Author Archives: joehillfamily

October 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

October 1, 2020

I guess I had a good idea that when I started writing this in April I’d still be doing so in October.  Of course, then I didn’t know what the future held.  Now I’m predicting that I’ll still be writing this come next April.  I plan to keep writing until we can safely go out to restaurants, ball games, church, family gatherings, and other social events.  Perhaps by April 2021 we will have been vaccinated.  Until then, things aren’t that much different today than they were on April 20 when I started this blog.  What an awful year!

Part of this was written from the Augusta Health parking lot.  I dropped Lynn off at AMC at 7:15 today for her colonoscopy.  I waited for her in the parking lot until that unpleasant ordeal was over.  She was a real trooper for this, obeying all of the instructions for the prep.  There are few things in life more unpleasant than that.

Unfortunately, she came back with bad news—she has to do the entire thing again tomorrow.  The physician found two polyps which he removed, but told her that because of “incomplete preparation” he wasn’t able to proceed.  So again today she had to drink that awful liquid, avoid any foods except liquids, and return on Friday for more of the same.

There was concern and good news both in this message.  The fact is, he didn’t find any tumors.  He found two polyps which will be sent off to see if they were cancerous or not.  Either way, he removed them.  I do admit I have my doubts about his statement that she had incomplete preparation because I know she did everything by the instructions she was given.  In fact, she did even more because she could have eaten breakfast yesterday but did not.

Fortunately, the AMC parking lot had decent WiFi so I was able to keep up with the morning’s news.  Here’s one story from ABC:

President Donald Trump will hold more large-scale campaign rallies in Wisconsin this weekend as coronavirus cases and hospitalization rage across the battleground state, making the clear decision to prioritize campaigning rather than worry about more people getting sick.

Wisconsin, which is a must-win state in the president’s path to victory, is in the midst of an alarming surge of coronavirus cases just a month before the election — an unprecedented political curveball that could alter Wisconsin voters’ opinions on who they trust to handle the pandemic, as more are personally impacted by the virus.

The surge also comes as 1.2 million Wisconsinites have already started the voting process by mail, momentum which Trump aims to capitalize on when he visits Saturday.

The president is scheduled to make his third visit to Wisconsin over the past couple months, this time in La Crosse and Green Bay — but his visit also comes at odds with the advice of his own White House Coronavirus Task Force, which has just classified the cities as “red zones” in a new report. The report urged for “the maximum degree possible” of social distancing in the state.

In the past week, the state has reported nearly 16,000 new cases, compared to just over 5,000 new cases reported in the last week of August. Last Saturday alone, the state reported close to 3,000 new cases.

Hospitalizations have also been on the rise, and the Wisconsin Health Department reported that 82% of hospital beds across the state are in capacity as of Tuesday. In Green Bay, where the president is headed, one health system reportedly said this week that its hospital there was at 94% capacity.

What selfishness…to put your own ego ahead of other peoples’ health.  Another article I read in The Atlantic noted that Trump’s rude behavior at the debate sends a subtle message to his followers:

In that sense, the interruptions worked as their own empty messages. Much of Trump’s speech doubles as promises made to the people inclined to admire him: You, too, could be rich, or pretend to be. You, too, can insult other people and dismiss their indignation as political correctness. You, too, can do what you want, when you want, because you have defined political freedom as social impunity. So Trump’s bulldozing and steamrolling had a certain inverse eloquence. The interruptions broke the rules of the debate, and delighted in the breaking. They gratified Trump’s delusions of dominance. They spoke to Americans who share Trump’s conviction that destruction is a means to power.

Indeed, his base thought his performance at the debate was great.  They saw this debate as like a Muhammed Ali fight, with the more frequent and harder the punches come the better.  I believe that his base didn’t want a debate, they wanted a brawl.  After all, those who don’t reason don’t discuss or debate, they fight.

Lynn has been in a funk lately since she feels incarcerated in our house.  Indeed, our many fall trips have been canceled including several to the Barter Theatre and the big one to South America.  As I’ve written before, not only has COVID-19 kept us at home but she feels obligated to be nearby her mother.  I’ve been looking for a one night get-away for us which would be something we could safely do.  I came up with a stay at the lodge in Hawks Next State Park in West Virginia.  I made a reservation for Wednesday, October 14, in a room with a canyon view of the New River Gorge.  Lynn was fine with this.  I’m thinking that the leaves should be very nice by then.  We might stop by the Greenbrier or Food and Friends on our way for lunch.  On Thursday morning there is a tram ride down into the gorge we may take before coming home in time for Freddie’s arrival.

Yesterday was Betsy’s 11th birthday but she had a full evening with dance so we had her over in the afternoon today to celebrate.  As has been my custom, I created a math treasure hunt for her which led her around our yard finding clues until she got to her present.  The whole family came over and we had a fine, though short, visit with them.  As always, I posted pictures on my website.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 1             Infected                   Died

World               34,440,228           1,023,430

US                       7,489,547              212,506

Virginia               148,721                  3,228

Augusta County          507                         7

I’m not sure what’s going on with Augusta County’s numbers.  The Virginia Department of Health dashboard showed the number of infections in Augusta County actually decreased by 5 from yesterday.  There must have been a data error yesterday.

My cousin Marjorie Martorella passed along a Facebook post that I liked.  Lynn reposted it.  Here’s its text: “The president has scheduled two rallies in Wisconsin this weekend.  Wisconsin had its highest number of coronavirus deaths yesterday.  Wisconsin has a legal mandate requiring masks and social distancing.  The president refuses to respect these state laws. Don’t tell me he is a law and order candidate. He is not.  Don’t tell me he believes in protecting human life. He does not.”

Trump believes that OTHERS should obey law and order, not him.  He showed this at the debate, completely ignoring the rules that his own party had agreed to.  He’s like the policemen I complained about in a post last month who drive well over the speed limit when they’re casually driving on the interstate without their flashing lights on.  The laws apply to everyone else.

There are issues that I thought would have been part of this election but have been pushed to the back burner.  For example, gun control is no longer discussed on the national forum.  I guess we have to wait until there’s another mass murder.  Ironically, today is the 3rd anniversary of the deadliest shooting ever, the Las Vegas mass murder.  It seems like ages ago that Lynn and I went to Washington to demonstrate in support of gun control measures as led by the kids from Florida.  If we had more gun control we wouldn’t have as many headline-making killings in the US.  Do I want the 2nd Amendment repealed?  No, but I do strongly believe there is no place for weapons which can shoot hundreds of bullets in a minute.  Let the hunters keep their 22’s and shotguns but take away every semi-automatic gun and its ammunition.

Fortunately, education has not been an issue thus far.  It is not a federal issue anyway; education is the duty of each state.  The federal government’s major involvement is with areas like Special Education.  Let’s keep it that way.  We don’t need the feds leading us down another No Child Left Behind debacle like George Bush did.  Trump couldn’t do it anyway because his education chief is Betsy DeVos who doesn’t have a clue about public schools.

Immigration has hardly been mentioned.  In 2016 Trump made such a big deal out of his push to build a wall along the entire Mexican border.  The wall has never been built, thank goodness.  However, he is still holding kids captured from those trying to illegally enter into the US and kept them in cases.

Oh well, we’ve had plenty of other issues to talk and write about….

October 2, 2020

I shouldn’t express surprise at this; we all knew it was coming.  Overnight it was announced that President Trump and his wife have both tested positive with COVID-19.  I don’t wish this on anyone but I can truly say he asked for it.  He very rarely wore masks and participated in many social events where attendees did not observe social distance.  Yes, he was tested daily, but tests don’t keep coronavirus away.  He is 74 years old and overweight—both not good.

Maybe he can take lots of hydroxychloroquine.  Or have himself injected with bleach or ultraviolet rays.  I know I shouldn’t joke about this but all of these are what he has suggested as treatments.  Some Facebook users said he should get the witch doctor or the pillow guy to heal him.

Time magazine said it well, “Nobody knows exactly what happens next. The President of the United States has contracted a disease that has killed more than 207,000 Americans and sickened some 7.3 million. It will undoubtedly add new chaos into an election season already in uncharted territory as a result of the global pandemic, the resulting economic downturn, a reckoning on racial justice and wildfires torching the American West.”  The magazine also noted that eight out of ten of the 207,000 American deaths have been to citizens over 65 years of age.

ABC news reported that “everything is on hold.”  The Wisconsin rallies I raised a fuss about yesterday are no longer.  Both are well at this time as reported by White House doctors.  There are so many people in his circle who may have contracted it, especially since none of them wear masks.  Trump even made fun of Joe Biden for wearing masks at the debate on Tuesday night.  Sounds like the joke is on him.

Just last night in a speech he said that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.”  What irony!  He has downplayed COVID-19 so much in his re-election campaign.  I guess he’ll change his tune now.

Unknown at this point are how far reaching this event will affect the news.  The stock market is supposed to take a definite hit from the news of his infection.  Will the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court be delayed?  Will the upcoming debates be canceled?

As I wrote yesterday, Lynn had her second colonoscopy this morning at Augusta Health.  She had no solid food for over two days.   Despite this, she remained in surprisingly good moods.  I would have been a monster to live with.

The news was good after Lynn’s second colonoscopy today.  There was only one small polyp found and it was removed.  She should be good to go now.  What an ordeal!  2020 has not been a good year for her:  no travel, broken foot, and two colonoscopies.

Today my brother Butch posted this on Facebook, “I’m a little saddened that so many people are happy about the Trumps’ positive COVID test; I hoped that people would be more empathetic. Don’t you have any feeling for the virus that has to exist in such hellish conditions?”  I commented “I actually hope he makes a full recovery just in time for a landslide Biden victory so he and his rich white supremacist cronies can see that Americans are tired of bullying, lies, incompetence, selfishness, and disdain for science and those of other nationalities or races.”

Biden and his wife Jill both tested negative today but they aren’t out of the woods yet since there is an incubation period after being exposed to coronavirus.  The same applies to Mike Pence.  I think many medical experts are saying Pence should be quarantined but he’s definitely not.  He’s back on the campaign trail.

Lynn and I celebrated getting her colonoscopies behind her this evening by grabbing hamburgers at the Schoolhouse Burgers food truck at Valley Pike.  They were delicious.  Then we went to Walmart for her to grab a couple of things followed by dessert at Smileys.  Earlier today I took her to Staunton to visit with her mother and to a couple of grocery stores there.  It felt good to be somewhat back in the swing of things.

This afternoon Trump was taken to Walter Reed Hospital “for precautionary reasons.”  I was a little surprised by this; perhaps he is having more than just the “mild symnptoms” that have been reported thus far.  Earlier on Friday, the White House revealed that President Trump was treated with a single 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s experimental antibody cocktail, called REGN-COV2.  Personally, I think this is strange.

Tonight, out of respect for the office, Joe Biden pulled all of his negative television ads.  I have to wonder if the shoe had been on the other foot if Trump would have done this.

Certainly this turn of events will make COVID-19 as the most important topic in what’s left of the Presidential campaign.  Speaking of COVID-19, here are today’s numbers:

October 2             Infected                   Died

World               34,813,661           1,032,607

US                     7,548,796*              213,497

Virginia           149,687**                  3,250

Augusta County          510                         7

*Including President Donald Trump

**Including Governor Ralph Northram

Lynn and I watched the end of the second season of Virgin River last night on Netflix.  It ended with many unresolved issues up in the air.  Of course, that just makes us want to see its third season when it resumes sometime later this year or next.  The events of today likewise ended up being a cliffhanger.  Will Trump get worse?  Go on a ventilator?  Die from COVID-19?  Will the Supreme Court nomination be delayed?  Who else will now test positive?  Will the 25th Amendment play out?

Keep coming back and we’ll all find out!

October 3, 2020

One month from today and we’ll have all of this election behind us.  My e-mail and texts will drop markedly.  Yes, I get texts every day from Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, et. al.  Facebook will have to come up with new insults to post.

While Lynn had her colonoscopy yesterday I walked at Augusta Health.  First I walked the loop around the hospital then walked on the trail that has been constructed along Lifecore Drive. I walked out to US 250 then back to Tinkling Springs Road, then returned to the hospital just in time to pick her up.  It ended up being around a 4.8 mile walk, just over 10,000 steps for me, I was happy to get this in but I paid the price last night with leg cramps keeping me from sleeping.  Getting old is no fun!

The news this morning still leaves a lot up in the air.  After he was given the experimental cocktail, the President was given remdesivir which indicates to me that he wasn’t doing so well.  The news said that he wasn’t receiving any supplemental oxygen. 

Joe Biden is back on the campaign trail.  When I was a high school tennis coach, it was not uncommon to watch a match in which my player’s opponent seemed to twist an ankle or have some other injury.  Many times the opponent would limp on and immediately receive sympathetic encouragement from his fans.  Oftentimes my player’s reaction was to take it easy on the opponent but occasionally this came back to bite him as the opponent, spurred on by his new encouragement, would stage a comeback.  I used to coach my players that if an opponent is hurt, the best place for him is on the sidelines being treated, and the best thing my player could do for him is to get him there quickly by beating him, not letting up.  I’d say the same for Biden; he should not let up.  He should forge on.

I learned this morning that Senators are not allowed to vote virtually.  Two Republican Senators who attended the reception for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett last week have come down with coronavirus and a third Senator also has tested positive.   There may be more.  If this trend continues, then it is possible that the Republicans won’t have enough votes to get her confirmed.  I’m not hoping for more infections, just pointing out that super spreader events like that reception in which no one wore masks or stayed socially distant may come back to bite the Republicans.  Lindsay Graham says they are still full steam ahead with the nomination.

One really funny Facebook post today said that “With the possibility that he may have to take over Trump’s activities this weekend, White House aides are frantically teaching Mike Pence how to play golf.”  Another one showed a picture of Barack Obama with the caption, “I’m just waiting to see how it’s my fault.” 

Today’s news has a lot about all of the contract tracing going on around Donald Trump.  He has been in so many social gatherings, with so many people, few of whom wore masks or respected social distancing.  This must be a nightmare of a project. 

Lynn wanted to get some mums which were on sale this morning at Overlook Produce so we got there just as they opened.  She bought seven so she can give one to her friends, sisters, and aunt, Jo Lee Hanger, who is now living at The Legacy where her Mom is. 

There was a news conference scheduled for 11:00 this morning in which the physicians at Walter Reed were supposed to give the public an update on the President’s condition.  The conference was delayed over and over, leading to suspicion as to what the physicians were being told to say.  Prior to this, I watched CNN news which predicted that we would not be told the full truth.  Noting that the President has developed several symptoms, whereas most people who contact the disease do not develop symptoms until a few days after initially contracting coronavirus, they wondered when he actually did catch the virus and thus became contagious. 

A team of ten physicians did give the update around 11:40. They said that Trump was doing very well.  All of his bodily functions were normal and he was not put on oxygen.  They said he will be given daily remdesivir dosages.  He was fever-free for the past 24 hours and in good spirits, they reported.  They noted that day 7-10 is critical for all coronavirus patients so we’ll keep in tune.  They would not indicate when he had his last negative test result.  They were evasive when asked if he had ever been on oxygen and about results of tests on his lungs.  All of this makes us more skeptical.  The intent was clearly to tell America that he is OK.

My interest in the news was sidelined for four hours this afternoon as WVU played Baylor in football in Morgantown.  In front of empty stands, the Mountaineers pulled out a 27-21 victory in overtime.  It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done!  Facebook had a link so our fans could cue up Country Roads after the game.

Lynn and I managed to walk a mile today.  Her foot isn’t 100% yet but it is getting better.  It was nice to walk with her again.

I probably spend too much time reading comments on Facebook.  There are so many people who are questioning Trump’s COVID-19 infection.  Some say he lies so much he is lying now.  Some say it is a stunt since he is so far behind in the polls.  I think he actually is infected.  But even among those who, like me, do believe he’s got the virus, there are many who write comments like they wish the 203,000 dead Americans could have had the health care he is experiencing now, especially since he only paid $750 in federal taxes for all this. 

Here are today’s statistics:

October 3             Infected                   Died

World               35,119,579           1,037,465

US                       7,600,137              214,269

Virginia               150,803                  3,270

Augusta County          518                         7

The spike in US infections came from those who attended the White House lawn party about Amy Coney Barrett 🙂

October 4, 2020

There remains some controversy about Trump’s health status.  As I said yesterday, the team of doctors at Walter Reed made it sound like he was ready to get back on the golf course.  Meanwhile, his own chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said he had concerning vitals including shortness of breath and was given oxygen at the White House.  The administration lacks the ability to be honest with the American people.

I like the Facebook post that simply says “Pray for Donald Trump, Vote for Joe Biden.”

The doctors today said that Trump is improving, with stable vital signs and no fever.  They said he had been given dexamethasone due to lower oxygen levels.  They indicated he may be released tomorrow.  The doctors on CNN were very skeptical of what we were told at today’s press conference, saying we weren’t being told everything.  They say he is getting good care but we, the public, are not getting good information.  They suspect Trump has told them not to divulge things.  They pointed out, for example, that he is getting a five day dose of remdesivir which has to be issued in a hospital.  So how could he be released tomorrow?

Central UMC had in-person services today for the first time since the pandemic began.  Actually it was the first time we had a service in the sanctuary since the boiler died that day and it wasn’t fixed until shortly after the pandemic hit.  Lynn and I didn’t attend and likely won’t attend until we’re vaccinated. 

Lynn did go in to help her mother with lunch, came back and baked bread, and has done other chores including washing the sheets and towels today.  She’s been much more industrious than I have been. 

Another bizarre day for Donald Trump.  He took an experimental drug cocktail that wasn’t even on the FDA approved list when he was initially diagnosed.  He has had two doses of remdesivir which is for people who are at advanced states of coronavirus then took dexamethasone because he had breathing issues.  His doctors pretended he was doing OK but left many in serious doubt that we were being told the full truth.  Then, to top it all, he hopped into a car and took a short trip around his supporters outside Walter Reed just so he could have a photo op waving to them.  In doing so, he contaminated secret service people who accompanied him.  CNN News went ballistic over this, saying they couldn’t believe his callousness.  One doctor they interviewed afterward called him “amazingly irresponsible.”  Another said that if he really believes that “blue lives matter” then why did he put the secret service people at risk? 

Trump is trying to put out the image that he is strong, well, and defeating COVID-19.  He has at least twelve doctors at Walter Reed taking care of him.   One of the CNN doctors said that, given the trifecta of medicines Trump is taking, he must be in grave danger.  This is the opposite of the image Trump and his doctors are trying to convey.  Who knows?  We’re kept in the dark by this administration.

Lynn’s sisters found some old newspaper clippings of her dad’s sports and military achievements.  He was quite a basketball and baseball player!  I’m going to scan some of these documents.

With all the news about Donald Trump, the coronavirus spread has taken the back burner on the news except for the spread that was caused by Trump during the past week including the Amy Coney Barrett party.  Here are today’s statistics:

October 4             Infected                   Died

World               35,387,524           1,041,538

US                       7,635,556              214,610

Virginia               151,870                  3,273

Augusta County          525                         7

This is a mixed bag.  Virginia had over 1,000 new cases in the past 24 hours but only three more deaths. 

October 5, 2020

The news media today is still having a field day with Trump’s careless stunt yesterday of making a photo op out of his Walter Reed stay.  Many other doctors have come out highly critical of this.

I spent the first half of the day today at Central UMC.  This was our bookkeeper’s last day and I wanted her to show me how to do some things on QuickBooks since I will be doing this until we get someone hired.  It did not work out that way.  We began by starting to do a reconciliation of the bank statement for September.  She had told me that she had been doing reconciliations every month.  But when we started the process, I quickly discovered that she had not checked off most items that had cleared the bank for the last four months.  We spent the entire morning trying to clean that up.  There were many other issues, and not all of them her fault.  For example, we now have online banking where many of us make our monthly donations to the church through an online service called VANCO.  VANCO sends e-mails to her and to me every time a donation is made.  So, for example, if I made a $100 donation she would get an e-mail confirming this so she would make a $100 deposit to our checking account.  It turns out that VANCO charges for its services and withdraws its fees before it deposits to the bank.  So the bank deposit might show a deposit of $96.80.  This makes reconciling a mess because her entry into the books was for $100, not $96.80.  There have been lots of these type deposits in the last four months; I think I’ll have to clean up all of them, one at a time. 

I left after about four hours of working on this with the reality that I’ll be spending lots and lots of time at Central over the next month trying to get the books back in better shape.  She had made lots of errors and mis-filings.  I’m hoping to get the previous bookkeeper, Sarah, to come back for a few hours to help me but she has a new baby and another small child so I’m not sure she’ll come.  I tried calling her today but she has not returned my call yet.

I’m really worried about this task, partially because I know the books are so messed up and partially because I have never done this kind of bookkeeping before. 

Our Biden sign was stolen from our front yard last night.  I guess we should have been surprised it lasted as long as it did.  Strangely, the other Biden signs on our road were untouched.  Lynn called the local Democratic headquarters and they brought us a couple of replacement signs this afternoon.  Taking our sign was such low class behavior.  We’ll see how long the new one lasts.  Only 29 days until the signs won’t mean anything.

Lynn and I got in a short walk again today.  Her foot is still not back to normal so we’ve limited our walks to just up to Mount Pisgah UMC and back, about a mile in all.  She doesn’t hurt when she walks but sometimes does afterwards.

The news this evening was another Trump surprise.  He was released from Walter Reed Hospital at 6:30. This just happens to coincide with the nightly news time, no surprise.  He wants to be the feature story and he wanted to show how tough he is and how minor COVID-19 is.  He even tweeted “Don’t be afraid of COVID.  Don’t let it dominate your life…”   At least he wore a mask as he was transported from the hospital to the helicopter to take him back to the White House.

Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, told reporters on Monday that it’s been more than 72 hours since Trump had a fever, his oxygen levels and breathing are all normal.  Conley noted that Trump “may not entirely be out of the woods yet” but the medical team agrees that their evaluations and Trump’s clinical status support his return home where “he’ll be surrounded by world class medical care 24/7.”   He will be closely monitored through next weekend given the typical length of mild COVID-19 infections.  ABC News suggested that it was Trump’s idea, not the doctors’, to return to the White House.

It’s just that kind of care that has earned him a barrage of negative comments on social media.  People complain that he got all of this first-class care after paying only $750 for it.  Many people are saying it was all a hoax.  Some doctors still say the medicines he got are those given to people who are struggling with recovery from COVID-19, not to those who are in the initial stages of a mild reaction to it.  Social media posts note that there are families of 210,000 dead Americans who wish their loved ones had the kind of care he got.  The ABC News medical expert, Dr. Ashish Jha, noted that Trump’s comment about not being afraid of COVID-19 is very misleading to the public.  He said he had hoped this would cause Trump to take a more serious attitude toward the disease but it appears to have had the opposite effect.  Rachel Maddow wrote that his tweets were the most dangerous thing he has ever tweeted.  “Even after his own hospitalization, he appears to have learned nothing.”

His own press secretary announced today that she had tested positive—just another of the many who picked it up due to the careless attitude the White House has had about the CDC’s recommendations for masks and social distancing.  At least eighteen people who have been at the recent White House events have come down with the virus. Multiple White House sources told ABC News there is “a full-blown freak-out” in the administration waiting to see who will be next to test positive — with aides not trusting each other and some trying to find ways to avoid coming into work at all.

Here’s the killer—the news reported that when he entered the White House from his helicopter ride, he took his mask off!  He then came back out, maskless, to make sure the photographers got photos of him near the flag.  I watched CNN news afterwards and they had a fit over this.  “This is just another reminder that we elected a reality TV star,” said one of them.  “He demonstrated that he doesn’t take seriously the health of the people at the White House.”  Supposedly he told his staff to not tell anyone about when he got his positive test. 

CNN also hit hard on Trump’s doctors for their non-answers to reporters’ questions today about his last negative test, his lung CT scans, his blood thinners, and what other medicines he may/may not be on.  His doctors wouldn’t answer any questions about those things. 

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN said Trump should be in isolation, not walking around with his mask off.  He is still contagious and putting others at risk.  Dr. Gupta said, “Everywhere he goes will have to be decontaminated.” 

The forecast for the next several days is for beautiful weather and warmer temperatures.  I can’t wait!

In addition to all of the hoopla over Trump, ABC also reported that the number of infections are rising again in 33 states.  Here are today’s numbers:

October 5             Infected                   Died

World               35,660,945           1,045,227

US                       7,674,395              214,959

Virginia               152,557                  3,276

Augusta County          534                         7

I am fully in favor of universal healthcare for Americans.  Republicans yell that they don’t want socialized medicine.  Yet Donald Trump’s care at Walter Reed was at a hospital where 100% of the doctors are government employees and 100% of the employees there are government employees.  It is a government-run, completely socialized form of medical care.  If it is good enough for Trump, why is it not good enough for me and you?

October 6, 2020

Today was the worst day I have had in months.  I was at Central UMC morning, afternoon, and night working on QuickBooks.  The more I worked the more problems I found.  In the morning I talked with Jeff DeLong who now lives in Martinsburg, WV and was a long-time treasurer at Central.  He gave me some ideas to work on which took a long time.  Basically, he told me to undo the reconciliations that had been done for August, July, June, and May then redo them,  Easier said than done.  I spent hours and hours on this today and finally came home near 10:00 pm having only completed May’s reconciliation.  Even it wasn’t exactly right but it was close.  I spent about two hours on June, never completed it, and it is far from correct.  I’ll dig back into it tomorrow at some point.

The previous bookkeeper just seems to have done so many things wrong—not entered check numbers on checks, omitted some deposits that the bank got, wrote some checks twice, did not pay a recurring bill in July though it was paid in June and August, and on and on.  I am so tired and frustrated. 

Here are today’s statistics.  My apologies for not writing more but I’m just too tired.

October 6             Infected                   Died

World               36,037,992           1,054,514

US                       7,722,746              215,822

Virginia               153,182                  3,291

Augusta County          535                         7

October 7, 2020

Today is my sister Mary K’s 75th birthday.  Wow, ¾ of a century!  I called her this evening and had a nice conversation.  It turns out that Butch and Wiley were visiting with her for a few days.  We discussed Thanksgiving briefly.  Butch is trying to reserve a banquet room at the Ohio University Inn for all in our family who want to come.  I think we can go and still maintain safe distance so I’m looking forward to it.  We haven’t been to Ohio for Thanksgiving for many, many years.

I spent all day again today at Central learning more about QuickBooks.  I’ve been learning a lot by seeing how Sarah, our bookkeeper until May 1, did things.  As I ‘ve mentioned, she’s going to come to CUMC on Monday and help me first-hand.  She was a very good bookkeeper, unlike the one who was just fired from that position.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep well last night because I was so worked up over reconciling Central’s QuickBooks with the bank statements.  Today I looked at how Sarah did this in February and decided to put this on the back burner for a while.  In the meantime, I discovered that the bookkeeper who took her place did all of the deposits wrong.  So I’ve got four months of deposits to fix.  There weren’t any funds lost, just not placed in the proper subaccounts they were supposed to be in.  I spent a lot of time today seeing how Sarah did this.

Tonight we had our weekly Zoom meeting for those who were available.  Jim and boys plus Kay and kids were on.  It was so good to see them.  Faron and Coen were wound up and Thomas and Georgia entertained us with silly songs.  Fun!

Tonight was also the Vice Presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence.  We were both tired but still tried our best to stay up for the fireworks!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 7             Infected                   Died

World               36,376,224           1,059,914

US                       7,773,134              216,705

Virginia               153,691                  3,303

Augusta County          540                         7

The President is making it sound like coronavirus is a snap.  Sure, he had the best care a person can get.  I don’t think the one million dead in the world would agree with him.

October 8, 2020

This was another day with lots of QuickBooks work so I don’t have time to write much.  I am feeling better about QuickBooks, though.  I’m a long way from being competent but I do feel more confident that I can do the jobs the way Sarah did them.  So far I think I can do checks and deposits OK.  I need lots more time with credit cards and payroll.  I spent most of the day today reviewing how Sarah had done deposits and discovered that our previous bookkeeper did not follow her examples.  So, much of today was spent correcting the last four months deposits.

The checks written were OK, as far as I can tell.  The reconciliations were clearly not and that’s what had me so upset a few days ago.  I’ve decided to postpone fooling with the reconciliations until I have a better handle on all of the normal duties the treasurer has in paying bills, writing checks, and making deposits.  Then I’ll learn about the other tasks.

As I’m learning to copy what Sarah did, I’m also trying to understand exactly why.  I know how to create General Journal entries the way she did but I’m not 100% sure as to why they are necessary for some accounts but not for others.  QuickBooks takes care of most of the tasks but not all and that’s where the Journal Entries come in.

I’ve got quite a list of questions for her when she comes on Monday afternoon.  I’m hoping she can come back the following week because I know I’ll have a ton of questions then.

Lynn and I haven’t been together as much since I’ve been working at the church so much and she’s got her own set of jobs including several mini-jobs with both Rockingham and Albemarle Counties.  Today, for example, she went to Linville Edom Elementary School to help a teacher there and tomorrow she has a day with lots of online training for Albemarle County.  We did enjoy dinner together then a trip to Smiley’s for dessert.

President Trump seems to have magically been cured of COVID-19 in just four days.  It makes you really wonder if he ever tested positive.  I know I shouldn’t be so negative but he has lied so much about so many things.  He pulled out of the next debate because it was scheduled to be virtual.  But who can blame Biden for not wanting to be in the same room as someone who supposedly has COVID-19 and, thus, would be contagious.

Here are today’s statistics:

October 8             Infected                   Died

World               36,738,690           1,066,412

US                       7,833,763              217,738

Virginia               155,535                  3,328

Augusta County          550                         7

The VDH site says there were almost 700 cases that were reported on October 8 which should have been included on October 7.  The numbers still show no sign of dropping off.  There were over 60,000 cases and 1,000 deaths in the US in the past 24 hours. 

October 9, 2020

Another day of full time work at CUMC.  I’m getting the hang of lots of it, though.  Today it took me a long time but I figured out how to keep accurate records of our church’s investments.  There are three endowment funds, two with Schwab and one with First Bank.  This morning none of the June – September records of these investments were accurate.  When I left at 3:30 this afternoon all were accurate to the penny.  This process is rather involved but not only did I make it work for the last four months but I set up a spreadsheet which will make subsequent calculations very easy. 

Central has three checking accounts.  One is the Memorial Fund where people donate money in memory of someone who has passed on. Another is called the Samaritan Fund which is used to help people, usually not members of Central, who have some kind of financial need.  This fund is pretty much self-sufficient; various members contribute to it throughout the year.  The third is the major account, the general fund.  It is divided into two parts, one general and the other with several designated funds such as Food Pantry, Kitchen Fund, etc.  Thus each of these subaccounts has its own balance but all are still part of the overarching General Fund.  It is a little tricky to move money around in these accounts.  The more I’ve worked with this over the past week the more I’ve come to wonder why we have three checking accounts.  No checks are ever written from the Memorial or Samaritan Funds.  So why couldn’t they just be subsets of the General Fund like the Food Pantry and Kitchen Fund are?  I’ll be asking some of the old-timers if they know why the accounts were set up this way.  It would simplify bookkeeping if I didn’t have to reconcile three different accounts.

I hustled home and made a trash run, picking up the Gutshall’s trash as usual.  I had to hurry because Jim was on his way here and I wanted to get back before he came.  I made it in time.  He has told us he wanted to come and mow our grass using the new zero-turn lawnmower.  Sure enough, in less than an hour he had it mowed and trimmed.  What a nice son!

He, Lynn, and I ate dinner consisting of hamburgers and French fries Lynn picked up from the Schoolhouse Food Truck.  They were delicious.  We had a good time chatting afterwards, mostly about Donald Trump’s ineptness.

By working so hard during the day I’ve missed lots of the news that I formerly watched throughout the day.  I did learn that Trump has refused to do the next debate because its organizers had decided to do it all virtually.  He wouldn’t like the fact that the person running the debate could silence him with the mute command—something I wish was available at the last debate when he wouldn’t shut up.  He said was completely healed from COVID-19 so there was no reason to not have the debate live.  Would anyone in his right mind want to be in the same room as a person who had just been infected for a little over a week?  How does he know he’s not contagious?  Maybe because he never had it in the first place?  Biden was willing to do the debate virtually. 

Here are today’s numbers:

October 9             Infected                   Died

World               37,091,382           1,072,141

US                       7,893,374              218,637

Virginia               156,649                  3,344

Augusta County          555                         7

Over 1,000 cases in Virginia and 900 deaths in the US in just 24 hours.  But sure, we should have more big political rallies and in-person meetings with people like Donald Trump.  What an idiot!

 

October 10, 2020

Today’s weather wasn’t nearly as good as the last several days.  It rained a little on and off all day—not a washout but just a drizzle several times.  I had gotten used to seeing the sun.  Not today!

This morning I went to Central and continued to learn more about QuickBooks.  I setup to print the checks for all the outstanding bills.  I’ll get Sarah to double check my setup before printing these on Monday.  I’m starting to get the hang of check writing and deposits.  I looked briefly at credit card management—I believe Central has three credit cards—but I need to jump into this next week.  Then all I’ll need help with is Payroll.

I have a huge list of questions for Sarah.  Some have to do with why she did some transactions the way she did them; others are simply how do I do such and such? 

Central was having a BBQ fundraiser today so I picked up two quarts for us plus three for Ann and family.  We’re going to have it tomorrow.  Tonight we finished up some leftovers for dinner.

This afternoon Lynn’s cousin Steve and his wife Becky came over.  They are from St. Paul, Minnesota and visiting Hanger relatives in the area.  We see them every couple of years.  Interestingly, Becky’s parents live in upstate New York so they can’t drive to see them because New York forces all incoming drivers from high COVID-19 infectious states to quarantine for 14 days.  You can’t even drive through New York if you want to go to New England.  And, they usually drive through Canada but Canada won’t allow US drivers in, either.  What a situation!  And you know who we have to thank for all this.  Are we great in America or what?  We sat in the pergola and, fortunately, it only sprinkled a very little bit.  We had a nice visit with them.

This evening we went to a few Dollar General stores as Lynn needed to buy some cleaning supplies and she had a $5 off coupon.  We went to several different ones because she was looking for some specific items which we never did find.  We had nothing else to do so our entertainment for this evening visiting Dollar Generals in the area.  Now is that some kind of fun?

While Trump says he is anxious to get back to his crowded rallies, the medical staff of the White House has been strangely tight-lipped about when he has been tested in the past ten days and when his last negative test was.  They’re definitely covering something up.  Trump spoke to hundreds of his faithful on the White House lawn today—maskless.

In the meantime, COVID-19 still rages at places in the US.  New single-day records were set yesterday in six states and worldwide.  Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and West Virginia all set records on Friday.  The number of new infections in the world increased by 350,766 on Friday, surpassing by 12,000 a record set earlier in the week.  The new cases included more than 109,000 in Europe alone, according to NBC news.  Coronavirus cases have nearly doubled over a two week period in New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Vermont. 

Here are the statistics:

October 10           Infected                   Died

World               37,448,734           1,077,190

US                       7,943,598              219,254

Virginia               157,905                  3,354

Augusta County          561                         7

Another 1,300 new cases in Virginia.  Another thousand deaths in the US.  When will it get better?  There’s no recent news about vaccines. 

I did have one significant accomplishment today–I completed my 20,000th consecutive Whirly Word puzzle! I’ve been playing this for over three and a half years daily. As I’ve described before, you are presented with six letters and must come up with all the words that can be made with those six letters. Actually, you only have to come up with about 90% of them in order to progress to the next game. If you can’t, you have to restart at game 0. I always find enough words to progress to the next game but still consider it bad if I can’t find ALL of them, even though sometimes there are 35 different words to be found. I’d say that I find 100% of the words in about 90% of the games I play but always enough to progress to the next game.

October 11, 2020

Today was another day with rainy weather.  It is supposed to dry up by lunchtime tomorrow and stay dry for a few days including our two upcoming days on Wednesday and Thursday at Hawks Nest State Park in Ansted, WV.  We spent some time today making plans for this short, one night, trip.  We found what seems to be a neat restaurant, Secret Sandwich Society, in nearby Fayetteville where we’ll likely eat dinner.  They have outdoor seating.

I had Sunday School this morning then I actually went to Central but not until the 11:00 in-person service was over.  Lynn went to visit her mother so I tagged along to Staunton where she dropped me for an hour or so while she visited.  I’m going to wait until I’m vaccinated until I attend the in-person services.

Lynn and I also made a quick trip to Costco today to get a few items we needed.  It was more crowded today than the last time we went.

I’ll be so glad when the election is over.  I get way too many texts and e-mails now.  Virginia supposedly isn’t a hotly contested state and is expected to vote Democratic.  Thus we don’t see as many tv ads as those in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida see.  Thank goodness!!

ABC reported tonight that Trump claims he has tested negative, though his doctors haven’t corroborated that claim, and is completely free of the virus now and is immune.  He’s hitting the campaign trail in Florida tomorrow.  I wouldn’t want to be there!  He claimed again that the virus would “disappear.”  The majority of Americans don’t believe him. 

ABC said there are more than 50,000 new cases for the past four days in the US.  The site I use, worldometers.info, didn’t quite have that many.  Here their statistics for today:

October 11           Infected                   Died

World               37,727,685           1,081,108

US                       7,988,458              219,684

Virginia               158,716                  3,358

Augusta County          569                         7

One of the drugs Trump took was Regeneron’s cocktail.  Its maker warned today that there are only enough doses to treat 50,000 patients now.  That will hardly help.  If I do come down with a bad case of it I would want the same drugs he took.  Fat chance that would happen…

October 12, 2020

I’ve said many times that for the past eight months I’ve felt like COVID-19 was pursuing Lynn and me, getting closer all the time.  Well, today it got the closest yet.  The day was going along well; I worked at Central all morning with plans to meet up with Sarah Russell who would help me with the bookkeeping duties in the afternoon.  She texted me around noon that she would be there at 12:30.  Great, I thought.

Then the phone rang.  It was Jim and he brought bad news.  He had been notified that a person with whom he had been in relatively close contact with last week has come down with coronavirus symptoms.  This was the shop teacher who helped him diagnose what was wrong with his pickup truck, the spark plugs.  Jim had been in close enough contact with him that he now has to quarantine for fourteen days.

Jim had visited with Lynn and me last Friday, as I wrote then.  He got here at 4:30, immediately hopped on the mower and mowed our lawn.  As he was finishing up Lynn went to get our sandwiches so as soon as Jim finished we sat down on the back porch and ate our sandwiches, then he left.  He did not come into the house nor get within six feet of either of us, though we did not wear masks since we were outside.  This visit happened after the time he had been with his friend whom he now thinks has COVID-19. 

I quickly got on the CDC website to see what the protocol was for Lynn and me.  It turns out that we are not required to quarantine.  If either of us develops symptoms or if Jim develops them then we are to quarantine.  Jim told us today he was fine, with no fever nor other symptoms.  The CDC says we can continue with our normal schedule as long as none of the three of us show symptoms.  I still called Sarah and postponed our meeting until Saturday.

I also notified the custodian and others at Central who popped in the office.  We kept our distance.   Our pastor, Won, is off on Mondays.  I e-mailed him all this and asked him if I should stay away tomorrow.  He said that he would stay home himself especially since I told him we were planning to be gone Wednesday and Thursday to West Virginia.  At Central I wear a mask any time someone else is in the office.

Tonight we both feel fine though, of course, we are concerned, especially for Jim and his family.  I know we’ll be in contact with him daily for a while.

Meanwhile, our President thinks he is well enough to be mixing in huge crowds.  This seems so unfair and stupid.

Here are today’s numbers:

October 12           Infected                   Died

World               38,035,349           1,085,317

US                       8,037,789              220,011

Virginia               159,570                  3,361

Augusta County          574                         7

I sure hope that last number in the chart stays that way…

October 13, 2020

We had good news from Jim today—the friend of his who was showing COVID symptoms has been tested and the results came back negative.  So now he’s out of quarantine and Lynn and I no longer need to be as worried.  Thank the Lord!

Today was another working day for me at Central.  I’m starting to feel comfortable with QuickBooks now.  I wrote another check, made another deposit, and spent most of the morning learning all about credit card purchases.  Then, in the afternoon, I decided to un-reconcile the May 31 reconciliation, the first one done by our former bookkeeper.  Once I did, it didn’t take me long to fix a few minor errors than have it reconciled with every penny accounted for.  Whew!  I then reconstructed the two monthly reports that are done every month, the Statement of Financial Position and the Statement of Activities.  Both came out well.  I had time to do the same for the June 30 bank statement.  When I get back to the office on Friday I plan to do the same for the July 31, August 31, and September 30 bank statements.  This will bring our major bank account, the general account, back to 100% compliance between the bank and QuickBooks. 

You’d think I’d be done but actually I then have to do the same for three more bank accounts:  the Money Market Account, Samaritan Fund, and Memorial Funds.  Fortunately, these three usually have one or two transactions per month so it won’t take me long to get them in shape, I hope.  Maybe by early next week I’ll all of the cleanup work behind me.

I have run into several transactions that I need to talk with our Pastor about and I need to learn more about two more QuickBooks and church accounting topics:  Payroll and Pastor’s Reimbursement Account.

Lynn didn’t have quite as busy a day but she still had a morning walk with her friend Ginny Bauman, lunch with her mother, and an afternoon IEP meeting that she interpreted for. 

I had a fun time this afternoon doing something I hadn’t done in ages—math problems.  Henry is taking the PSAT tomorrow and had a practice test he was working on.  He asked me to help him with a few problems.  So I picked him up on my way home from Central and we came to our house and worked on the problems.  We also had Freddie for a little over an hour.  He played well outside by himself. 

Tomorrow Lynn and I are going to Hawks Nest State Park for two days.  We’ve decided to leave early in the morning because we’re going to do something very unusual on our way—stop at ten Dollar General Stores.  All ten are on or near our three hour drive to Hawks Nest; we’ve got the route all mapped out.  This isn’t the first time we’ve done this kind of crazy trip.  Lynn loves shopping trips like this where she looks for bargains.  She’s looking for some Christmas signs now.  She found one sign in a local DG store and her friend Cheryl found a couple on a trip to North Carolina she took last week.  Heaven knows how many will be in the back of my car when we come back on Thursday!  Lynn will have fun shopping and I’ll have fun making her happy.  I’ll likely stay in the car and play Whirly Word.

I watched a show on CNN tonight with Anderson Cooper who interviewed Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York.  Cuomo has a theory about the upcoming election that is scary.  He says Trump knows he won’t win the election so his strategy now is to get Amy Coney Barrett approved in a hurry so that after he loses the election he can claim voter fraud.  Bill Barr will lead the effort to take this case to the Supreme Court, now packed with Trump appointees, who will rule that the election was fraudulent and the Presidency belongs to Trump.  That plot makes me sick.  Cuomo did add that his personal belief is that even if the scenario above starts to play out, the Supreme Court will have enough morality to rule against Trump.

The news on COVID-19 isn’t any better.  One of the vaccine companies, Johnson and Johnson, has now had to suspend its Phase 3 tests because one of the people testing this vaccine developed some kind of bad reaction to it.  Plus, a company working on antibody treatment had the same issue. 

ABC reported that Europe is undergoing a COVID crisis.  The World Health Organization said more than 2.2 million new cases of COVID-19 and 39,000 deaths from the disease have been reported across the globe in the past week, the highest number of reported cases so far in a single week since the start of the pandemic.  According to the WHO’s weekly epidemiological update published Monday, Europe registered the highest weekly incidence of COVID-19 cases of any region since the start of the pandemic, with almost 700,000 new infections reported. The region’s weekly incidence in cases and deaths increased by 34% and 16% respectively in comparison to the previous week. The United Kingdom, France, Russia and Spain account for over half of all new cases reported in the region.

Here are the numbers:

October 13           Infected                   Died

World               38,347,599           1,090,179

US                       8,089,724              220,827

Virginia               160,805                  3,372

Augusta County          576                         8

My wish from last night’s blog has already not come true.  Virginia had over 1,200 new cases in the past 24 hours and 11 more deaths including on in Augusta County.

We learned today that my favorite high school principal under whom I taught has died.  Charles Huffman hired me to teach at Fort Defiance in 1983, two years after we moved to Virginia.  I taught there until 1989.  Charlie treated me, Lynn, and our children wonderfully.  He stayed out of my classroom yet got me everything I asked for.  He hired Lynn in 1988 and she taught at Fort Defiance for twenty years, long after he had retired.  He was principal when all three of our children were at FDHS and was fair with all of them.  In February, before coronavirus hit, Lynn and I bumped into him and his family at a local restaurant where we were having breakfast.  His health was failing then; he was already blind.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity that morning to tell him he was my favorite principal.  I will miss him.

October 14, 2020

Today was certainly a change of pace for Lynn and me.  We were packed and on our way to West Virginia before 7:30 in the morning.  However, we managed to turn a 3 hour drive into nearly a six hour drive.  That’s because, as I wrote yesterday, we stopped at ten (yes, TEN!) Dollar General Stores.  We stopped in Greenville, Lexington, Clifton Forge, and Covington in Virginia and Caldwell, Lewisburg, Rupert, Rainelle, Lookout, and Ansted in West Virginia.  Lynn was only mildly successful in finding the bargains she was looking for.  I’ll bet she didn’t spend a total of $50 combined.

At most of the stores, the employees and customers both had on masks.  There were exceptions to this at some of the West Virginia stores, though. She didn’t stay long inside those.

The drive was very pretty with the fall foliage.  We avoided I-81 in Virginia by staying on US 11 nearly the entire way.  Then we got on I-64 which was a very pretty drive.  We ate lunch (yogurt) in the parking lot of the Rainelle Dollar General.  We got to Hawks Nest Lodge around 2:00.

We had reserved a Canyon View suite.  It turned out to be in the bottom floor of the building.  And our view consisted of construction workers just outside our window doing remodeling.  Worst, we had virtually no WiFi.  So we went back to the desk and got moved to a main floor room without the canyon view.  This saved us nearly $20.  And, we had a great WiFi connection.  Tonight I uploaded the 108 pictures I took today in about two minutes.  At home it would have taken me hours.

With our room finally the way we wanted it, we headed out to hike and take photos.  We were a little disappointed with the foliage.  On the way here we saw some trees that were bright yellow and red, but the views from the overlook weren’t so impressive.  Nonetheless, I got some nice pictures.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day.

This was the first we’d really walked much since Lynn broke her foot.  We did OK but quickly learned that we are now not in the shape we were prior to her accident.

We went to the two main overlooks at Hawks Nest then headed south about 15 miles to the New River Gorge Park.  We’d been there before, but still took lots of pictures as we walked to its overlook.  Then we drove a windy road to the bottom of the gorge where we could look up and see the bridge.  We’d seen it from this vantage point once before—when we rode a whitewater raft a few years ago.  It was another pretty drive.

We got to the other side of the bridge in Fayetteville, WV, around 4:30.  It was just in time to place our order at a restaurant we had found on the web, the Secret Sandwich Society.  The restaurant has an unusual name and a very eclectic menu.  We ended up splitting two items on the menu, pimento cheese fries and a chicken and waffle sandwich.  We enjoyed both dishes a lot.  And we had room for ice cream which we found just a five minute walk away in downtown Fayetteville at a ice cream shop named The Stache. 

I took 108 pictures and, as I mentioned above, got them uploaded to my Flickr site when we returned to the lodge shortly before dark.  They are good quality pics.

I was tired when we got back to the hotel room.   We watched some tv then called it a night.  It sure was nice to get away for a day.  This time last year we were heading to Italy.  Hawks Nest is a weak substitute but at least it got us out of our routine for a short while.  And I do believe we have been safe.  We’ve worn out masks inside and out today.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 14           Infected                   Died

World               38,724,026           1,096,199

US                       8,147,934              221,818

Virginia               161,610                  3,381

Augusta County          585                         8

October 15, 2020

We didn’t stay long at Hawks Nest this morning.  We did eat breakfast, which was included with the room, in their dining room.  Shortly afterward we headed back but on a slightly different route.  We opted to drive south through Beckley for two reasons—visit a couple more Dollar General stores and shop at the Jo Ann Fabric store there.  We actually went to four more Dollar General stores though Lynn didn’t find much.  But she was much more successful at the Jo Ann Fabric store, buying a bunch of $2 shirts that I’m sure she will someday put vinyl letting on plus some spray paint she’d been looking for.

I had received a text from Sarah Russell that no longer was she available on Saturday to help me with QuickBooks.  She wondered if I could meet her today from 3:00 – 5:00 so I said yes, which pushed us a little to get back in time.  But since we left Hawks Nest early we didn’t have much trouble getting home by 2:00 in plenty of time to get to Central to meet Sarah.

In the meantime, on the way we took a short detour to Grandview WV where there is a park with a very nice overlook of the New River as it does a horseshoe curve.  The park is appropriately named.   I took several more nice pictures, ending up with 139 pictures from this short trip.

As I mentioned above, we got home in time for me to meet Sarah and for Lynn to visit with her mother.  Sarah brought along her two very small girls (one born in June) who were very cooperative with us as she showed me how she had done certain things including the payroll and quarterly taxes.  I’ve now done these once but might need more hand holding in the future.  It isn’t so much that these are hard but they are crucial.

After Sarah and I finished up I came home so Lynn and I could eat.  Then we took a quick trip to Aldi’s so she could get a few groceries. 

As we drove home today we talked about possibly doing another of these quick get-aways in November.  We’ll have to see what the weather is like because we don’t want to do anything indoors yet due to coronavirus.  There are still some parks and/or nature areas in Virginia we want to visit such as the Channels area near Abingdon.  We briefly looked into Breaks Interstate Park but it is almost five hours away though still in Virginia.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 15           Infected                   Died

World               39,145,377           1,102,299

US                       8,213,905              222,688

Virginia               162,941                  3,388

Augusta County          593                         8

Virginia had over 1,300 new cases today.  We certainly do not have a handle on this epidemic yet.  The number of new cases in the US is over 60,000.  Dr. Fauci says we need to get it down to 10,000 daily.

ABC says the virus is surging in record numbers.  Cases are rising in 38 states including.  Plus, a third person has been confirmed to have been re-infected.  That’s not good!   One piece of good news for me is that some research says type O blood people may not get COVID-19 as easy or have as bad of a case.  I’m pretty sure I have O+ blood.

October 16, 2020

Lynn got some bad news today.  There has been a positive case of COVID-19 at The Legacy where her mother is.  As a result, they are now disallowing Lynn, her sisters, and her brother to visit her mother in person.  On the one hand, you can’t blame the administrators there for wanting to lock down their facility tightly because they don’t want an epidemic there like that which has occurred in many nursing homes throughout the United States.  But on the other hand, her mother is at her end-of-life stage.  She is very weak and bedridden.  If there are no more positive cases among residents and staff for 14 days then they will allow the Hangers to return to seeing their mother.  I hope Mrs. Hanger can hold on for two more weeks; it would be very sad that her family had such an abrupt end to seeing her.

My brother is trying to work out a plan for our family at Thanksgiving.  Planning is so hard with COVID-19.  He is offering to treat everyone who comes to a Thanksgiving dinner at Ohio Inn in Athens.  They have a large room where families can sit socially distant.  And the Inn has plenty of rooms to it would be very convenient.  The last time our family had Thanksgiving in Ohio was 2008 (according to my pictures).  Lynn and I will go for sure; our kids and their families are still in the process of deciding if they’ll make the trip.

I spent another full day at Central.  I ran into another hornet’s nest.  This time it was the credit card statements.  Central has three credit cards, one for the pastor, one for the administrative assistant, and one for Staples for ordering online.  In QuickBooks, you are supposed to enter credit card purchases similar to way bills are entered.  Then, when the credit card bill comes, you are supposed to reconcile the bill against the QuickBooks records.  The last step in the reconciliation is that QuickBooks will print a check to the credit card company for the amount on the bill.  Well, for four months now this has not been done.  The bills have been paid but the accounts not reconciled.  It took me nearly all day to go back and enter the data correctly and reconcile two of the three credit card accounts.  I got stuck on the last one because there’s a missing statement. 

I had hoped that once I got all of the previous errors fixed it would only take me one day per week to do the bookkeeper’s work at Central.  This may prove to be true but it will be a long day.  There’s just so much to do:  bills, credit cards, payroll, taxes, pension and insurance for the pastor, deposits, keeping track of individual contributions, monthly reports for the Church Council, and reconciling three bank accounts and three credit cards. 

ABC News tonight reported that Trump said we are “rounding the turn on the virus” yet there are rising numbers of cases in 39 states.  There were over 63,000 cases in the past 24 hours—something which hasn’t happened since July.  There are more than 8,000,000 cases in the US now.  Trump’s right-hand man Chris Christie, who spent a week in the ICU with COVID-19, has now taken an about face and says he was wrong and should have been wearing a mask.  He said it hit him “like a freight train.”  Phizer says they may have a vaccine by the third week in November.  Hoping to woo some of the older vote, Trump promised seniors in Florida that they would be at the front of the line to get vaccinated.

Here are today’s numbers from worldometers.info:

October 16           Infected                   Died

World               39,542,503           1,108,153

US                       8,284,686              223,605

Virginia               164,124                  3,408

Augusta County          607                         8

The election is just nineteen days away.  I hope the polls are right.  They have Biden with a big lead over Trump. 

Lynn and I have started a tradition for Friday night dinner—hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike followed by ice cream at Smiley’s.  Good eating!

October 17, 2020

Today was a typical fall Saturday—sunny and cool.  It was good football weather and although WVU allowed 25% of its stadium to be full for today’s game against Kansas we weren’t about to attend.  After a very poor first quarter where WVU fell behind 10-0 they rallied for the next 38 points.  The final score was 38-17.  The Mountaineers are now 3-1 though they haven’t played the tough ones yet.

This morning I did my usual—spent it at Central working on the books.  I calculated today that I had to unreconciled then reconcile correctly a total of 35 months of records:  May, June, July, August, and September for seven accounts:  Main checking account, Samaritan funds, Memorial funds, Money Market account, Pastor’s credit card, administrative assistant’s credit card, and the Staples credit card.  After a busy morning working on this in which I discovered even more errors that had been made, I now have 29 of the 35 statements reconciled.  I hope to finish this task on Monday.  And when I finish this I still have several other items of unfinished business so it will be a busy week next week.

Lynn got news today that The Legacy had reversed its decision to not allow her and her brothers and sisters to see their mother.  So she was able to help Mrs. Hanger with dinner tonight.  Technically, Mrs. Hanger is still classified as “near end of life” though Lynn said she had a pretty good evening today.  She was coherent and ate OK.

Lynn had her own share of running around today but between her shopping and other obligations she fixed a huge pot of vegetable soup.  I love it!  We’ll likely be eating it for days but that’s fine by me.

Tonight we had another shopping excursion to local Dollar Generals.  Lynn wanted some cleaning supplies but each of the four stores we went to had bare shelves in the cleanser section.  We went to stores in Verona, Fishersville, and two in Waynesboro.  It was disappointing.

On today’s news is that ten states, including West Virginia, reported their highest single-day tallies of new COVID-19 infections on Friday and the country reported its highest one-day total since July, as experts say a dangerous fall surge of coronavirus infections is well underway.  More than 30 states have accumulated more new cases in the last week than they did the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  So, no surprise, we are still a long, long way from having this under control despite what our President says.

Here are today’s numbers:

October 17           Infected                   Died

World               39,936,817           1,114,182

US                       8,341,824              224,278

Virginia               165,238                  3,422

Augusta County          616                         8

Another day with more than a thousand new cases in Virginia. 

One thing I’ve been avoiding lately are our bathroom scales.  I know I have gained weight.  I can feel it.  I’ve just done little to no exercise and have not curtailed my eating.  I need to do better.

October 18, 2020

We had absolutely nothing on our calendar for today.  We messaged Jim about meeting him today but he said another day would suit him better.  So Lynn baked an apple pie and we had the Gutshall family over mid-afternoon.  It was a cool but sunny day with the temperature around 60o.  The pie was super delicious!

Things are still so abnormal at our house.  When the Gutshalls come over, no longer do we go inside and eat.  We just put food on the porch and usually eat at the Pergola, maintaining safe social distance outdoors.  With winter coming, we won’t be able to do this much longer.  I hope there are more advancements in vaccines and treatments before icy weather.

In order to make the apple pie we tried out her new apple peeler.  It took us a while to figure out how it worked and once we did we were disappointed that it peeled more than we would have manually but it really churned out the apples quickly.  We’ll get better at using it.

This morning was typical for a Sunday.  I attended Sunday School via Zoom and played the piano for it.  Then Lynn and I went to Staunton, our first of two trips there.  On the first trip we went by her friend Cheryl’s and her sister Kay’s for some quick errands then we went to Walmart for some shopping.  On the second trip Lynn visited with her mother.  I went along for the ride.

In the afternoon, before the Gutshalls came over, we found time to take a walk.  The weather was cool but still good for walking, something we hadn’t done much of in the past three months thanks to her broken foot.  We walked a little over a mile.  We need to get back to our walking routine, for sure.

ABC said 41 states are showing a rise in hospitalizations today, including Virginia.  There are great fears of a second wave.  Europe is experiencing this now. 

Here are today’s statistics:

October 18           Infected                   Died

World               40,244,914           1,117,902

US                       8,386,142              224,726

Virginia               166,138                  3,433

Augusta County          623                         8

Here’s another issue with getting old—sleep irregularities.  I get up at least once every night to go to the bathroom.  That’s not so bad because usually I go back to sleep fairly quickly.  But some nights I get painful leg cramps after only an hour or so of sleep.  I looked online to see the cause of these:  there is no known cause.  The story on leg cramps is that they are very common among older people, usually go away on their own in about ten minutes, are not a sign that something else is wrong, and, worst of all, there’s no known treatment.  I am in bed around 9:00 PM each night but some mornings I wake at 4:00 AM and never get back to a good sleep.  I’ll doze on and off until 5:00, then watch the clock until 6:00 when I get up.  In two weeks we switch from daylight savings time back to normal time which means then I’ll be waking up at 3:00 AM.  I’m not looking forward to that.

October 19, 2020

I can’t believe Trump attacked Dr. Fauci the way he did today.  He called him “a disaster” and called doctors “idiots.”  ABC news called his attack “bizarre.”  Fauci, like everyone else, said he wasn’t surprised Trump got coronavirus and this got Trump upset.  Trump said “if I listened to the scientists we would right now have a country in a massive depression.”  The overwhelming majority of Americans trust Fauci much more than Trump.  I know I do. 

It has been interesting to learn how many people are voting already.  More than 30 million Americans have voted already, more than five times the number in 2016.  More Democrats then Republicans have voted early according to ABC.

My day was another day devoted to Central UMC.  In addition to doing my bookkeeping work, I also did the weekly count of contributions with Sam Richardson first thing this morning and this afternoon got our weekly load of food for the Food Pantry from the Verona Food Bank.  I stayed to do more bookkeeping work until after 4:00.  I do see the light at the end of the tunnel; by the end of this week I should have the books in good shape.

Forty one states are seeing an increase in hospitalizations today.  Epidemiologists have a grim forecast for the next six weeks.  Four key battleground states — Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin — are seeing record-high novel coronavirus cases, sparking concerns the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction a little more than two weeks before Election Day.  As I wrote yesterday, Europe is in a severe second wave of infections.  Many countries are locking down tightly. 

My brother is coming for my 70th birthday in two weeks.  He asked today for recommendations for where he could stay.  I sent him four possibilities for hotels but also suggested that he could stay here, especially since our upstairs is uninhabited.  We had several text exchanges and I believe he is going to take us up on the offer to stay here. 

Lynn and I managed to get in a two mile walk this afternoon.  It was the most we’d walked since she broke her foot.  She said later that her foot was hurting some.  She reported that her mother slept through lunch today when she went to help her with it.  Her sister Kay said Mrs. Hanger did the same at dinner time. 

October 19           Infected                   Died

World               40,604,956           1,122,128

US                       8,446,300              225,168

Virginia               166,828                  3,457

Augusta County          624                         8

The good news is that Augusta County had only one additional case since yesterday.  I wish the news elsewhere was that good.  The US had over 60,000 new cases.

October 20, 2020

Today was a beautiful fall day with a high of 79o which is 15o higher than the average high.  It was sunny which made the fall colors stand out.  Lynn and I managed to walk two miles again today for the second day in a row.  We both got hot and tired.  We are clearly not in the kind of shape we were three months ago.

It was another church day for me.  I do think I’m getting the QuickBooks chores behind me now.  I have all of the bills paid, deposits recorded, and accounts reconciled with the exception of one credit card account which is missing its August statement.  I’ve asked Pastor Won to go online to get it.  We got good news today in that our PPP loan was officially forgiven; that is, the federal government paid it off.  This was the intent all along, I was just glad to get all the paperwork I submitted approved and get this behind us.  The money definitely helped our church.

I got home in time to meet Freddie’s bus.  I always enjoy talking with him after school.  As usual, we stayed outside until Ann came to pick him up.  I’m a little worried about what we’ll do when cold weather gets here.  I suppose I’ll open the basement door and have him come in and stay downstairs.  Ann doesn’t want him around us when he comes straight from school.  He wears a mask at school and on the bus.

Despite all of her craft projects, Lynn is a little bored now.  She isn’t doing as much work for the school system now.  All she had on her agenda today was a haircut and a Zoom meeting with the Staff-Parish committee at Central.  Her meeting was about picking candidates to interview for the secretary position which I hope will also develop into a secretary-treasurer position.  As I’ve written before, I plan to stay on as treasurer until the new person can be slowly trained and competent before I turn over QuickBooks.

ABC news tonight said that cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing, despite Trump’s saying we are “rounding the curve” on it.  There have been nearly one million new cases this month.  A quarter of a million Americans have died from it since it began.  Those hospitalized with it are five times more likely to die from it than from influenza.  Hospitalizations are on the rise in 42 states including Virginia.  Over the last five weeks, cases have been steadily increasing across the nation. The United States is currently averaging over 55,000 new cases a day — the highest that average has been since Aug. 5. New cases have surged by over 61% since Sept. 12. Meanwhile, current COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to hover between 36,000 and 37,000.  In the past week alone, the country has recorded nearly 386,000 new cases, including two days where there were over 60,000 cases reported — the highest daily figures since late July.

Here are today’s statistics:

October 20           Infected                   Died

World               40,988,477           1,128,228

US                       8,514,293              226,047

Virginia               167,754                  3,485

Augusta County          622                         8

Two more weeks until the big day.  November 3 is a big day for our country and for me, too.  Election Day will be on my 70th birthday.  That’s a milestone not many of my direct ancestors made it to.  I look forward to having fewer e-mails and texts from political candidates.  I get about thirty each day now.  None stay in my inbox very long.

I managed to get our grass cut today between the time I came home from Central and Freddie’s bus came.  The grass wasn’t so much of an issue as the leaves.  I don’t rake leaves, I cut them.  The yard looks much better now though it won’t last because the leaves are coming down now.

September 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

September 1, 2020

Gus, Betsy, and Freddie headed to school today for the first time since mid-March.  Gus and Betsy rode the bus to and from Stewart Middle School.  Freddie was dropped off by Josh then was supposed to have ridden the bus to our house at the conclusion of his first day in first grade.  Imagine my surprise when the bus stopped at the end of our driveway, where I was, and the driver told me he had left Freddie at Stewart Middle School so he could ride with Betsy and Gus home.  He said he wasn’t sure anyone would be here.  This was more than strange since someone has been at this house every day for the past several years to meet Betsy and/or Freddie.  We quickly called Ann who was nearby, on her way to our house to pick him up.  What made this even more confusing is that we had talked to Ann prior to the bus arriving.  She told us that Betsy and Gus were already on their way home on the bus and were the only two students on the bus.  In other words, Freddie had been left at the middle school and none of his siblings were there.  Ann was not happy, to say the least.  Fortunately, Betsy and Gus had their phones with them.  When Ann called Betsy she said their bus was turning around because it had to go back and pick someone up who had been left behind.  It was Freddie!

 

Oh, the troubles we go through because Augusta County redistricted the Gutshall’s house out of the Clymore Elementary School district!  For everyone’s sake, I wish Freddie could catch the bus with Betsy and Gus every day.  That way, no one would have to be here.  But that won’t happen because the only reason Freddie is given permission to go to Clymore is because we are listed as his afterschool care and we live in the Clymore district.

 

I think the full story is simply that Freddie’s bus driver screwed up.  From now on, I think he’ll be dropping Freddie here on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he has in-person school.

 

This morning I made a trip to the bank.  The main branch of Wells Fargo in Harrisonburg, had been closed since the pandemic hit.  We have our safety deposit box there and I wanted to update the external hard drive I keep in it with new pictures and files.  Plus, Lynn’s passport needed to be returned to the box and I wanted to double check on some items for Lynn.  In order to do these things, I had to make an appointment to meet a Wells Fargo employee at the bank in order to get access to the box.  I had no trouble getting all of these done though it took longer than usual thanks to all the inconveniences I had to go through just to get in to the box.

 

What I had to check on for Lynn was to see if a copy of her Advanced Medical Directive was there.  It was.  I had copies of mine here but couldn’t find a copy of hers.  Likewise, I have copies of my will here at the house but she doesn’t.  Hers was in the safety deposit box so perhaps someday I’ll get copies of those documents, bring them home and copy them, then put them back.  Since it is somewhat of a hassle to do this now, requiring a bank appointment, I may wait until later.

 

This afternoon we had a third contractor come by to measure our windows and show us what his company offered.  Once we get this quote we’ll be deciding.  Our windows are really in bad shape.

 

Today is Josh’s birthday and to help Ann out we made a trip to Smiley’s Ice Cream to pick up an ice cream order she had purchased for him.  She worked all day, of course, then had to deal with the bus mixup plus cook a big dinner for the birthday boy and family.  When we got there all three kids who had been to school reported that it went OK for them today.

 

Today our lunatic President promoted a conspiracy theory he had described the day before about a supposed plane full of black-clad protesters he claimed had aimed to disrupt the Republican convention last week. He said that someone told him about a mysterious plane. “That person was on a plane, said that there were about six people like that person, more or less, and what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters — people that obviously were looking for trouble,” Trump said before departing on Air Force One en route to Kenosha, Wisconsin.  He also told a reporter from Fox News that “people that are in the dark shadows” have “control” over his Democratic opponent for the presidency, former Vice President Joe Biden.  What a weirdo!

 

Yesterday I wrote that James Madison University, which just began classes a week ago, had 390 coronavirus cases already.  Tonight the big news is that JMU is stopping in-person classes.  According to a press release from the university, JMU will transition to primarily online learning, with some hybrid instruction for accreditation and licensure requirements, graduate research and specialized upper-class courses requiring equipment and space, through the month of September.  Classes will take place as scheduled for the remainder of the week unless students are otherwise notified by their instructors. In-person classes will transition to online no later than Monday, September 7. The release also says that residents will be asked to return home by September 7 unless they seek an exemption to stay.

 

I wonder how long it will take Augusta County Schools to do the same….

 

Here are today’s numbers:

September 1        Infected                   Died

World               25,888,249              860,249

US                       6,256,206              188,869

Virginia                121,615                  2,612

Augusta County          369                         4

The data shows an increase in US infections in the past 24 hours of over 50,000.  There were over 1,200 new deaths in the US and over 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Plus, Virginia’s number of deaths were 32 in just one day—much higher than normal.  Are we winning or losing this battle?

 

September 2, 2020

Lynn has been on a wooden sign kick.  Two days ago she finished her “Happy Fall, Y’All” sign which will go on the front porch soon.  Yesterday she made another one for Christmas which she finished today.  She is such a crafty person!   They all look professionally done.

 

The news today was that JMU had over 500 cases of coronavirus in just one week of in-person classes.  That’s why they sent everyone back home for the month of September.  Dr. Fauci urged states to not let Labor Day celebrations ruin the fall.  Ohio had the largest single day jump since July with school reopening there.  But JMU’s idea of sending kids back home is what Dr. Fauci says “It’s the worst thing you could do…Keep them at the university in a place that’s sequestered enough from the other students,” he added. “But don’t have them go home because they could be spreading it in their home state.”

 

Today was an early day for us.  Lynn had an appointment at Augusta Health for an x-ray on her foot at 7:45 followed by a 8:15 appointment with the orthopedic doctor.  The doctor said that her foot was healing albeit slowly.  He told her to start wearing tennis shoes around the house but not to go on long walks with me yet.  I guess this is what we both expected.

 

Today was Henry’s day to attend school for the first time since March.  He wanted to go on the Wednesday-Friday schedule because most of his friends were on that plan.  I hope Fort Defiance High School students do a better job of social distancing than some of the pictures that were on the news today of other schools.

 

ABC news ran a story about the false claim that the coronavirus death totals are exaggerated:

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report is being twisted by conspiracy theorists to imply the COVID-19 death toll is not as serious as it sounds, health experts say. In response, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical authorities say unequivocally that at least 180,000 Americans have died because of this virus.  And if anything, the figure is likely an undercount, say health experts. “Let there not be any confusion,” Fauci said after President Donald Trump retweeted an article that inaccurately suggested the real number of COVID-19 deaths is 9,000. “It’s not 9,000 deaths from COVID-19. It’s 180,000-plus deaths,” Fauci told Good Morning America. “The point that the CDC was trying to make was that a certain percentage of [deaths] had nothing else but COVID,” Fauci said. “That does not mean that someone who has hypertension, or diabetes who dies of COVID didn’t die of COVID-19. They did.”

 

A school that I have direct ties to just lost its secretary to COVID-19.  She was at Montcalm High School, which absorbed my alma mater Bramwell High School when it closed.  Montcalm is the school where the Hill family scholarship has been given for the past forty years in memory of our parents.  Mercer County (WV) has had 24 deaths from COVID-19; the other 23 occurred at a nursing home in Princeton.

 

As usual, Lynn went to help her mother with lunch today.  While she was gone, I decided to walk, something I have done very little of since she broke her foot.  My plan was to walk the one mile out and back for two miles.  When I passed the Michael’s house, the dog Remy came running at me, as he typically does when he isn’t tied up or in the house.  After I got past him, I decided that I didn’t want to fight him again on the way back so I’d keep walking on the Leaport loop.  This is the opposite direction that Lynn and I typically walk the 3.5 miles circuit and it means that three miles out I’d be coming to the steepest part of the route as you ascend up Limestone Road to Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church.  My legs didn’t hurt that much but I discovered that today is horribly humid.  I made it without stopping but really sweated.   By the. end of the day I had accumulated around 4.5 miles and 11,300 steps.

 

Part of those steps were earned cutting the grass since I did both the riding and pushing.  This year has been terrible for grass cutting.  I have to cut every 4-5 days and even then the yard looks bad.  And what happened as I finished mowing today?  It rained again.  Tomorrow’s forecast includes a tornado warning.  What’s next?

 

Tomorrow is September 3, the day we were supposed to be leaving on our Brazil and Argentina trip.  Maybe next year…  Brazil is almost as bad as the US in terms of handling coronavirus.

 

The CDC sent a letter to state health officials saying they should be ready to issue a vaccine by November 1.  Is this just a coincidence that the election takes place on November 3?   Critics worry that the vaccine might be rushed.  Dr. Fauci said the end of the year is a better time frame.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

 

September 2        Infected                   Died

World               26,150,138              866,020

US                       6,295,733              189,892

Virginia                122,542                  2,641

Augusta County          372                         4

 

Another thousand Americans dead since yesterday.  Almost 900 more Virginians infected in 24 hours and 29 more dead.  This is a broken record—same old, same old.

 

Tonight was Zoom night for the Hill family.  Ann’s family didn’t join but the others did.  Jim and boys didn’t last the full time but we enjoyed chatting with Thomas, Georgia, and Kay.

 

September 3, 2020

Lynn has been interpreting for many Rockingham County Schools’ IEP meetings lately.  She had three yesterday and another one today, all via Zoom.  She amazes me when she does this.  On the call will be a Hispanic mother, SPED teacher, principal, perhaps another teacher or specialist, and Lynn.  The only way the mom can understand anything the others say is via Lynn.  And she is quick—whether she’s asked to relay conversation or read from a document that is shared.  Either way, her Spanish skills are so superb!  I don’t know who leaves the call with more appreciation, the teachers or the mother.  Actually, I think I am the one who appreciates her the most.

 

The Gutshall kids have made it through three days of school so far.  Freddie loves his school so much he wishes it would meet five days a week instead of two.  I met the bus at the end of our driveway today.  Ann wasn’t far behind picking him up.

 

I spent time today at Central UMC getting some files that are needed in order for Central to request forgiveness for one of the US Government PPP loans.  We just have to provide evidence that despite the coronavirus epidemic the church did not reduce staff or reduce salaries.  The bookkeeper, Maddie, wasn’t there when I got there so I logged onto the treasurer’s computer and found the files I thought I would need.

 

When I got back home I found that I need more evidence so I’ll be making another trip there tomorrow.  I do have a desire and need to learn QuickBooks so I can act as a backup for the church in using the financial software.  I watched the first 25% of a four hour tutorial on it this afternoon.

 

Our President, speaking to fans of his in North Carolina, said that they should vote by mail then try to vote in person, too.  He was trying to make the point that the mail-in process was corrupt and they would likely be able to vote again in person.  But what he asked every one of them to do is to commit voter fraud, a crime.  Can you believe this idiot?  Dan Rather posted that it was illegal to vote twice but not to get impeached twice.

 

Tonight John and Ginny Bauman came over to swing and talk.  John lost his mother last week so both families had something in common.  We chatted for nearly two hours.  It was nice having another couple to talk with.

 

Here are the daily statistics:

September 3        Infected                   Died

World               26,456,505              872,473

US                       6,334,593              191,027

Virginia                123,668                  2,652

Augusta County          373                         4

Nearly 40,000 new cases in the US and over 1,000 new deaths.  Virginia has over 1,000 new cases.   I think I can just copy and paste those sentences every day now.

 

September 4, 2020

I spent most of the morning at Central UMC.  First I recorded the congregational prayer I had written for this Sunday’s (virtual) service.  Then I logged onto the Treasurer’s computer and produced some additional documents I needed for the PPP loan forgiveness application.  I also scanned some other documents to a flash drive then uploaded all of these documents to the online form for applying for the $18,237 loan to be forgiven.  I submitted it before lunch and got back a reply from our local bank that it all looked good.  The government has 90 days to reply.

 

After I got back I decided to make a run to the trash dump.  We had our normal load but the Gutshalls had a huge load.  They must be cleaning out in preparation for moving though it will likely be after October when they move.

 

Lynn had some friends over this morning while I was at Central.  She had another friend who planned to come over this afternoon but, no surprise, it rained again.  I guess I’ll be cutting grass in another two or three days.

 

Now that there’s a hint of a coronavirus vaccine that may be ready by the end of the year there’s a discussion about who should get vaccinated first.  I believe the plan is to vaccinate front line health care workers first, followed by nursing home residents and others at a high risk of infection.  I wonder if I’ll be in that category with my respiratory history.  I’m anxious for the vaccine to be available, of course, but I also want hard evidence that it hasn’t been rushed to the public without sufficient testing.  Who knows what long term effects any vaccine could have?  We’ve only had this virus for around nine months.

 

We had another great dinner featuring rib eye steak from the grill, corn on the cob, baked tomatoes, and a salad.  No wonder I weighed a little up this morning.

 

After dinner we went to Kohl’s in Waynesboro.  We had nothing else going on and Lynn had a $10 coupon so we went there to buy some wash cloths.  She also got some paint at Michael’s.  She has making more porch signs in her plans.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 4        Infected                   Died

World               26,722,291              877,229

US                       6,378,419              191,809

Virginia                124,779                  2,662

Augusta County          380                         4

I read one projection today that the US will have 400,000 deaths by the end of the year.  We had 800 more today.  I did the math and if we keep this up we’ll be near 300,000.   Another 1,100 cases in Virginia.  No surprise.  I wonder if any of the 7 new cases in Augusta County were connected to a school.  Augusta County still looks much better than Rockingham and Harrisonburg where the total number of cases is near 2,000.   There are over 50 deaths there and nearly 200 still hospitalized.  RMH must be near full.  I’m glad we went to the Waynesboro Kohl’s instead of the Harrisonburg store.

 

The weather has taken a turn for cooler temperatures.  It is supposed to be in the 50’s overnight and highs for the next two days not getting out of the 70’s.  There is no sign of rain for the first time in weeks.

 

September 5, 2020

What a beautiful day!  Low humidity, nice temperature, no rain.

 

One of the tasks we did in the morning was to change some travel plans we had for 2021.  We had booked a vacation with Globus for September taking us to Brazil and Argentina featuring a stop at Igwasu Falls.  But given how bad coronavirus has ravaged Brazil, we decided to change this trip to a Lisbon – Northern Spain – Barcelona trip in July.  Fortunately, Globus was able to make this change, and supposedly transferred the deposit we made for the first trip to the second.  I say supposedly because we later got an e-mail from Globus showing that we had a deposit due on this new trip by Monday, September 7.  It didn’t show that our original deposit had been transferred.  I emailed the agent but we haven’t heard back from him yet.

 

Today I finished a task I had begun yesterday of fixing the water damage to the walls and ceiling in our living room.  There wasn’t that much that some spackling and paint didn’t fix though it took a little while and multiple coats of spackling.  I still had the paint from when we had painted the living room in 2007.  I also had to cover up some water marks on the ceiling.  I had bought some paint specifically for that task and it seemed to work.  I’d have to say that the room looks much better now.

 

With such good weather I felt like I had to get outside today.  So while Lynn and her friend Cheryl did some work on Lynn’s Cricut machine, I went to Fort Defiance High School and walked 12 laps around the football field.  Then I drove across the street to Stewart Middle School and walked one lap around the trail there and then around the school itself.  By the end I had walked 11,335 steps, 5.2 miles.  Since most of it was level it wasn’t that hard.  Lynn doesn’t like to walk around the football field—she says it is too boring.  I don’t mind because my mind is on freeplay the entire time I’m walking so it doesn’t really matter to me where I’m walking.

 

I’ve enjoyed listening to Sirius Music Channels 58 and 59 lately.  Both play older country music which I like.  In mid-July I wrote about how we had re-subscribed to Sirius after they sent us an offer to come back for $5 per month.  I play it on the Amazon Echo in the kitchen we got for free when we re-subscribed with them.   I also listen to it on my radio (through my phone) when I’m in the car.  Lynn does the same since her car has the original radio with Sirius on it.

 

Lynn has been working on another one of her signs.  Actually she’s creating signs on the back sides of the signs she has already made.  For example, on the back of her “Happy Fall, Y’all” sign she’s doing one which says “Give Thanks” for Thanksgiving.  Her signs are quite professional looking, as I’ve said before.  She and her Cricut are a good combination.

 

Tomorrow Lynn plans to stain her Pergola.  Her friend Cheryl is going to help her and I know I will, too.

 

People are better nowadays about wearing masks.  I’ve noticed this when we go out because I typically stay in the car while Lynn goes in to stores.  Last night, for example, we were at Kohl’s and Michael’s in Harrisonburg.  Previously we were at Lowe’s and Walmart in Staunton.  I’d estimate that 95% of the customers wore their masks.  Of course, signs at every store say they are required but no one seems to enforce that.  The other interesting thing is that at least 10% of those who wear masks wear them improperly, usually by not covering up their noses.

 

Our grandson Thomas got his first haircut since the pandemic began today.  Kay sent us before and after pictures.  He looks great now.

 

There wasn’t a lot of news today about COVID-19.  I don’t think that’s because it is more under control.  I think it is just because the stories are so repetitive.  For example, here are today’s repetitive statistics:

September 5        Infected                   Died

World               27,018,734              882,699

US                       6,427,289              192,784

Virginia                125,727                  2,677

Augusta County          382                         4

As usual, there are 5,000 more deaths internationally, near 1,000 more in the US, another and 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Augusta County now has 20 people currently hospitalized.  That doesn’t sound good.  Virginia had 15 deaths in the past 24 hours.  I hope the news media hasn’t become callous regarding these statistics.  I don’t think I am.

 

ABC news said tonight that the number of coronavirus cases is still rising in thirty states.  Health officials are concerned that all the Labor Day celebrations taking place this weekend will lead to more outbreaks.

 

September 6, 2020

Today was Sunday so I had responsibilities this morning playing the piano for Sunday School via Zoom.  It was another beautiful day, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 80’s.

 

This afternoon Henry, Betsy, and Cheryl Kent came over and the five of us started staining the Pergola.  I had disconnected the swings and gotten them out of the way so the five of us got the entire frame stained.  It took about two hours and we used nearly the entire gallon of stain.  So when we finished Lynn and I ordered another gallon of stain for pickup at Lowe’s for the swings.  We went there tonight and picked it up.

 

I actually spent over an hour after dinner staining one of the five swings.  It wasn’t easy because there are all kinds of tough-to-reach sections and shiny bolts to be avoided.  I got the one swing pretty well finished though there are some areas which need touching up.  Lynn came out just as I was finishing and found several places she wants redone.  Lynn is much more of a perfectionist than I am when it comes to this sort of thing.  It’s probably a good thing because I know I tend to go too fast with many jobs.  However, without getting mad about it, I told her that tomorrow she and Cheryl can do the other four swings.

 

Lynn has been finishing up another of her signs today—the Thanksgiving sign which is on the back side of the Fall sign.  Showing her perfectioinist nature, she has redone it several times from scratch and finally has it the way she wants it.

 

I keep telling her that she can’t be that much of a perfectioinist because she is married to me and I have many flaws.  I’m sure she’d like to have me redone from scratch.

 

Lynn has continued to help her mother with lunch.  Mrs. Hanger’s health is basically the same as it has been for the past couple of weeks.  It isn’t particularly good since she needs help with so many daily functions, but it isn’t getting worse, apparently.

 

This evening Kay texted us and asked if we could meet her and her family tomorrow halfway between our houses, perhaps around Front Royal.  Lynn got her sister Jane to take the lunchtime duties so we plan to go.

 

There’s not much news today about the coronavirus.  Like last night, I hope we’re not forgetting about it.  Here are the daily statistics:

September 6        Infected                   Died

World               27,275,151              887,094

US                       6,458,906              193,214

Virginia                126,926                  2,678

Augusta County          385                         4

The numbers show a little lower increase today than we’ve seen.  Let’s hope the trend continues.

 

September 7, 2020

WVU suspended 29 students and switched from in-person to virtual classes today in the midst of an uptick in coronaviruses in Morgantown.  They are scheduled to return to in-person classes in three weeks.

 

Today was Labor Day.  Kay texted us and asked if we could meet them earlier than she had requested last night because they had an appointment at noon to pick apples in an orchard near Winchester.  We suggested that we just meet them at the orchard and they agreed.  So we left home around 9:00, stopped at a Jo Ann fabric store in Winchester so Lynn could buy some things on sale, then got to the orchard around 10:45.  The Foys weren’t far behind.

 

We had a very good visit with them.  As it turned out, I went apple picking with them while Lynn stayed behind with her broken foot.  We ate a good lunch there.  Lynn and I had taken our usual yogurt lunch but we also bought some apple pie flavored ice cream.  Kay and family got some sandwiches at the orchard market and we enjoyed a good picnic lunch there.  I was able to take some good photos.

 

The apples that we picked were Honeycrisp.  I don’t know that I’d ever had any of this variety before.  They were crisp and very sweet—quite delicious.  They were also expensive.  They were $2.49 if you picked them yourself and $2.99 for pre-picked ones.  Since I went to the orchard with Kay and her family, we got around 1/3 of a bushel.  The cost was around $1 per apple.

 

After our great visit with Thomas, Georgia, Kay, and Andy, we drove back home where Cheryl Kent met us shortly after we returned, around 3:30.  She, Lynn, and I spent the next three hours staining the swings on the Pergola.  The swings weren’t easy to stain because they have narrow slats that you have to get stained on all four sides plus chains and bolts to avoid.  But we got it done although I didn’t finish cleaning up until 8:00 tonight.  I had picked up hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike Market for our dinner while Lynn and Cheryl finished the last of the swings.

 

I wish I could say our work on the Pergola is over but I think we’re going to give the swings a coat of polyurethane just for the sake of keeping them from weathering.  I don’t know when that will happen.  The Pergola looks very good now with all of the posts, beams, and swings each coated with a cedar colored stain.

 

Our holiday today consisted of just these two events—visiting with Kay & family at the Winchester orchard and staining the remaining four of the five Pergola swings.  All in all it was a good Labor Day.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 7        Infected                   Died

World               27,479,194              896,421

US                       6,485,567              193,534

Virginia                127,571                  2,684

Augusta County          384                         4

Virginia’s numbers look better than usual—under 600 new cases and only 6 additional deaths from the previous day.  Augusta County’s number of infections actually went down by one—must have been an error in the previous day’s numbers.

 

September 8, 2020

Ordinarily today would be a “back to normal” day.  It is the first workday after Labor Day.  Schools are back in session most everywhere though most are virtual.  It is hard to call this a normal day, though.  Oh, how we long for normal!  Thomas and Georgia are in school, 100% online.  Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie are back in school two days per week with the rest virtual.  Faron and Coen started their Pre-School in person.

 

Lynn’s schedule today looked like a pre-COVID day.  She had two phone IEP meetings in the morning, followed by a meeting at Central UMC, then to Legacy to help her Mom with lunch.  Then she has another interpreting phone call in the afternoon.  My schedule was much lighter with only a Food Bank pickup scheduled.

 

I did some photo work in the morning, uploading pictures from yesterday’s visit with the Foys and some recent Pergola pictures.  It takes a while to get all of this done because the process involves several steps:  1.  Transfer the pictures from the camera to the downstairs iMac   2.  Upload each of them to the Photos app on that computer   3.  Create a new album with them on Photos   4.  Upload the pictures to Flickr    5.  Create a new Flickr album with them   6.  Edit the Flickr album, selecting which picture is to be used as the album’s representative picture and copying the album link   7.   Open my homepage (www.joehillfamily.com), sign in as administrator, and edit the list of albums by adding the new link   8.  Send a message including the link to those who might want to view it   9.  Review each of the pictures and select then copy those which should be added to my Favorites folder   10.  Copy the new folder and the new favorites to an external drive which is connected to the iMac   11.  Transfer the new album and favorites to my new laptop.  Eventually all new photos/albums will also be transferred to other external media including the hard drive in our safety deposit box.

 

From ABC news this morning, a little bit of improving news:  there were 24,257 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the first time since June 21 that the United States has reported under 30,000 new cases in a day. Monday’s tally is also far below the country’s record set on July 16, when there were 77,255 new cases in a 24-hour-reporting period.   An additional 267 coronavirus-related fatalities were also recorded Monday, the country’s lowest daily death toll since July 4 and down from a peak of 2,666 new fatalities reported on April 17.

 

When I went to the orchard yesterday with Kay and her family, we chatted for a while about her visit last weekend with Butch.  She told me she had noticed how different the two of us are.  For example, she said that he is much more outgoing and personable.  He had taken her to various places and, at each, she said he had many friends whom she was introduced to.  In confess, I have very few close friends.  In fact, I think it is fair to say that I only have one, Lynn.  I am just not comfortable in social settings like he is.

 

That being said, one thing has happened recently that has helped me.  And it came as a surprise.  I will fully admit that I was not in favor of building the pergola.  I thought it was a frivolous addition to our backyard, would be lots of work for me to construct, and would mean grass cutting inconveniences for the rest of my life here.  Of course, Jim was the real hero in getting it built.  Since the pergola has gone up we have had more people visit us in the yard than we have had in the 32 years we have lived here.  I doubt that I can remember them all, but here is at least a partial list:  John and Ginny Bauman, Cheryl Kent, Cheryl Wright, Mary Gooden, Jan Painter, and Pat Collins.  Tonight, Bee and Janet Myers came down to swing and talk.  Later this week some old friends who now live in eastern Virginia, Howard and Carolyn Miller are coming.  Next weekend our covenant group, consisting of five couples, is coming over.  One positive thing about COVID-19 is that it has encouraged outdoor meetings and our pergola has fit the bill!

 

Lynn has been working on yet another sign today.  This one says “Let it Snow.”  It is on the back side of her Christmas sign.  As usual, it looks very professionally done.

 

I’ve told Lynn that I fully expect Trump to come up with some nefarious hoax/plan in the last two months prior to the election.  We’re in that period now so I’m still wondering what he’ll do.  I’m sure he’ll announce some coronavirus vaccine prior to November 3.  Lynn thinks he’ll try to ramrod through Congress another pandemic relief package which will put money in everyone’s pocket, making them happy with him so they’ll vote for him.  But I think he’ll resort to some dirtier tricks; I’m just not sure what this will be.  I’m looking for him to come out with some big lie about Biden or other “discovery” that will make him look good because right now, according to the pollsters, he’s behind.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 8        Infected                   Died

World               27,721,061              900,845

US                       6,513,302              194,013

Virginia                128,407                  2,686

Augusta County          387                         4

Again the data is improving, though not good.  The US had under 500 new deaths compared to the 1,000+ I had been reporting for weeks.  Virginia only added two though there were over 800 new cases.  Augusta County is creeping towards 400 infections though the number of deaths has remained at four for quite some time.

 

September 9, 2020

Lynn had a full schedule today but we began with an early trip to Costco.  We had lots of items to get both for ourselves and for Central UMC.  It was a quick and seemingly safe trip.

 

When we got back, I started working on some of my picture files while Lynn had her Zoom meetings.  She had four in all today, all IEP updates that came about because of Rockingham County Public Schools changed its daily schedule due to coronavirus.  As I’ve said before, she handles these meetings extremely well.

 

The work I’m doing on my pictures is all selfishly done and is work I enjoy.  The Macs I have allow you to set a folder as the target folder for its screen saver.  When the screen saver kicks in, it displays multiple pictures from the target folder, changing each picture every couple of seconds.  It makes for a great way to display your favorite photos.  Indeed, that’s what I’ve done for the past several years—created a folder, for example, called 2019 Favorites in which I’ve put a copy of my favorite photos from all the photos I took during the year.  For my screen saver on my big screen iMac, I created a folder called Recent Favorites and inside that folder dropped the 2020 Favorites, 2019 Favorites, 2018 Favorites, 2017 Favorites, and 2016 Favorites.  Now the screen saver randomly picks photos from any of these nested enclosed folders and displays them.  It gives me a snapshot of many places we’ve gone in the past five years, family events, grandkids, celebrations, etc.  Plus, since all of the photos are good ones—those I’ve handpicked to be my favorites—the photos are all pleasant to view.  Well, nearly all except the 2016 Favorites.  I had not done a job with the 2016 Favorites folder.  I had merely copied all photos in that folder from an event I wanted to highlight, whether the photos were good or not.  And I had left out lots of things we did in 2016 such as our Peru trip.  So for the past day or so I have cleaned up the 2016 Favorites folder, making sure that all the photos in there were good ones and making sure all of the 2016 events were included.  It was fairly easy to do since I have all of my pictures arranged by events, such as 2016 Peru or 2016 Thanksgiving.

 

This job has given me something to do anytime I have spare time—work on creating a 2015 Favorites folder, then a 2014 Favorites, etc.  When the screen saver kicks in you get a really nice mix of pictures featuring the kids at different ages.  Plus you can manually kick off the screen saver by moving the pointer to any of the four extreme corners of the screen.   On the big screen iMac the pictures look especially nice.  Of course, I can copy my Recent Favorites folder to each of our laptops when I want to.

 

I worked on the pictures for quite a while, almost too long.   Near 3:00 I realized that it was going to rain later today and likely each day for the next several days.  It hasn’t rained for the past four or five days so it was important for me to get our grass mowed today.  Plus, we were getting company tonight and I wanted the yard to look good.  So for the next 90 minutes I mowed, both riding and pushing, and finished just in the nick of time to head to Penn Laird to pick up our pizza.

 

We had previously arranged with Howard and Carolyn Miller that we’d have pizza here when they stopped here at 5:45. We’ve done several things with them in the past including a couple of bike rides.  Carolyn not only taught with Lynn at Cub Run Elementary but is an excellent artist.  We have three of her paintings framed in our bedroom.  Howard is a Mennonite minister, a very bright and easy-to-talk-to fellow.  We enjoyed their company a lot.  We ate some Smiley’s sorbet for dessert.

 

No sooner did they leave than it was time to start the family Zoom meeting as we do each Wednesday night.  Everyone was able to join us tonight which made for an enjoyable call.  What a good day this was!

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 9        Infected                   Died

World               28,019,771              907,919

US                       6,549,475              195,239

Virginia               129,289                  2,697

Augusta County          398                         4

The number of cases in the US is still dropping but there were over 1,000 new deaths.  In Virginia, the number of cases is back to around 800 and there were 11 new deaths.

 

AstraZeneca was one of the companies in Phase 3 of vaccine testing.  But the news now is that they’ve had to suspend its Phase 3 testing because a woman who was given the vaccine developed some weird neurological issue.  The issue may or may not be related to the vaccine, it was reported.  Some in the medical field said this is actually good news because it shows that safety is coming first in the vaccine trials, not politics.

 

We both were up much later than usual this evening.  We even made a trip to Kroger in which we didn’t get back home until after 9:30. Usually we were in bed by then.  Lynn continues to do lots of craft work during her spare time though she doesn’t have much spare time thanks to all of the IEP meetings she is having via Zoom.

 

September 10, 2020

Today turned out to be more pleasant than forecast.  I thought it was going to be another rainy day especially since it rained a lot overnight but the day was actually very nice.

 

I spent four hours today at Central trying to learn more about QuickBooks and fix the errors that our new bookkeeper had made.  It took me a long time but I actually think I got the books in much better shape.  The reports now correctly show her salary—before since she started working the monthly reports showed her as being paid nothing although she was receiving checks twice each month.  And she had several other entries in the ledger coded incorrectly but I think all is well now.  I’m feeling much better about stepping in to do that kind of work if I need to in the future.  Like I’ve said before, I am not looking for another job but would like to be a backup for the person who sits in the bookkeeper’s seat.

 

That’s probably all I can attest to getting done of any value today—an easy, boring day.  I did meet Freddie’s bus in the afternoon along with Josh.  The four of us had a good chat on the pergola.

 

I also cooked some baked potatoes and grilled t-bone steaks for dinner.  Yum!  We really do eat well nowadays.

 

After dinner I drove Lynn into Staunton so she could visit with her Mom.  Unlike me, she had a very busy day again today, doing some IEP meetings plus some training with Albemarle County Schools, with whom she does the Migrant Ed tutoring of her student, Juan Pablo, at Waynesboro High School.  She also talked with Juan Pablo on the phone.  Sometime he won’t answer her calls but with school starting there are a few things he must do so Lynn stays on top of it.  His teachers will e-mail her if he isn’t getting his work done or is missing class.  Missing class nowadays means not signing into the online portal when the class is taught.

 

Jim commented last night that teaching virtually isn’t all that bad.  He says he doesn’t have any classroom management problems because he can always just mute a student who is making noise.  What a blessing it would be to have this option in an in-person classroom!

 

In a series of interviews with Bob Woodward, whose book Rage is being released very soon, Donald Trump acknowledged in February that coronavirus was much deadlier than the flu and that he deliberately downplayed the virus to the American public so as to not create panic.  This is a mighty flimsy excuse he’s come up with to defend how inept his initial response was to COVID-19.  Had he been honest with the American public, been more forceful from the beginning, maybe we wouldn’t be looking at 180,000+ American deaths now.  That’s not just what I believe, it’s what the Biden campaign is now arguing.  “He knew how dangerous it was, and while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose.  It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people,” Biden said.

 

Next week I’ve made arrangements to start working on the annual Central UMC audit.  This usually takes Sam Richardson and me at least two full days to get done.  Hopefully we won’t run into any headaches for the books from 2019.  This time next year we’ll be auditing the 2020 books and that may prove to be more of a job because there are likely other issues like the one I spent four hours working on today.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 10      Infected                   Died

World               28,288,753              912,659

US                       6,583,407              196,089

Virginia               130,525                  2,708

Augusta County          408                         4

Virginia’s total infections are up over 1,200 cases in one day.  The number of deaths in the US increased by 800.  Augusta County hasn’t had more deaths in a while but still has 20 hospitalizations.  Rockingham County and Harrisonburg have over 200.

 

ABC news reported that at least six teachers have died due to coronavirus since school opened this fall.  And yet Augusta County schools are still open for in-person classes…

 

September 11, 2020

This is the 19th year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy that took place in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  I remember being at Turner Ashby High School that day working in their library when we noticed the news on the tv screen.  It was certainly a very low period in American history.  An even lower period is what we’ve been going through since February of this year.

 

I’m still angry at our President for lying to the American people in February.  He knew, he knew that coronavirus was extremely dangerous and spread quickly through the air yet he told the American public things like it was a Democratic hoax, it wasn’t a serious disease any more than the flu, and that America had it all under control.  In February he said it would all be over soon.  Now here we are, over 180,000 Americans dead thanks to his inept and untruthful response.  There are over 11 million fewer jobs than when the pandemic hit.  Schools are a wreck.  Travel has ground to a halt.  And he still makes no apologies for his coverup; he just says he was trying to keep people from panicking.  They should have panicked.  They still should.

 

I do mourn the lives lost nineteen years ago.  But keep these statistics in mind:  the 9/11 tragedy was a one day event that cost America 3,000 lives.  COVID-19 is a six month nightmare which has already cost over sixty times the number of lives than 9/11.  And it is nowhere near its end.  The CDC says that by October 3 we may have as many as 217,000 dead.  Worldwide, we lose over 5,000 every day due to the virus.

 

Lynn and I returned to Costco during the senior hour this morning.  It wasn’t very crowded and we weren’t rushed so we had a chance to browse for a while.

 

I spent over an hour back at Central today working with QuickBooks.  I found two errors that Central’s bookkeeper made in July which cause errors in monthy reports for July and August. The errors are relatively minor and don’t affect bank balances but are related to the account to which checks were charged.  I had found several similar errors yesterday which were easy to fix.  The two today won’t be so easy—they have to do with a check was written with QuickBooks for each but it should have been a “payroll liability check” instead of a standard check.  I couldn’t figure out how to fix this while I was at the church today but when I got home I found a series of steps online that will enable this to be remedied.  I guess next week I’ll sit down with the bookkeeper and get this taken care of.  I’ll be there a good bit anyway since we’re doing the church audit several days during the week.  Once again I enjoyed learning more about QuickBooks.

 

This afternoon I did a one mile walk, the first I’ve done in several days.  I hope to make this a regular occasion over the next week.  The weather forecast for next week is good.

 

I also made a trip to the dump taking our trash and the Gutshall’s.  This gave me a chance to check on Betsy, Freddie, and Gus since they were home by themselves all day.  They were fine.

 

This evening I placed an online pickup order for Lowe’s for two items.  One was a package of cup hooks that I plan to use to hold the solar lights to the pergola.  The lights were ordered on Amazon and will be here next Wednesday.  I also ordered some Drano for our shower drain which sometimes needs some assistance.  After dinner we picked our order up.

 

Lowe’s has never had good customer service, in my opinion.  Sometimes when I’m in the store I can’t find anyone to help or answer my questions.  But I will say that their pickup service has been great.  I place an order online, drive there, call to let them know which space I’m parked in, and someone brings my order out to the car.  Today the young lady at one point came out and told me they were having trouble locating the Drano I had ordered but she, like me, had seen that supposedly they had nine of them in stock.  A few minutes later out she came with the item in her hand.  It is a good service.  We’ve had good experiences with Walmart and Kroger pickup, too.

 

Here are the statistics for today:

September 11      Infected                   Died

World               28,604,124              918,116

US                       6,627,706              197,223

Virginia               131,640                  2,711

Augusta County          414                         4

Another twelve hundred Americans lost their lives due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Another thousand Virginians became infected with it since yesterday.

 

There are a hundreds of thousands of people in the west told to evacuate due to the huge fires there.  There have been entire cities burned down and scores of deaths.  Three dozen fires are burning in Oregon with dozens of people missing.  Half a million, ten percent of the Oregon population, have been told to evacuate.  California has several mammoth fires, too, with many homes burned.  The air quality is awful in California, Oregon, and Washington.  Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco are blanketed in smoke and have the world’s worst air quality.  The California governor blames much of this fire damage on climate change which has left his state in such a tinder state.

 

Our non-empathetic President has said nothing about the devastation in the west due to the fires.  Why?  Because California is a strong Democratic state and he only cares for those who support him.  He is not a President for all of America.

 

On ABC news tonight, the CDC says children can easily transmit COVID-19 from school to home.  A recent CDC study verified this.  Dr. Fauci says it will be well into 2021 before we’re back to normal and have been protected by a vaccine.  He said he would be happy if a vaccine were 70-75% effective.  He again emphasized that being in a group indoors endangers everyone.

 

September 12, 2020

Today had a busy morning and an afternoon I’ve been looking forward to for months.  The busy morning included a trip to Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville for my favorite apple, Golden Delicious, followed by a stop at the Popcorn store in Harrisonburg for Lynn, then to get some tomatoes at our favorite market, Overlook Produce.  We then got some ice cream at Smiley’s and headed home before noon.

 

At noon, WVU’s football season opened against Eastern Kentucky at Morgantown.  The game was so unusual—no fans were allowed except for family.  Eastern Kentucky was not a tough opponent—they lost 59-0 last week against Marshall.  Thus, anything closer to that score would be proof that Marshall is as good as WVU, something that no Mountaineer would want to admit, true or not.  The final was 56-10 and was an easy win for the Mountaineers.  Eastern Kentucky was no match.  The next eight games will be much tougher since they are against Big 12 opponents.  Their next game is in two weeks at Oklahoma State.

 

During the second half of the football game I worked on editing my 2015 Favorite pictures.  As I mentioned three days ago, this project is time intensive but I like the results.  My downstairs computer now randomly chooses favorite pictures of mine to display from 2015 through 2020.  I guess I’ll work on 2014 next.

 

Lynn and I watched the women’s finals of the US Open this afternoon between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka.  Like the WVU football game, there were no fans to watch.  This is so strange!  The match went to three sets.  Osaka won 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

 

This report from ABC news doesn’t really come as a surprise but it worth restating:  As restaurants attempt to keep their kitchens open amid the pandemic, a new study has linked a possible increased risk of infection to dining out.  The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined close-contact exposures contributing to the spread of the virus, and it found that adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have reported eating at a restaurant within 14 days of infection compared with those who tested negative.  Interestingly, the research found that eating inside at a restaurant was more related to transmission of the disease than other activities such as shopping, gatherings in a home, using public transportation, or going to an office setting, salon, gym, or church or religious gathering.  Though prior to the pandemic Lynn and I frequently ate at restaurants, this research certainly gives us reason to continue to avoid that now.

 

North Dakota and South Dakota lead the country in new COVID-19 cases per capita over the last two weeks, ranking first and second respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.  As ABC news put it, the Republican governors of both states have eschewed mask requirements, tapping into a spirit of independence hewn from enduring the winters and storms of the Great Plains.  The South Dakota governor, Kristi Noem, has never been seen wearing one.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

September 12      Infected                   Died

World               28,896,556              923,385

US                       6,670,395              197,972

Virginia               132,940                  2,722

Augusta County          421                         4

The results are so predictable:  another 43,000 infections in the US in one day and 700 deaths.  Virginia has 1,300 new cases and 11 more deaths in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County has 21 people currently hospitalized.

 

And, here’s a story in the Staunton News Leader today about Augusta County Schools:

Augusta County now has a second positive case of COVID since the beginning of the school year.   Soon after confirming that there was a case at Wilson Memorial High School this week, Superintendent Eric Bond confirmed by email that there was also a case at Hugh K. Cassell Elementary School.

“A parent at Cassell Elementary School has reported their child’s diagnosis with COVID-19,” Bond wrote in an email. “The division has worked with the local health department to assist in contact tracing. This individual was not on school premises when the symptoms began and it is believed he/she contracted the virus within the community.”  Bond said that the Virginia Department of Health determined that, based on the timeline of the illness, there was no exposure in the classroom or at school.

It just keeps creeping closer and closer to us…  I remember early on when Augusta County had no cases.

 

September 13, 2020

This was a typical Sunday for me including playing the piano via Zoom for the CUMC Sunday School Class.  For Lynn, it was a superbly productive day.  She froze tomatoes, baked bread, made an apple cake, washed several loads of clothes, cut my hair, and helped her Mom with lunch.

 

I mentioned yesterday that I worked on editing my 2015 Favorite pictures.  I finished them and did the 2014 Favorites today.  I’ve now begun the 2013 ones.  It is so much fun for me to see these old pictures which remind me of where we’ve been to and how the kids looked when they were much younger.  I’m also reminded of how much more I used to weigh!

 

Lynn invited the Gutshalls over tonight because we’ve seen so little of them lately since school has started.  The apple cake she made was enjoyed by all of us.  It is always good to see and talk with them.

 

I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to a barber shop now that Lynn has been cutting my hair.  She does a fine job—as good as what I’ve gotten in a barber shop.  Currently, we do have to borrow the clipper set from the Gutshalls.  When we first looked, a few months ago in the height of the pandemic, they weren’t available on Amazon.  I just checked and put a set in our Amazon cart.  However, it does say that it will ship in 3-5 weeks.

 

I discovered something interesting today.  I looked in the driveway and saw that all of the windows in my Honda Civic were rolled down.  I did not do this.  This happened one other day.  Perplexed, I looked online and found the answer.  Honda made their key fobs with the ability to do this.  If I click on the unlock key twice quickly then hold it down with the third click, the windows roll themselves down.  Apparently I had accidentally done this today and previously.  At least the mystery is solved.  I’m not sure I like this option because if I were to accidentally do this on a rainy or snowy day my car’s interior could be messed up.

 

I’m a little concerned about Lynn’s foot.  This Tuesday will be seven weeks since she broke it.  She still keeps her foot in a boot and reports pain sometimes in the evenings.  She has tried to go a little while without the boot, as directed by her doctor, for the past week but every time she does her foot hurts.  I was hoping that she’d be back to walking a little by now.

 

Without her, I’ve walked very little in the past six and a half weeks.  What’s disappointing is that the weather is starting to be ideal for walking.  This week, for example, there is no rain in the forecast, low humidity, and highs in the 70’s each day.  Today I walked a little over two miles by myself but it just isn’t as much fun as when she walked with me.  We didn’t even talk all the time when we walked but still it is more fun to do it in her company.  Maybe I’m just making an excuse for being lazy now…

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 13      Infected                   Died

World               29,254,001              927,696

US                       6,706,219              198,470

Virginia               133,814                  2,724

Augusta County          423                         4

The US totals are lower than usual.  Virginia still showed 900 new cases.

 

Nearly 5,000,000 acres have now burned in California, Oregon, and Washington.  There are 25 confirmed dead from the fires and there are dozens still missing.  The flames have incincerated at least six entire towns in Oregon.  Actually there are at least 100 different fires burning in ten different states.  From our local church, two of the young members, Brent and Marina Foltz, who are foresters have been sent to the west to help fight the fires.

 

ABC news reported that Pfizer says their vaccine could be ready by the end of the year.  Trump says the US is “rounding the final turn” in fighting the virus but Dr. Fauci disputes that.  Most Americans are skeptical of President Donald Trump’s performance on the coronavirus pandemic — disapproving of his response, disbelieving of his rhetoric on the virus and critical of what they view as his lagging approach to containing it, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday finds.  Trump’s approval for his handling of COVID-19 lands at 35% in the new survey, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, compared to 65% who disapprove. This marks the fourth straight poll with Trump’s COVID response approval hovering in the low-to-mid 30s since early July.

 

September 14, 2020

I spent the entire morning working on my Favorite picture project and finished it.  I discovered that in 2012 I had created a favorite picture folder then so I didn’t have to go back beyond 2013.  I did add some photos including some from the photos I converted in 2019 from old slides to digital, pictures from Jim’s and Kay’s rehearsal dinners that I had scanned of their childhood, and a collection I had of pictures of Lynn and me.  I ended up with 6,592 favorite pictures!  They are all neatly organized now and stored on multiple storage devices including my laptop, downstairs iMac, and external hard drive.  These pictures are one of my greatest possessions because they represent what a good life I’ve had with photos of family and destinations.   I’ll probably keep working on this project, fixing red-eye issues with some of my older photos and removing those pictures which aren’t clear.  All in all I think the result is in pretty good shape and I’m happy with it.

 

My end result is one huge folder called Favorite Pictures.  Inside that folder are these separate folders:  2020 Favorites, 2019 Favorites, 2018 Favorites, 2017 Favorites, 2016 Favorites, 2015 Favorites, 2014 Favorites, 2013 Favorites, 2012 Favorites, 1999 – 2011 Favorites, 1974 – 1980 Favorites, Jim’s Childhood, and Kay’s Childhood.  I know I spent nearly an hour today just watching my screen saver randomly display pictures from these folders.  I do love my pictures…

 

Today was Georgia’s 8th birthday.  We did a Facetime call in the evening with her.  We’ll do our best to go to her birthday party when we know when and where it will be.

 

I had a special Central Zoom meeting called for 7:00 this evening.  It had to do with allowing groups who formerly used our church for their activities plus responding to requests for some other groups to begin using it.  The major question was whether they can immediately resume using the building or should they wait until the morning worship services are scheduled to begin which is currently set for October 4.

 

I walked a little today, about a mile, up and back to Mount Pisgah UMC.    I also weighed this morning and found that I have picked up a couple of pounds.  Lynn went without her boot on her broken foot for a while today but it will still be a long while before we’re able to walk together.

 

Today’s statistics:

September 14      Infected                   Died

World               29,476,635              933,449

US                       6,749,406              199,018

Virginia               134,571                  2,743

Augusta County          429                         4

 

September 15, 2020

Today’s blog may not be very long because basically I spent most of the day working on Central UMC’s finances.  This includes working with Sam Richardson on the annual church audit for 2018 from 9:00 – 12:30, working with Maddie (CUMC Bookkeeper) fixing errors she had made in July in QuickBooks and changing her payroll setup from 12:30 – 2:00, and working at home on the audit again from 6:30 – 8:30.

 

The audit is not a simple process.  Sam and I have done this for many years and it always takes us days to get it done.  Central has money in three banking institutions:  City National where it has three checking accounts that have to be reconciled; First Bank where it has a large endowment which is used for mission funds, large maintenance jobs, and other general funds as necessary; and with Charles Schwab where we have two different investment accounts that are used for the Pastor’s housing allowance and for providing extra money for our apportionments.  In addition, there are two other sources of revenue from former members who left money in an account which pays its interest and dividends to us quarterly.  There are money market funds, United Methodist Women, and United Methodist Men all of which have financial records to be checked.

 

Today, we got January through June checked for all of the above except for the UMM and UMW accounts.  Those two accounts are very easy to audit and will probably take less than a half hour totaled.  But the other accounts each have their own quirks which make the process slow and tedious.

 

To be honest, what we really check with each account is that the bookkeeper and financial institution agree to the penny with all balances at the end of each month.  We also make sure that the numbers which are reported to the congregation by the bookkeeper are accurate.  Keep in mind that the bookkeeper can’t just report what the bank says we have because there might be outstanding checks or credits which aren’t on the bank statement.  So Sam and I check all this and summarize everything in a report for the entire year.

 

A true audit would go further.  It would look at the expenses, for example, to make sure all were appropriate and documented.  We do this kind of detail for the deposits but not for the expenses.  A true audit would check documentation for checks written and make sure that the church’s money is always spent wisely.  This is just too big a job for two old people like Sam and me.  I do not believe that Central’s income or disbursements are tainted in any way by fraud.

 

The only other thing I got done today was to install the solar lights we bought for the pergola.  We bought a string of lights containing 15 bulbs which are powered by a solar collector and connected by a 48 foot long cord.  I used metal cup holders to string the lights around the pergola’s braces at its top.  That way the lights can be easily removed in the winter.  The lights are mostly ornamental; they do not provide enough light to read by, for example, but they do keep those who are swinging from being in the pitch dark.  However, if we want pitch dark there is an on/off switch that can be flipped.

 

Lynn and I have discovered two very cheap ways to purchase prepared food.  For the three previous nights, our main meat course has been chicken.  All three nights’ supply of chicken came from the purchase of a single broiled chicken at Costco for $5.49.  Tonight we picked up our dinner from Cracker Barrel.  We both like their country ham meals.  We each get two country ham biscuits.  She gets a hash brown casserole and I get fried apples.  We also asked for three extra biscuits with jelly.  The total cost for this dinner for both of us was approximately $10.00.

 

Lynn had more IEP meeting interpreting today and is scheduled to do another one tomorrow.  Without her help, these meeting would not be taking place.  She does them all virtually so they’re easy for her to “attend.”  As I’ve said before, she is amazing in converting the English conversations and documents to/from Spanish, all on the fly.

 

COVID-19 is inching closer to us, I’m afraid.  Today Ann called us before Freddie got here on the bus and told us to be sure to keep him outside when he arrived.  It turns out that his elementary school, Clymore Elementary, has now had its first positive case.  All the parents were called, I understand, and she was told that Freddie was not in contact with the infected person.  Augusta County has had cases in four or five schools now.  I wonder how long it will be until the schools revert to 100% virtual….  I don’t know the answer to that but I’ll simply add that I hope they do before I get coronavirus.

 

On the one hand, it feels like the virus is stalking us, getting closer all the time.  On the other hand, if, indeed, our grandchildren aren’t within 10 feet of an infected person then they are as safe as if they weren’t within 10 miles of him, I suppose.  They’ve been within 10 miles of hundreds of infections lately, I’m sure.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

September 15      Infected                   Died

World               29,715,502              938,406

US                       6,787,737              200,178

Virginia               135,514                  2,839

Augusta County          437                         7

The local death numbers are frighteningly higher.  Virginia’s death total in one day increased by 96.  The Augusta County death total had been at 4 since July 28.  Today it jumped to 7.  The Virginia Department of Health had this announcement on its website today: “Regarding the death data for Tuesday, September 15, 2020, there is an existing data backlog.  VDH is working diligently to identify COVID-19 related deaths using vital record death certificate information.”  What do they mean?  Are there really more fatalities??

 

ABC news had this story on its website today: “An August 7 wedding and reception in Maine’s Millinocket region has been connected to 176 coronavirus cases, according to the state.  Seven coronavirus-related deaths have been linked to the wedding, according to Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. None of those seven people attended the wedding, Maine’s CDC said.”  The way I read this is that a wedding was held with little or no regard to coronavirus safety.  The attendees then returned to their homes and spread COVID-19 to 176 people, 7 of whom have now died.  We’ve seen this repeated in so many similar ways:   a choir practice in Washington, a funeral in Georgia, and now a wedding in Maine.  What if the next scenario is a classroom in Virginia….

 

Tonight on ABC Trump held a town meeting with so-called undecided voters.  Really?  Is there anyone in America who hasn’t decided who he will vote for by now?

 

So much for this blog being shorter than I expected…

 

September 16, 2020

Our stupid President said during last night’s town hall meeting that coronavirus would just “go away.”  He contradicted himself saying he didn’t downplay the pandemic even after he was heard on tape telling Bob Woodward that he did exactly that.  He showed his ignorance by saying America would develop “herd mentality” without a vaccine when the correct term is “herd immunity” even though this won’t happen unless a majority of Americans are vaccinated.  Yet he is the one who calls Biden mentally incompetent.  How can anyone, ANYONE support this man?  I have no understanding whatsoever how a clear thinking adult can vote for him to return as President.  Those who did so the first time can be forgiven but I’ll have much more trouble with forgiveness the second time.  I know that’s not the Christian attitude but I am hoping we’ll get a much more Christian-like man in the office.

 

Sam and I worked from 8:30 until 1:30 but we got 99% of the audit behind us.  My work late last night helped make the morning go faster.  All we have left to do is to audit the United Methodist Women’s checking account which will only take a few minutes.  Sam and I are scheduled to do the weekly count this coming Monday so we’ll just finish the audit after we do the count.  I’m glad to have this behind us.

 

When I got home I cut our grass.  I can’t get over how often I’ve had to do that this year.  We have little to no rain forecast for the next week so maybe it will slow down now.  I hope so.

 

President Trump contradicted the CDC director Robert Redfield today.  Redfield said most Americans won’t get a vaccine until well into 2021.  Trump said he was planning on shipping doses in October.  Redfield said that it will not be generally available to the public until mid-2021.  Trump said he made a mistake when he said that and called Redfield confused.

 

In the town hall last night, Trump said some Americans don’t want to wear masks.  The CDC director said that they were the most important tool we have.  He said that it is more guaranteed to protect him than a vaccine.  Trump again said Redfield is wrong.  This is his own CDC director that he contradicted twice today.

 

ABC news had an online article entitled “Wall Street does not represent Main Street.”  In the town hall meeting, Trump showed that he is pathetically ignorant about most Americans’ finances.  Here’s what he said: “Stocks are owned by everybody,” he said. “I mean, you know, they talk about the stock market is so good. That’s 401(k)s.”  Trump claimed the benefits of the stock market directly benefit everyone, when in fact the vast majority of stocks are owned by the rich. The wealthiest top 10% of American households own over 80% of stocks, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, and almost half of U.S. households don’t own any stock at all, including 401(k)s, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances. The unemployment rate skyrocketed from around 3% pre-pandemic to nearly 15% in April. It now sits at 8.4%, meaning more than half of the Americans who lost their jobs are still out of work. Consumer confidence is also down — a measure that show Main Street is struggling even if Wall Street is staying afloat.  Trump only cares about Wall Street, not the American public.  How can the rest of the population not see this?

 

Here are today’s statistics:

September 16      Infected                   Died

World               29,996,527              944,148

US                       6,824,089              201,231

Virginia               136,359                  2,884

Augusta County          443                         7

We’re back to same old, same old.  Over a thousand more deaths in the US in just one day.  Another 800 cases in Virginia.  Forty five more deaths in Virginia.

 

The wildfires in the west continue to ravage homes and businesses.  Entire cities have been burned.  The air quality there is awful.  Skies all the way to the east coast have a haze to them from the fires.

 

Tonight was Zoom night.  Kay joined in as did Jim.  Faron, Coen, Thomas, and Georgia had cameo appearances.  It was a good, though short, call.

 

September 17, 2020

It seems like every day I have more news to report about Trump’s stupidity and poor performance as our nation’s President.  Today is no exception.  In a news conference yesterday he blamed the Democratic states for the COVID-19 high numbers.  “So we’re down in this territory,” Trump said, pointing to a graph that the White House first unveiled in the spring which showed two estimated ranges of possible death tolls depending on efforts to slow the spread of the virus. “And that’s despite the fact that the blue states had had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level. But some of the states, they were blue states and blue state-managed.”

 

The only bit of truth to this comment is that initially New York and New Jersey, both democratically controlled states, had the highest coronavirus cases and deaths.  And California, another blue state, now has high numbers.  But how about Texas and Florida, both red states?   The Washington Post jumped on this.  In an article today, the Post said “It is true that the early surge in deaths was heavily weighted toward states that had voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. New York and New Jersey in particular recorded hundreds of deaths a day in April, quickly contributing to the country’s total number of fatalities.  Over time, though, the percentage of total deaths that have occurred in blue states has dropped. The most recent data, through Tuesday, indicates that about 53 percent of deaths have occurred in blue states — meaning that 47 percent have occurred in red ones.”  The article goes on to say “In other words, more than 90,000 deaths have occurred in red states. If that were the country’s total, we would have seen the second-most number of deaths globally, trailing only Brazil. The United States would still be responsible for 11 percent of global deaths, despite constituting only about 4 percent of the world’s population.

Why has the ratio of blue-state to red-state deaths shifted? Because most of the newly occurring deaths are happening in red states. Since mid-June, a majority of the new coronavirus deaths each day have occurred in red states. Since mid-July at least 70 percent have.”

 

So the death rate is now rapidly declining in blue states and rising in red states.  Is anyone surprised by this?  Trump has rallies with thousands of people in attendance with no social distancing, no masks.  The example he sets is as a COVID-19 super spreader.   Republican governors have a hands-off attitude regarding requiring masks.

 

Trump is always trying to find a Democrat to blame for his own failures.  Sometimes it’s Barack Obama, sometimes it’s Joe Biden, sometimes it’s Nancy Pelosi, sometimes it’s Chuck Shumer, sometimes it’s the Democratic governors, and sometimes it is groups which have high percentages of Democrats such as the Black Lives Matter people.  His own family turns against him.  Many former Republican politicians now endorse Biden.  Why, oh why, do people still support this maniacal, self-absorbed, rude, intolerant, lying, egotistical, unsympathetic, uncaring, racist, narcissist, bullyish, arrogant, incompetent, unqualified, elitist man?  He is, without a doubt, the worst politician at any level I have known in my lifetime.  He is the antithesis of what a President should be.

 

Joe Biden had a comment today I fully agree with: “I trust vaccines.  I trust scientists.  But I do not trust Donald Trump.”

 

ABC news tonight had more about the dispute between Trump and CDC Director Robert Redfield.  Trump is claiming the vaccine will be available before the election and readily available then.  As I said yesterday, Trump said Redfield was “confused.”  The top medical experts backed Redfield.  Dr. Fauci said the general population won’t get the vaccine until the middle of 2021.  This is also what the head of Trump’s own “Operation Warp Speed” said—middle of 2021.  ABC said that of the eight companies working on a vaccine, just three are in the final stages of trials.  Only one, Pfizer, says it may know next month if its vaccine is safe and effective or not.  I’ve been saying that the pharmaceutical people are not the ones to trust because they are definitely in Trump’s camp.  They don’t want anyone with any sort of affection for universal health care to be in office because it would erode some of their monumental personal profits.

 

ABC also reports that a poll from the Pugh Research Center said that only 51% would take a vaccine if it were released now.  In May this figure was 72%.  Those who changed their mind say their fear that the vaccine would be rushed through the approval process for political reasons.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 17      Infected                   Died

World               30,310,507              949,702

US                       6,868,530              202,112

Virginia               137,460                  2,920

Augusta County          452                         7

Another 900 more deaths in the US and 1,000 more cases in Virginia.  36 new deaths in Virginia.  ABC news tonight said that Europe is seeing a resurgence in cases; many countries have put into effect more stringent quarantine requirements.  There were over 5,000 deaths in the world in the past 24 hours due to COVID-19.

 

Yes, I have gotten some things done today in addition to watching the news about COVID-19 and ranting about Trump.  I’ve got the church audit ready to be printed and shared as soon as we go through the UMW checkbook.  I’ve almost finished Central’s budget for 2021.  All of these things have to be done before our annual Charge Conference which is scheduled on September 29.  That’s why Pastor Won is urging all of us involved with it to complete our reports as soon as possible.

 

I also did some standard computer work today such as making a Time Machine backup of my new laptop and synching my iPhone with a reduced song list on it to free up some room on it.  My iPhone only has 16 GB of storage so I fill it up easily.  I also helped Lynn submit an application to the Greenbrier “Dream Tree for Kids” program which provides Christmas presents to children in poverty.  She submitted a last minute application on behalf of Central UMC.  Sometime in December we’ll go to the Greenbrier to help wrap presents with this program as we’ve done for many years.

 

Finally, after dinner, Lynn and I went to the Walgreen’s pharmacy in Verona and got our flu shots.  This is earlier than we usually do but we’ve read a lot about the special need to get this vaccination this year because no one wants to get both the flu and coronavirus.  We celebrated getting our vaccine by going to Smiley’s for ice cream!

 

We were scheduled to have more neighborhood friends over tonight to visit in our pergola, Dave and Teri Grembi.  However, it rained from early afternoon on so their visit was postponed until tomorrow night.

 

Lynn is trying to go without her foot brace now.  She reports some pain but is definitely getting around better.  I sure hope she’s well on her way back to normal.  I look forward to walking with her again.

 

September 18, 2020

I’m surprised at how busy I was today when the calendar had zero items on it for me today.  I decided early on to go to the Greenville dump and take the metal barrel that has been in our back yard for at least twenty years.  It had a little fuel oil in it from the occasion we had years and years ago to replace our in-ground tank.  I thought I was going to have to wait until Augusta County has one of those special hazardous waste days to take it.  Ironically, that day is tomorrow and since I’m going to Roanoke to get Jim’s lawn mower I couldn’t take it to the Government Center then.  So I called the Service Authority and was told I could bring it to the Greenville dump, pour the fuel oil in a canister they have to gather used oil, then drop the barrel in the metal recycling location there.  I also loaded up a broken down kid’s bike and some old lawnmower batteries.  By 9:15 I had deposited everything where it was supposed to go at the dump—a very successful trip.

 

I went from there to Central UMC.  I had noticed some things on a report the bookkeeper had done for August that weren’t right and I wanted to fix them myself.  She doesn’t work on Fridays so I knew I’d have the treasurer’s computer to myself.  It took me a couple of hours but I got it done (except for a misplaced 10¢ that I just couldn’t locate).  I sent her a note that I wanted to go over some of what I’d done on Monday morning when Sam Richardson and I are there for the weekly count and to complete our audit.

 

When I got home in the afternoon I did a few chores Lynn wanted me to do including planting some bushes that the Myers had brought to us this morning.  Then I decided to get my trailer attached to the truck so it would be ready to head out early tomorrow morning.

 

A problem showed up…the lights didn’t work on the trailer.  I had used it about a month ago and it all worked fine then but today I couldn’t get the trailer lights to come on.  This bothered me because I wanted it to be working well for my trip down I-81 tomorrow morning.  So I hopped in and headed to Staunton to the Leonard USA place where I had originally bought the trailer.  They’ve done other work on it in the past.  Today was a very interesting experience:

 

When I got there, it was obviously open but I had trouble finding anyone working.  Finally one man came out and I explained my issue to him.  He stopped whatever he was doing and walked out to the garage section of their property and got some electrical tools.  In the meantime, other customers drove up and he had to leave me waiting to go wait on them.  I quickly figured out that he was the only person working at Leonard today.  After he came back to my truck, perhaps fifteen minutes later, he used his equipment to first determine if the fault was somewhere within the trailer itself.  No, the lights worked fine when he connected them to a battery source.  He wondered if the truck had a blown fuse so we then located the fuses associated with the trailer connection on my Toyota Tacoma but all of the fuses checked out OK.  I had suspected that the problem was the harness that connects the trailer to the truck.  It is a removable part about 6” long.  He went back inside his store, brought out a new one but it worked only sporadically—for example, only one side of the trailer’s lights came on.  He went back inside (a pretty good walk from where my truck was) and came back with a second candidate.  Same problem.  He must have spent 45 minutes diagnosing the issue and finally told me that for sure the problem was in that harness but his replacements must be bad.  He said I should just take the trailer to Auto Zone and buy a replacement one there.  I asked him how much I owed him for his time and effort.  He said nothing.  I mildly objected but decided to take his advice.

 

I drove to Auto Zone.  The person working there found the replacement part for me instantly.  It cost only $10.  I went back to the truck, connected the truck and trailer with this replacement harness, and my lights all came on.  Sure enough, the Leonard employee’s diagnosis was spot on.  Rather than drive home, I drove back to Leonard, showed him that everything was working fine, and this time I insisted that he take $20 in cash for his help.  I felt like I had done the right thing because he is the one who solved my problem.  He still hesitated to take it but this time I insisted and he did.  I feel like it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a while.

 

Early voting started in Virginia today.  Lynn and I are definitely going to vote early—perhaps next week.  Our plan is to vote then go to Smiley’s to celebrate.  Sounds like a good thing to do.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 18      Infected                   Died

World               30,608,969              954,271

US                       6,914,405              203,013

Virginia               138,702                  2,949

Augusta County          454                         7

A note on the Virginia Department of Health website says “VDH is working diligently to identify COVID-19 related deaths through vital record death certificate information. A backlog of death data is expected to be added from September 15 through September 21.”  In the past 24 hours, Virginia has added over 1,200 new cases and 29 more deaths.  Can you believe that the world now has over 30 million cases?  Another 5,000 new deaths were recorded yesterday world-wide.  The US had 50,000 more cases and 1,000 more deaths.

 

Augusta County Schools has confirmed that the case at Clymore Elementary had to do with an employee.  This is from WHSV news: “In a letter to parents on Thursday, Augusta County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Bond confirmed a staff member at Clymore Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19.  The letter states it is believed the individual contracted the virus within the community.  Bond said the local health department determined there was limited exposure to students and their families have been contacted. He also stated that the areas the COVID-19 positive individual occupied in the school have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.”  I certainly hope Freddie was not near any of these areas.

 

This afternoon Lynn had to help her mother with dinner.  We ate a hasty dinner of toasted cheese sandwiches featuring her freshly baked bread and fresh tomatoes.  Then we got ready for company as Dave and Teri Grembi came over to chat in our pergola.

 

We just got the news tonight that Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died.  This is so sad.  She was a marvelous influence on the Supreme Court and America in general.

 

In February of 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died.  One month later, in March, President Obama nominated Merritt Garland to fill the vacancy.  Republican senate leaders, most notably Mitch McConnell, said that they would not approve of any nomination prior to the election since 2016 was an election year.  Here’s exactly what McConnell said:  “The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.” Do you think he’ll say the same thing now, especially since this is seven months later than Obama’s nomination?  Fat chance.  He’ll try to railroad a Republican judge through in record time.  He’s got no interest in letting the American people have their say.  I’m going to be more than furious if this happens.

 

More bad news tonight.  Virginia had its first case of a teenager dying from coronavirus.  The details are sketchy but it appears that the teenager lived in the southside area, south of Roanoke, perhaps in the Brunswick area.

 

September 19, 2020

Today turned out to be one of the best days we’ve had in ages.  All three of our kids were home today.  Jim came up to help cut my grass, see his sisters, and visit his grandmother.  Kay brought Georgia and Thomas.  The two of them went with Lynn to visit Lynn’s Mom who was doing fairly well today.  Ann sent flowers.

 

While they visited with Mrs. Hanger, I had Thomas and Georgia here.  Thomas had a zoom Tae Kwon Do class meeting.  Georgia and I chatted.  She is such a fluent and well spoken eight-year-old!

 

Afterwards, all of us headed to Mt. Crawford where we met Ann and family at the Overlook Farms corn maze.  The corn maze turned out to be a great event—all twelve of us did it and had a great time.  The weather was sunny though cool.  Afterwards, we all went to Smiley’s for ice cream, then to Overlook Produce to buy some vegetables.  Then all of us came back here where the adults sat on the pergola and chatted while the kids had a great time playing in the back yard.

 

It was a great afternoon.  Everyone got along well and had a good time.  We concluded with take-out dinner from Chicano Boy though Kay and her kids had gone back home by then.

 

I signed an online petition today to demand that the next Supreme Court justice be chosen by the newly elected President.  Hundreds of thousands of people signed that today.  I seriously doubt that it will have any influence whatsoever on such worthless individuals as Mitch McConnell but it was the least I could do.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 19      Infected                   Died

World               30,975,747              960,863

US                       6,967,389              203,824

Virginia               139,655                  2,990

Augusta County          460                         7

Yikes, another 41 new deaths in Virginia in the past 24 hours.  The site says it is trying to get caught up on this data but the numbers are still frightening.

 

Just when everything seemed to be going great today, I got a notice from Pastor Won that he wouldn’t have his sermon on YouTube in time for tomorrow morning but that he hoped to have it done by Monday.  I decided to update our church’s website with this information.  When I did so, I saw that there were three “plug-ins” on WordPress that needed to be updated.  Usually all I have to do is to click the update button and everything is fine.  But tonight when I did that the website suddenly was messed up.  All you got when you tried to access the church’s website was this ugly message that said “Parse error:  syntax error etc.”  Worse yet, I couldn’t get back in to WordPress to edit anything.  I called GoDaddy, which hosts the site.  I was on hold for about 45 minutes before I talked to a person.  That person tried to help but could get no further than I did, so I got passed to a second person.  After another lengthy hold on the phone, tech support person Michael answered and took care of our messed up website.  I am SO thankful!  Plus he gave me good advice on making a local backup of the site and switching to a different hosting service at GoDaddy which would have prevented this error from having occurred.  I can go to sleep now—before Michael I was too worried to.

 

September 20, 2020

Exactly five months ago I began this blog, writing that I was like a baseball writer covering a ball game starting after the game had begun but noting that I didn’t know which inning we were in.  I think we’re now in one of the middle innings.  Vaccines are being talked about more and more but none is out yet though rumbles exist of one or more coming soon.  The game is still being fiercely contested and perhaps our side trying to take the lead from COVID-19 team despite the many hits and runs scored by the opposition.  Our team has been plagued by lots of errors.

 

The news today is full of stories about the fallout about the next Supreme Court justice’s appointment to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  It’s a shame that instead of celebrating this lady’s wonderful life and legacy the rhetoric is now all about her successor.

 

Here’s the textbook definition of hypocrisy:  the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.  Many Republican senators preached in 2016 that we should “Let the people decide…wait until after the election to nominate the Supreme Court justice” and promised “we will not approve a nomination during an election year.”  Indeed, they did not even allow Obama’s nominee Merritt Garland’s to even get a hearing for eight months prior to the 2016 election.  Now those same senators have in mind to railroad through a Trump nominee in near record time just to beat the November 3 election.  Hypocrisy, pure and simple.

 

Of course, I personally cannot prevent this from happening.  But I will do whatever I can to help, whether it is the donation of some money or protesting in public.

 

One CNN reporter today commented about how this situation has magnified the divisiveness in America.  Indeed, we’re becoming more than a two party system; we’re becoming a two sided war.  This is sad.

 

Today I reflected about some of the people I have known in my past besides family members.  In particular, I thought a lot about the Rockingham County Public Schools technology staff that I led.  I hired every one of them.  They were quite diverse.  Many had habits or lives outside of work that I would never have.  One was a chain smoker.  Several loved to gather one night each week at a local pub to drink beer.  Two were avid motorcycle riders.  One was a Seventh Day Adventist.  One spoke very poor English when she was hired.  One was the son of a local mega-millionaire.  Each had his/her peculiarities.  However, all were good human beings.  All were good workers, good hearted-people.  Our bond was that we had a common goal to provide the best technology service we could provide for staff and students.  It didn’t matter that we were different people.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he had a dream that a person would be judged by his character, not the color of his skin.  I think that the same can be generalized to say that a person should be judged by his/her character regardless of what other circumstances there might be.  My tech staff is a good example.  They were good people regardless of the differences we had.

 

So here’s my point.  So many people are treating this election as a one-issue election.  For example, if you’re against abortion, then you’re voting for Trump.  If you own a lot of stocks and bonds, you’re voting for Trump.  I believe every voter should look at the character of each candidate, the full spectrum of what each person stands for.  If this is done, how on earth can anyone, ANYONE choose Trump?  He stands for hypocrisy, dishonesty, white supremacy, arrogance, … sorry, I shouldn’t get started on these descriptors again.

 

Governor Northram says that the COVID-19 positivity rate has been decreasing in the state.  He said, as I’ve been reporting here, that there are 1,000 new cases each day statewide and testing has a 6.8% positivity rate.  Southwest Virginia is somewhat of a hotbed with a 8.1% positivity rate.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

September 20      Infected                   Died

World               31,219,214              964,735

US                       7,000,896              204,115

Virginia               140,511                  3,015

Augusta County          462                         7

Tonight was Covenant Group night at our house.  We had eight at our pergola:  Tom and Connie Davis, John Myers, Bill and Martha Bushman, John Bauman, Lynn, and me.  It was a chilly night for us to meet but we bundled up and started earlier than usual, 6:00.  We’ve been discussing Francis Collins’ book, The Language of God.  Bill and Martha were high school classmates of Francis Collins at R. E. Lee High School in Staunton.

 

September 21, 2020

Brrrr, the weather is much colder now, unseasonably cold.  Some places in the area had frost this morning.  We were in the high 30’s.  We’ve made good use of our fireplace propane insert to heat up the kitchen.  The forecast for the week is for warming temperatures, thankfully, and no rain.

 

Today was a Central UMC counting day for me.  Sam and I made the bank deposit for Central and finished our audit of the church’s finances.  I had hoped to then spend time working with the bookkeeper Maddie but she had called in sick.  So I helped the custodian with am e-mail issue, finished up some work I needed to do on the Central budget, submitted the report I was required to submit for Central’s finances, and came home.

 

I got home just in time to grab a bite of lunch and return to Central, this time in my truck.  First I stopped at the Food Bank in Verona and loaded up 838 pounds of food for our Food Pantry.  At Central there were plenty of people waiting to help unload it.  I  was back home before 2:00.

 

Lynn and I then went to the Government Center and voted.  The actual election is still over 40 days away but we wanted to make sure our votes counted no matter what may happen between now and then.  Plus, by voting now we thought it would be safer from coronavirus.  Actually there was a line of about ten people ahead of us but the process went smoothly and quickly.  I’m proud to possess a sticker that says “I Voted.”  I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people in line to vote.  Yes, this is rural Virginia so many of them probably didn’t vote the way I wanted them to but at least they took part.  We’ll see how things come out November 3.  Actually, we may not know the final result of the election until a few days afterwards.

 

I then dropped Lynn off at The Legacy to see her Mom while I waited in the parking lot.  When she had finished we went to Aldi’s to buy a few groceries.  Aldi’s is one of the safer stores around here regarding mask wearing.

 

Here’s an interesting article from ABC news:  As President Donald Trump continues to tout the progress of the coronavirus vaccine development, going so far this week as to promise delivery to everyone in the U.S. by the spring, a majority of Americans report having no confidence at all in him to confirm the safety of a potential inoculation, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday. Fewer than 1 in 10 — 9% — Americans have a great deal of confidence in Trump to confirm the vaccine’s effectiveness, with another 18% reporting only a “good amount” of confidence. In contrast, 69% don’t have confidence in the president vouching for a vaccine, with 16% saying “not so much” and 53% saying “none at all.”

 

Also on ABC news:  President Donald Trump on Monday gave himself an “A+” grade on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he and his administration had done a “phenomenal job” even as the death toll neared 200,000 Americans. Once again, he bucked all the experts by ambiguously promising “you’ll have” a vaccine “long before the end of the year, maybe, maybe by the end of October.”  In reality, the only thing public health officials and experts have said could possibly happen by the end of October — under a best-case scenario — would be one or more pharmaceutical companies obtaining enough data from ongoing vaccine trials for regulators at the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate whether the vaccine was safe and effective. If they approve its use, only then could a vaccine start to be rolled out to Americans on a limited basis.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

September 21      Infected                   Died

World               31,471,337              968,905

US                       7,046,135              204,506

Virginia               141,138                  3,021

Augusta County          469                         7

 

September 22, 2020

Today we made an early morning run to Costco to get some items for ourselves and for Lynn’s friend Cheryl Wright.  We shopped during the senior hour, 9:00 – 10:00.

 

The Republicans say they have enough Senators on board to approve Trump’s nominee prior to the election.  If they do, I say that Democrats should not forget this and make them pay big when the tables are turned, perhaps after the election.  Indeed, it is possible that after November 3 the House, Senate, and Presidency will all be Democratically controlled.  If this happens, let the paybacks begin.  Nancy Pelosi says she has “lots of arrows in her quiver” though she hasn’t said exactly what’s there.  I’m sure there will be many ways of extracting revenge.  How unfortunate!  This could all have been avoided if the Republicans would just stick to the exact words they uttered in 2016.

 

From ABC news this morning:  An internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows that the number of new cases and the number of new deaths recorded in the United States are both increasing in week-over-week comparisons. Twenty-three U.S. states and territories are in an upward trajectory of COVID-19 infections, while 14 jurisdictions are at plateau and 19 others are in a downward trend, the memo said. There were 283,332 new cases confirmed across the nation during the period of Sept 14-20, a 17.2% jump from the previous week. Meanwhile, 5,319 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded during that same period, a 2.4% increase compared with the seven days prior, according to the memo.

 

Isn’t it amazing that it is not a big news item that our President has lied to the public?  He does this so often that we have become used to it and it becomes a non-news item.  Yesterday he falsely claimed at a Monday night campaign rally that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody” below the age of 18 and is mainly a risk to elderly people with heart problems and other preexisting conditions.   ABC news reported that in Florida’s Alachua County, 90% of recently reported cases are among individuals between the ages of 15 and 25, and 70% of those cases are college students, according to the memo.  Trump should tell his lies to the family in southern Virginia where a teenager died last week from COVID-19 or to the family of the California PA College football player who died after contracting it.  Pennsylvania’s Centre County, home to Pennsylvania State University, remains a COVID-19 hotspot, reporting a 291.3% relative increase in new cases during the period of Sept. 9-15 compared with the previous week. The county’s hospitals are under strain, with inpatient beds at 88% capacity and intensive care unit beds at 81% capacity, the memo said.  But wait, how could those hospital beds be filling up when it affects no young people?  We have a buffoon for a President.  How many ways can I say this?

 

Later today ABC amplified the previous story with this data:  Since March, evidence has been building that young people aren’t as impervious to coronavirus as initially thought. According to the CDC Covid Data tracker, a recent analysis of 143,273 deaths revealed that 843, about 0.6%, occurred in people younger than 30, while 88, about 0.06%, occurred in people younger than 18.

 

Johns Hopkins now says more than 200,000 Americans have died due to coronavirus.  The source I use, worldometers.info, has the American count at over 205,000.  Either way, that’s way too many.

 

I wrote about our Covenant Group was reading Francis Collins’ book on Sunday night and commented how he was well known to some of our group.  Now he is head of the NIH and today had this quote: “We ought to all look at the evidence and then make an individual decision to live up to that, because that’s our best hope. Until that vaccine is in hand, and lots of people have been able to receive it, we’ve got many more months yet with lives at risk. And the best way to save them is for us all to take this on our own shoulders.”

 

As told by her niece who recorded their conversation, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said her dying wish was to “not be replaced until a new president is installed.”  Today it is very apparent this will not be the case.  Trump promised he would nominate someone by Saturday.  The Republican leadership, under Lindsay Graham and Mitch McConnell, have promised that a vote would happen before the election.  As I’ve said before, these are the same two low-life hypocrites who in 2016 said that no judge should be appointed during an election year.

 

In lamenting the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths in America, ABC news tonight pointed out that COVID-19 cases are still rising in 33 states (Virginia is not one of them).  Deaths are rising in 15 states. The US has 4% of the world’s population but more than 20% of the coronavirus deaths.  Meanwhile, tonight Trump is heading to another big rally in Pennsylvania where almost no one will be wearing a mask.

 

Here are today’s statistics from worldometers.info:

September 22      Infected                   Died

World               31,741,884              973,930

US                       7,094,558              205,379

Virginia               142,010                  3,060

Augusta County          469                         7

Same old story:  5,000 more worldwide deaths, nearly 1,000 more American deaths, and 39 more Virginia deaths since yesterday.

 

September 23, 2020

Central’s secretary/bookkeeper, who was on the verge of losing her job for excessive absences earlier this month, has now missed all three days of work this week.  I think her future at CUMC is in serious jeopardy.  That means I may need to step up with QuickBooks.  I’m certainly not looking for a job now, especially that one, but I’ll do what I can do help Central.

 

Lynn is having issues with the Waynesboro High School student she’s been tutoring for the past two years.  WHS is 100% virtual now but he is not participating as he is expected to.  Their classes are synchronous which means he’s got to be online when the class is being taught.  He has a Chromebook at home and supposedly has Xfinity internet service.  He sometimes joins his English class but claims he can’t connect to this ESL class.  The teachers communicate via e-mail with Lynn so she is keeping up with his poor grades due to lack of participation.  She doesn’t want him to drop out, for sure, but there is a problem which is some combination of his technical difficulties, lack of desire on his part to participate, and/or lack of support from the Waynesboro staff.  I’m not sure where the fingers need to be pointed but it is causing high anxiety with Lynn which she doesn’t deserve.  He did fine in his classes last year when they were in-person before COVID-19 hit.

 

It is fair to say that both of us have increased anxiety and the Presidential race isn’t helping.  Can you believe that our idiotic President last night at a mega-rally in Pennsylvania with thousands shoulder-to-shoulder with few masks actually made fun of Joe Biden for—get this—wearing a mask in public.  His followers had signs saying “Fill Her Seat” encouraging him to do the inevitable with the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court position.  All of this sends my blood pressure up the dial.

 

The Gutshall kids are sad this morning as they lost one of their new kittens which didn’t get out from under Josh’s car as he left home this morning.  Betsy and Freddie really love their cats so I know they’ll be upset.

 

Today was not a busy day for us.  We began the day with a visit to Kroger where I stayed in the car while Lynn went in to shop, especially for her favorite yogurt which was on sale.  Before and during coronavirus she has been a superb shopper.

 

The Staunton newspaper is somewhat worthless now.  We’re supposed to get a Sunday paper but it has arrived only once this month.  Others in the community have been complaining about its really bad service apparently since it was purchased recently by the Richmond newspaper.  I will say that the online version is OK and today included an article about COVID-19 cases in Augusta County Schools.  It had a dashboard showing how many cases and where.  It turns out that ACPS has had ten total cases since students started with in-person instruction, four of which are close to us.  Clymore Elementary has had two cases, one with a student and one with staff.  Fort Defiance High School has had two student positives.

 

Here’s a tidbit from ABC news that I’m not surprised to see:  Dr. Blythe Adamson, a former member of the White House coronavirus task force, told “GMA3” on Wednesday, “One of things that we just learned recently — and published in a new study today in Clinical and Infectious Diseases — is that being indoors, you’re 20 times more likely to catch COVID from an infectious person than if you were around them outdoors.”  That’s one reason why doctors are worried more about the winter where people are driven indoors due to the cold.

 

I’m so glad we don’t live in Indiana.  Indiana will move to Stage 5, its final phase of reopening, on Saturday, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has announced.  Retail stores, malls, restaurants, bars and nightclubs can operate at full capacity under the Stage 5 rules.  There will be no restrictions at gyms and large events like sports, fairs and festivals can resume.  I just checked the data—Indiana has 116,000 cases and 3,530 deaths thus far.  Their positivity rate is 6%.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

September 23      Infected                   Died

World               32,051,918              980,175

US                       7,132,382              206,348

Virginia               142,590                  3,089

Augusta County          470                         7

 

Tonight was Zoom night.  Jim didn’t make it on but Kay and Ann both did.

 

September 24, 2020

Like it or not I appear to have a new job.  Today was another day that the CUMC secretary/bookkeeper didn’t come to work.  Pastor Won is livid especially since he needed a lot of help putting together the annual report for the Charge Conference which is to be held this coming Tuesday at 3:00.  So I volunteered to come in and help him get the data he needed for the report.  I got there around 9:30 and stayed until 2:00.  In addition to finding the data he needed, I decided to look more closely at the bookkeeper’s work for the past four months.  Oh my gosh, there were multiple mistakes.  The errors were in which accounts which were debited for checks written.  I literally went through every check she had written in the past four months and corrected the errors that I could.  I still ended up with about 12 transactions that I had questions about which need to be asked to her in person.

 

I think it is fair to say that I will just take over the bookkeeper’s job for the next two months.  I told Pastor Won that I wanted to hire the previous bookkeeper, Sarah, back for a day to help me learn enough about QuickBooks to get me going.  Sarah has two small children, one a newborn, so I’ll have to see if she is interested in helping me.

 

I’ll likely keep this job until a new person can be hired.  Actually I will likely keep it for a while after that so the new person can learn the secretarial job before I have her do the bookkeeper’s part.

 

We’ve lived at 296 Leaport Road for 32 years now.  Today marked a first for us here—we have a political sign in our front yard.  We picked up a sign today at the Staunton-Augusta County Democratic Office today with “Biden – Harris – Warner” on it.  Jim texted us that we shouldn’t be surprised if it gets stolen.  Those in his neighborhood had that fate this past week.  I have never felt so negative about a President as I do about Trump.  What more can I say that I haven’t already said in the past five months here?

 

Our sign isn’t the only one in the neighborhood.  The Sheffers have a Biden sign in their front yard, too.  But there are many, many more Trump signs in this redneck country.

Here are today’s statistics:

September 24      Infected                   Died

World               32,407,986              987,697

US                       7,185,471              207,538

Virginia               143,492                  3,113

Augusta County          474                         7

Just another typical depressing day for COVID-19.

 

September 25, 2020

Our sign made it through one night without being vandalized.  I don’t know that I’ll be able to say this until election day.

 

This is from Apple News this morning:

The U.S. is now averaging roughly 43,000 new cases per day, a 16% increase from a week ago.  The biggest increases are largely concentrated in the West and Midwest, though Maine and New Jersey also saw their new infections tick up over the past week.  Seven states — Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Texas, Utah and Wyoming — saw their daily infections rise by at least 60% over the past week.  Testing was up by almost 22% over the same period. The U.S. is now conducting about 860,000 coronavirus tests per day.  What’s next: There’s every reason to believe the next several months will be a particularly high-risk period.   Colder weather will cause people to move indoors, where the virus spreads more easily. People will travel and see friends and family over the holidays. Mask adherence is already only so-so. And flu season will set in at the same time.  The NIH’s Anthony Fauci has said cases should ideally be below 10,000 per day heading into the fall. But we haven’t been able to consistently keep them under 40,000.  The bottom line: The U.S. is racing toward a vaccine, and doctors are getting better at treating the virus. But Americans, overall, are pretty bad at doing the simple things necessary to contain the virus, save lives and make us all safer.

 

Our Governor, Ralph Northram, announced today that he and his wife have both tested positive for coronavirus.  He is the only governor who has a M.D. degree so I know he will take care of himself as he isolates for the next ten days.  This just goes to show that COVID-19 is not mindful of whom it attacks.  He doesn’t have any symptoms yet though his wife has mild ones.  Let’s hope it stays this way.  The Missouri governor also has tested positive this week.

 

Lynn had a few jobs today with Rockingham County Public Schools but I had nothing.  I spent a long time cleaning up the CUMC files on my downstairs computer’s hard drive.  I have a backup there of all the important files from the secretary and treasurers’ computers at Central.  It is always important to have off-site backups.

 

I had to wait a while today to get a prescription for Lynn but it isn’t one she’s looking forward to taking.  Next Thursday she has a colonoscopy scheduled; the prescription is for the awful stuff she’s required to take the night before.  I’ve done this twice and it has been greatly uncomfortable both times.

 

Tomorrow we are going to drive to Arlington for Georgia’s 8th birthday party.  It will be held at the nice Arlington park just a few steps from her house, the same place where Thomas held his 10th birthday party earlier this year.  She is certainly growing up—she speaks so fluently now when we Zoom or talk in person.  She is a mini-Kay, for sure.

 

I couldn’t be a bigger support of Joe Biden for President, as I’ve written and written about so many times.  However, I am more than tired of the e-mails and texts I get each day from his staff and from other Democratic candidates for state offices asking for money.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I get ten e-mails a day asking for money.  Maybe they figure they’ll wear me down and I’ll give in.  Personally, I think they will all win (except the local congressman who will be re-elected in this very Republican district) with or without my money so I just plan to spend it elsewhere.  I know, it’s a good thing that everyone doesn’t do this.

 

ABC news reports that the death toll from COVID-19 in Florida has now topped 14,000 after an increase of 120 new deaths in the last day, according to the Florida Department of Health.  The fatality total — 14,083 — is made up of 13,915 Florida residents and 168 non-residents.  This comes as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday that restaurants and bars can reopen at full capacity, effective immediately.  He is a big Trump ally and today said “We’re not going to close anything down going forward.”  How stupid can this Republican governor be?  Florida has over 695,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, the third-highest state for case totals in the nation, behind California and Texas.

 

ABC also said in the Midwest, the virus is now landing squarely in places where there is strong resistance to masks and governors have been reluctant to require face coverings.  In Joplin, Missouri, a mask ordinance was allowed to expire in mid-August as virus fatigue grew. Since then, the number of positive cases there and in surrounding Jasper County — a deeply conservative county that Trump won by more than 50 percentage points over Hillary Clinton in 2016 — has risen about 80%.   Wisconsin is averaging more than 2,000 new cases a day over the last week, compared with 675 three weeks earlier. Hospitalizations in the state are at their highest level since the outbreak took hold in the U.S. in March.  Utah has seen its average daily case count more than double from three weeks earlier. Oklahoma and Missouri are regularly recording 1,000 new cases a day, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a staunch opponent of mask rules, tested positive this week. Kansas and Iowa are also witnessing a spike in cases. And South Dakota and Idaho are seeing sky-high rates of tests coming back positive.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

September 25      Infected                   Died

World               32,742,593              992,835

US                       7,235,872              208,323

Virginia               144,433                  3,136

Augusta County          478                         7

How many times have I commented that there were 50,000 more cases in the US, nearly 1,000 more deaths, and 1,000 more cases in Virginia?  Like a broken record… And notice that the world is nearing a million deaths due to COVID-19.

 

September 26, 2020

We have two birthday celebrations this week for two special girls.  Georgia’s 8th birthday party was today in Arlington.  Betsy turns 11 on Wednesday.  Both girls are so special and bring so much pride to me.  They’ve each had good examples to follow with their moms and Grandmommy.  I feel so blessed to have such wonderful females in my life.

 

We spent the better part of the day in Arlington, all outside, helping to set up for, enjoy, and clean up after Georgia’s party.  There were nine girls in all there, including Georgia, and they seemed to have a good time.  They decorated cupcakes, enjoyed a visit from a rabbit, Freddie, brought to them by their first grade teacher Mrs. Snead, and ate cupcakes.  We visited a little with the Foys back at their house before heading home.

 

On the way we stopped for take-out dinner at the Cracker Barrell in Front Royal.  We got home around 8:30.   I had recorded the WVU – Oklahoma State football game from the afternoon so I spent the next 2 ½ hours watching it.  Alas, the Mountaineers fell, 27-13.  They didn’t play badly, just had some crucial mistakes which doomed them.

 

While I watched the game I uploaded the 140 pictures I took today.  There were some nice pictures of Georgia and others.

 

I didn’t start writing tonight until two hours after my bedtime so this entry will be short in the blog.  At least I’ll include today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 26      Infected                   Died

World               33,055,037              998,721

US                       7,287,561              209,177

Virginia               145,408                  3,144

Augusta County          494                         7

 

September 27, 2020

Lynn and I had gotten some sweet tea last night on our way home, an unusual event for us to have caffeine late in the day.  We paid for it.  Neither of us slept well.  Also, we’ve started watching a Netflix series, Virgin River, which we both like a lot and just served to keep us wide awake well past midnight, something very uncharacteristic for the two of us.

 

I’m not feeling good about things today.  I feel like I’m backed into a corner by COVID-19 and it creeps closer every day.  I feel like Lynn and I are locked into our house and can’t go anywhere due to her mother’s fragile condition and coronavirus.  We both are healthy and have money to travel but cannot.  I feel angry about the political state of affairs and am worried that there are just enough fools in America not to re-elect him but to make it close enough that he will go ballistic with charges of a rigged election and refuse to leave.  I don’t have any projects to keep me busy which is a bad thing because then I sit around and worry.

 

And yes, I’m still lamenting West Virginia’s loss to Oklahoma State yesterday.  Here’s what really griped me.  Lynn set the DVR to record the game on ABC and it did just that.  But in the middle of the game ABC interrupted the broadcast to bring in Donald Trump’s announcement of Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination as Supreme Court Justice.  His speech and her acceptance took just enough time that I did not get to see West Virginia’s only touchdown of the day.  I missed the last five minutes of the first half.  I will NEVER be happy to watch Donald Trump spew lies while he preempts WVU football.  That plus little sleep has put me into a real funk today.

 

I know I should count my blessings.  Today I spent almost an hour just watching two of my computer screens simultaneously post random pictures from my 6,000+ file of favorites.  These photos really show how blessed Lynn and I have been with family, travels, and events.  If I concentrate only on these pictures I am transported into a much nicer world than the one I find myself in when the screen saver is turned off.

 

Lynn and I went to Harrisonburg this afternoon to buy her a special iron for her Criquet machine that will enable her to put labels and designs on oddly shaped items like shoes.  She does so much with her Criquet and I want to enable her to do even more.  Her talents at craft type work seem to be endless.

 

This afternoon I fixed some ribs we had purchased at Costco.  They had to be grilled for 30 minutes then put in the oven for an hour.  They tasted great!  I also peeled some apples and Lynn cooked them along with some tomatoes.  Another yummy dinner.

 

After dinner we had the Gutshalls over.  Lynn had made brownies and some hot fudge sauce for them.  We added ice cream and that made for a great dessert.  All of them were here except Henry who was at a friend’s.

 

The big news tonight is that the New York Times reported that they had uncovered records that prove that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for president and in his first year in the White House, according to a report Sunday in The New York Times.  Trump, who has fiercely guarded his tax filings and is the only president in modern times not to make them public, paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years.

 

We are not wealthy but even with our retirement income we paid over $16,000 in taxes last year.  The thought that Trump paid so little sends my blood curdling.  I commented to Ann and Josh tonight that the timing was great for this release with the first debate coming this Tuesday night and the election just over a month away.  Ann replied that his base won’t care; they are blind to all his other shortcomings so why should this be different?  That’s depressing.  I’d think that any tax paying American would be furious that someone supposedly worth billions could get by with paying virtually no federal income tax while the rest of us fund his lavish lifestyle as President.  I hope Biden hops all over this Tuesday night.

 

Of course, Trump, when questioned about this at a press conference today, said it was “fake news.”  I trust the New York Times much more than I trust Donald Trump.

 

There wasn’t much about COVID-19 in tonight’s news; I wonder if we’re getting accustomed to having a million people die due to a disease.  Here are the statistics:

September 27      Infected                   Died

World               33,297,503           1,002,137

US                       7,320,669              209,453

Virginia               146,144                  3,159

Augusta County          497                         7

Yes, the world topped a million deaths due to coronavirus.  The US has 5% of the population but 20% of the deaths.  Sure, let’s Keep America Great…

 

September 28, 2020

Facebook is having a field day with the news that Trump only paid $750 in income taxes in 2016 and 2017.  Posts say he paid less than undocumented immigrants.  Another said that he has claimed to be a billionaire so his tax rate must be .00000000032%.  Another pointed out that Biden paid over $3.2 million in income tax that year.  Yet another said that you and I have been paying for his golfing trips while he pays only $750 annually toward the government’s expenses.  Some of his supporters say that this just proves how smart Trump is.  Smart?  I would call it being a leech, a parasite.  I think any decent tax prosecutor would call him a tax evader.

 

Another bit of news that was leaked is that he deducted $70,000 from his taxes for hair styling while he was on The Apprentice.  A Facebook post today noted that teachers can only deduct $250 per year for out-of-pocket expenses they spend on their students.

 

I am happy to report that our Biden sign has remained up and undefiled.  I believe this is because there really are plenty of others, including our neighbors, who perhaps supported Trump in 2016 but have now realized what a total waste of a President he is.

 

Today Lynn and I rode to Central together.  My reason for going is that yesterday was the 3rd Sunday of the month which means Sam Richardson and I had to do the weekly deposit for CUMC.  Lynn’s reason wasn’t so pleasant—she and Pastor Won were meeting with the current secretary/bookkeeper to let her know that her employment was being terminated on October 6.  She wasn’t surprised since she has missed over 1/3 of the days since she began work on June 1.

 

After we returned home and had lunch, Lynn went in to help her mother with lunch and I decided to get rid of the poor excuse of a garden that I had.  This was an especially bad year for our tomatoes.  First the rabbits ate the plants when they were first put in the ground.   After I replanted the tomatoes did well.  I had them staked and even surrounded by a small fence to keep the rabbits out.   Then we went away for a day or so.  When we got back, every plant had its top eaten off by the deer.  I attempted to put up a fishing line fence to keep the deer out and we didn’t have more deer damage that I could see.  Then we had the rainiest August ever.  I think we might have actually eaten about ten tomatoes all season from the twenty plants.  We’ve resorted to buying them now and will probably do that in the future.

 

It was certainly a lot of work today to pull up the fence posts and tomato stakes.  I counted 42 in all and plenty were tough to get out of the ground.  Then I rolled the fence up and stored it in our storage room beneath the patio, ran my mower over the tomato plants, then got the tiller out and tilled the garden space.  What a difference in how the back yard looks now.  I confess that I was exhausted when I finished.  I had taken some breaks while working but still this wore me out.  This just gave me more reason to plant sunflowers and zinnias next year instead of tomatoes.

 

After some rest and a few Whirly Word puzzles I was ready to get back outside.  Lynn said she felt like walking a little.  So, for the first time since July 28, we walked on the road.  I had an appointment to have the oil change in my truck tomorrow so we rode up to Simmons Repair and walked back home.  It was approximately one mile.  It felt so good to be walking with her again.  She didn’t complain about pain the entire way back though she did prop her foot up once we got here.

 

The news tonight said coronavirus infections were up in 33 states though Virginia was not one of them.  Here are the statistics:

 

September 28      Infected                   Died

World               33,524,810           1,005,662

US                       7,356,949              209,740

Virginia               146,593                  3,172

Augusta County          500                         7

 

Dr. Fauci says we need to get the daily infections down to 10,000 or fewer to get control of the pandemic.  We’ve got a long way to go, nearly 40,000 today.  At least Virginia’s infections are lower than usual.

 

September 29, 2020

Today was a gloomy day, weather-wise, with sporadic rain and cool temperatures.  No outside work today!

 

I spent the morning working with the bookkeeper at Central UMC trying to get some items in her books in the correct categories.  We were mildly successful.  I need to get with our minister to complete this task.  Her last day of work is next Tuesday so on Monday I am going to work with her on reconciling the bank accounts of the church.  Not fun…

 

Afterwards Lynn and I ran to Costco to do more shopping for Central.  I have the church’s Costco card which allows me to purchase items there tax-free.  The food pantry had asked me to get 12 canisters of coffee, two cases of tea bags, and two 50 pound bags of sugar.

 

This afternoon I served as secretary for the church’s Charge Conference meeting via Zoom.  I guess it would be fair to say I did a lot of CUMC work today.

 

ABC news reported today that there has been a substantial increase in coronavirus cases among children.  In April, children accounted for about 2.2% of all reported U.S. cases, but by September that figure had risen to 10%. By Sept. 24, according to the study, which used data from U.S. public health department websites, 624,890 cases in children had been reported.

 

Tonight was the first Biden-Trump debate.  To prepare for it, Lynn and I ate an early dinner.  I did the dishes then we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  To be honest, we both wanted Lynn to have a good meal today because tomorrow she cannot eat because she will be in preparation for her Thursday colonoscopy.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

September 29      Infected                   Died

World               33,776,995           1,010,564

US                       7,396,459              210,620

Virginia               147,516                  3,187

Augusta County          505                         7

 

Another 40,000 Americans infected and nearly 900 more dead.  Another 1,000 Virginians infected and 25 more dead.

 

I’ll write about the debate tomorrow.  For tonight I’m going to enjoy it in bed!

 

September 30, 2020

If anyone had any doubt that our current President is a low-class, rude bully they should have no cause for disbelief after last night’s debate.  George Stephanopolous said it well this morning on Good Morning America when he said that the only way to describe the debate was as a disgrace.  It was a disgrace to Americans everywhere.  Every time Joe Biden or the moderator Chris Wallace tried to talk they was interrupted by the name-calling low-life.  Yes, Biden lost his cool at times but who wouldn’t have?  At least there were several times in the debate when Biden looked straight at the camera and reached out to viewers.  Trump only glared in contempt of everything.  He was an embarrassment to the country.  News reporters called the debate “chaos” and “a debacle.”

 

Why should Biden debate him again?  There are two more debates scheduled but I can see no reason why Biden should return to a stage with that classless bulldog on it.  I heard on NBC this morning that 11% of voters are undecided.  I don’t believe it.  How can anyone be undecided by now?  I read online today that 1.3 million Americans have already voted.  More reasons to not have a second debate.

 

I’m not the only one calling for the next two debates to be canceled.  The Atlantic said:

Cancel the Debates–Tonight brought the first debate of this presidential election, and if there is any sense left in this nation, it will be the last too.  Pity the poor closed-caption writers. Pity the poor ASL interpreters. But most of all, pity poor us, the American electorate.

Tonight was the first presidential debate of the 2020 election, and if there is any sense or mercy left in this nation, it will be the last too. The event was a shambolic shout fest, with scarcely a single morsel of substance to be found. President Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, lied repeatedly, refused to condemn racist groups even after explicitly offering to do so, and sought to undermine trust in the election. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat, meandered through his positions, only occasionally finishing a sentence. Moderator Chris Wallace lost control within minutes and never regained it.

Many other writers, including Time’s TV critic, agree that the remaining debates should be canceled.  I would like to see one between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, though.

 

The news this morning made a big deal that Trump refused to condemn white supremacists.  They should.  He was given a direct chance to do this and did not.  Instead he launched another attack on the radical left.

 

On Facebook, my friend and Rockingham County School Board member Lowell Fulk simply asked, “Do you ever get the feeling that the other countries in the world are looking at each other, and shaking their heads sadly, and in dismay?”

 

I made a quick trip to Central UMC this morning to drop off the coffee, sugar, and tea we had purchased yesterday at Costco.  This is rural Virginia, of course, and there are many, many Trump signs including one our neighbors the Parish’s just put up.  The one that really gets me has the phrase “Keep America Great” on it.  What sane person could think that America is great now?  We have record unemployment, COVID-19 everywhere, rampant racial discord, and unprecedented political bickering.  We are practically locked in our houses, unable to visit with family, barred from leaving the country, with no entertainment events being held that we can attend.  We have a lying, insulting President we’re ashamed of.  We have hypocritical Senators looking out for themselves and their party only.  What is great about this?

 

I had little on my plate today.  Lynn, on the other hand, had several things.  She took care of her Mom at lunchtime.  Then she returned home, made a few quick phone calls, then interpreted for a rather long IEP meeting via Zoom this afternoon.  After that we went to Harrisonburg to drop off a timesheet at the Rockingham County School Board office then went to Acme Stove Company in Harrisonburg to see about purchasing a fire pit for our pergola.  Unfortunately, the one we want is out of stock until the spring.  That’s OK; we’ll get it then.  After a couple more quick stops for her at Hobby Lobby and the Dollar Store we returned home in time for her to get another scheduled phone call from her supervisor with Albemarle County Schools where she does the Migrant Education work.  It has not been a pleasant day for her—she’s been limited to drinking tea and sipping bouillon since her colonoscopy is scheduled for 7:15 tomorrow morning at Augusta Health.  I’ll take her there but, thanks to COVID-19, will stay in the car the entire time.

 

Jim Printy checked out the book Exploring the Abandoned Coal Towns of West Virginia, The Southeastern Region, from the local library.  He then shared the book with me since he knew I would have a connection.  It had lots of pictures and, of course, presented a very depressing message.  But annoying was that the author had many geographic errors.  For example, she showed pictures of Pocahontas, Virginia (just 5 miles from where I grew up) and then wrote that it was in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.  Pocahontas County WV is well over 100 miles from Pocahontas VA.  The book detailed 11 towns in West Virginia which had basically been abandoned since the early heydays of coal.  Two, Wheeling and Moundsville, were in the northern panhandle of the state—hardly the southeastern region.  Wheeling has a population of over 26,000 so I wouldn’t call it abandoned.  Moundsville has over 8,000.

 

The book did include Matoaka which was very near Bramwell and can certainly be labeled as an abandoned town.  It has 207 people as of 2018.  When I was growing up, it was home to a high school which probably had around 1,000 students in it.  It was never a favorite town of mine, especially since two of the five losses the Class A Bramwell Millionaires had in 1968 were to the Class AA Matoaka Indians.

 

The book treated McDowell as a town instead of the county it is.  I had hoped it would have included something about tiny Pageton which is where my mother came from.  It was once a bustling mining town where my grandfather was the chief electrician.  Now it has a population of 187 according to Google.

 

Lynn went all day without eating then began her colonoscopy prep by taking that awful junk this evening which makes you clean out your entire insides.  I feel so sorry for her.  I’ve been there, done that, and it’s no fun.  We told the kids we wouldn’t be on Zoom tonight like we usually do on Wednesday nights.

 

ABC news says that Wisconsin has a record number of cases of COVID-19.  Guess where Trump has his next two rallies scheduled?  The Governor asked him to skip the rallies or require the supporters to wear masks.  Won’t happen…  Cases are rising in 31 states today.  The news detailed a story of an Appalachian State College student who was “perfectly healthy” then got coronavirus and died.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

September 30      Infected                   Died

World               34,128,168           1,017,839

US                       7,442,081              211,635

Virginia               148,271                  3,208

Augusta County          512                         7

The numbers just tell more of the same that I report every day.  Yet every one of them is a person, someone’s loved one.

 

August 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

August 1, 2020

Another month of blogs.  Today’s news is that there are six vaccines in Phase 3 of testing.  But one expert warned that even if some work, the question will be for how long will they work?  And how will 300,000,000 doses be distributed in a timely fashion?

 

The forecast for the next two weeks has thunderstorms every single day.  At least the temperatures are supposed to be lower those the humidity will be high.

 

The rain held off today and I was able to get the grass cut.  It needed it; all the rain we’ve had recently had caused it to grow.  I can remember some times in the past when you could almost go the entire month of August without mowing.  That won’t be the case this year.

 

Deaths rose in 35 states over the past 24 hours including Virginia.  Many outbreaks are traced back to large gatherings.  For example, a prom in Indiana led to many new cases.  New Jersey is cracking down on parties and indoor gatherings.  There were more than 1,000 deaths on 11 of the 31 days in July.  California now has over 500,000 cases.  Over 9,000 have died there.  Texas passed New York in confirmed cases.

 

I did something for the first time in four months today–I went into Aldi’s grocery store.  Lynn can’t go in with her broken foot and we needed a few things so I went in.  Aldi’s is a very safe store with arrows on the floor directing traffic and everyone wearing masks.  There were a sparse number of customers when I was there so I felt unthreatened.

 

We had Lynn’s sister Kay over for dinner tonight.  It was her 73rd birthday.  She and Lynn are so close, especially since her mother has moved to The Legacy several years ago.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               17,989,715              687,660

US                       4,762,954              157,827

Virginia                  90,801                  2,215

Augusta County          251                         4

 

It sounds like a broken record:  another 1,000 more deaths in the US, another 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Virginia’s death total increased by another large number, 41.  In early July the daily death total in Virginia was 4-6 per day.

 

August 2, 2020

Things are certainly not good in the US as we start into August.  As I’ve documented nearly every day, COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire.  The unemployment benefits that those who were put out of work due to coronavirus expired this week and Congress and the White House can’t agree on assistance for the future.  People everywhere are suffering from the virus and suffering financially.  To add insult to injury, a hurricane is sweeping up the Atlantic coast.  Racial discord is rampant.

 

In our household, Lynn’s foot is still hurting but she and I would both admit that this is nothing compared to what others are going through.  Actually, our household is currently not suffering from any of the items mentioned in my previous paragraph.  We have both health and money.  Our weather forecast is rainy but not severe.  There is no evidence of discord in our home.  We are lucky and acknowledge that.

 

NBC news had a story this morning about all the false information about COVID-19 that is posted on social media.  There is misinformation about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and facial covering.  These blatant lies just fuel the conflict between those on the right and left and deter the US from getting control of the virus.

 

Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary of Health and a White House coronavirus task force member, was on Meet the Press today.  He basically gave a non-answer to the question of why testing is still not adequate in America, often taking nearly two weeks to get back results.  He said the key was to have 95% of the public wearing masks but wouldn’t go so far to say the US needs a mask mandate nationwide.  He said that there have been five studies which show that hydroxychloroquine does not work for coronavirus cases.

 

This morning was the first Sunday in August so Central had another drive-by communion service which Lynn and I participated in.  Then we hustled back home as I had agreed to play the piano for Pastor Won’s Zoom Bible Study at 11:00.

 

COVID-19 has certainly emptied our calendar.  I don’t have any appointments or calendar notes for the next nine days.  Lynn’s Pergola swings are due here on Tuesday so Wednesday will hopefully be installation day for them.  I don’t really have any work projects scheduled, either, though the projected rainy weather would deter any outside work anyway.

 

We had an afternoon grocery pickup at Kroger; before then Lynn baked bread and helped her mother with lunch.  It was the first time she had driven since her accident.  Since it is her left foot that is broken it isn’t too hard for her to drive.  Her car has automatic transmission unlike our other two vehicles.

 

Lynn’s sister Jane and Darrell came to our house after dinner.  Darrell had asked me last night about when I’d like to play tennis so I suggested they come over tonight.  The four of us enjoyed wine slushies and some avocado dip afterwards.  Darrell and I hit for a good while before and after the wine slushies.

 

Lynn and I have quickly gotten hooked on a Netflix TV series.  It is Dead to Me.  We originally started watching it because it was listed as a comedy but there’s nothing funny about it.  It has a very twisted, but believable, plot.  And it is well written and cast.  I believe it is just starting season two; we are currently watching episodes of season one.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               18,195,161              691,773

US                       4,809,490              158,307

Virginia                  91,782                  2,218

Augusta County          252                         4

 

The Virginia deaths were down considerably (3) as were the national ones (480).  Virginia again had almost a thousand new cases.

 

August 3, 2020

Today we are three months away from two momentous occasions to me:

  • On November 3, we will hold national elections. The best case scenario to me is that Joe Biden will be elected President and both the House and Senate will become Democratically controlled.  We need to drain the swamp, for sure, beginning in the Oval Office.  The further we can get those who are now leading our country out of office, and perhaps behind bars, the better.  Look at where we are now–COVID-19 is everywhere thanks to the anemic response from our federal government at the beginning and lack of a coordinated response now, unemployment is catastrophic and relief is nowhere to be found, race relations are the worst they have been since the 1960’s, and trust in leadership has evaporated.   Gun violence occurs daily.  Protesting turns into rioting in many cities.   School opening is in chaos due to the justifiable fear of coronavirus.  Healthcare workers put themselves at great risk due to the many COVID-19 cases they have to deal with daily and the continued lack of protective equipment.  Reliable tests for COVID are not available to everyone and some take up to two weeks to return results.  Vaccines to prevent coronavirus and treatment for those who have it are still nowhere to be found.  Meanwhile, our President is playing golf and touting vodoo doctors’ advice.   Can it get worse?  Well, it can get better if we dump Donald Trump and unseat those senators and representatives who still advocate rushing students back into an environment ripe for COVID-19, supporting an egomaniac president who sets a horrendous example for others, disavowing advice from medical experts, and allowing the public to own guns that can kill hundreds of people in a matter of seconds.
  • I turn 70 on that day. I’ve written before that reaching the seventh decade is something that my most direct ancestors did not achieve.  Of my two parents and four grandparents, only two of the six lived to the age of 70.  My brother and sister have both passed this landmark.  I look forward to doing the same.  To do so, I’ll have to avoid COVID-19 as well as the other maladies that have taken my forebearers down such as cancer and cerebral embolisms.  I’ll have to continue to receive the grace of God as I drive and walk on our highways.  And I’ll have to be sure not to infuriate any of the many gun-toting, maskless, right-wingers in Virginia.

 

I hope all those who are making decisions about schools reopening heard the story on this morning’s news about the YMCA summer camp in Georgia.  I found the article below on the webmd website:

 

With school reopenings just a few weeks away, a report on how the new coronavirus spread rapidly through a summer camp in Georgia suggests kids transmit the virus very well.

 

Nearly 600 young campers and counselors attended the camp in late June, and of the 344 who were tested for COVID-19, 76% tested positive by mid-July. Three-quarters of the COVID-19 cases for which information was available involved symptoms, including sore throatheadache and fever.  The camp opened for staff on June 17 and kids started arriving four days later. The first known case involved a teen camp staff member who developed chills on June 23 and tested positive for COVID-19 the next day.  After that, the camp was quickly disbanded and it closed on June 27.  Campers, who averaged 12 years of age, hadn’t been required to wear masks although camp staff wore masks, the researchers said.  There was also a “variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering” — prime activities for the spread of breath droplets laden with coronavirus.  Campers were also housed closely together — 15 to a cabin, on average — according to a team led by Christine Szablewski, of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Among the 31 cabins, the COVID-19 infection rate averaged 50%.  The odds that a camper would be “attacked” by the virus “increased with increasing length of time spent at the camp,” the researchers said. That means that camp staff (who arrived about a week before the campers) experienced the highest attack rate, at 56%.  Szablewski’s group said the rate of infection reported in the study is also “likely an underestimate because cases might have been missed among persons not tested.”  They also noted that, pursuant to a recent Georgia executive order, kids and staff at the camp had been mandated to show a negative result from a COVID-19 test performed 12 days or less before they were allowed to enter the camp. But that was still not enough to keep the infection at bay.

 

Augusta County Schools reopens on August 18.  The parking lots at Clymore Elementary, Stewart Middle, and Fort Defiance High School were loaded with teachers’ cars today as they reported for duty.  Four of our grandchildren will be in attendance at these three schools when school starts.  I’m predicting that by Labor Day the system will be shut down.

 

I’m not a Facebook poster.  Actually I have fewer than 40 Facebook friends so even if I did post something few would see it.  I do appreciate all of the re-posts Lynn makes which reflect my thinking.  Writing this blog does give me a way to express myself though the its audience is primarily one–me.  Even Lynn rarely reads my posts here.

 

Thanks to Tropical Storm Isaias we got a lot of rain today.  There were heavy rain and flash flood warnings posted for our area.

 

We did a couple of good deeds today.  We bought pizzas for Mary Gooden who is undergoing treatment for the return of her brain tumor and for the Toni Sheets family because Toni is dealing with a return of her colon cancer plus whose son Grayson was hurt in a beach accident.  All three of them looked good when we dropped the pizzas off.  While we were at Vito’s Pizza Pie we got some for Ann’s family and for us.

 

Tonight’s ABC news had another COVID-19 school opening nightmare.  Gwinnett County Georgia schools opened only to have 300 teachers and staff who either tested positive or were in close contact with someone who did.  Positive coronavirus rates are climbing in 25 states.  On a positive note, Eli Lilly announced that an antibody treatment has been developed which may be given to some nursing home residents.

 

Today Trump falsely insisted that the US has made significant progress in the pandemic and even called his own task force coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, “pathetic.”  He was worn a mask in public just three times.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               18,426,972              696,605

US                       4,860,508              158,899

Virginia                  93,106                  2,218

Augusta County          253                         4

 

I wonder about the accuracy of Virginia’s figures today.  There were 1,324 new cases but 0 reported new deaths.

 

August 4, 2020

The east coast is recovering from Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaias which flew up the coast last night and this morning.  It will be in upper New York by the end of the day.  We had a good bit of rain overnight but today’s forecast is OK for the afternoon.

 

Rockingham County and Harrisonburg City Schools have both decided to start school virtually for students in grades 2-12.  Plus, RCPS delayed the start until September 10 and will be virtual for the entire semester.  Yet Augusta County is still planning on in-person instruction starting in just two weeks.  Hmmm.

 

Trump said again that the coronavirus is “under control.”  As cases surge and deaths rise, he said the US is doing well. The truth is that the US death rate is the 4th highest in the world.  He said “we’re beginning to see evidence of significant progress.”  The number of new cases daily is still around 50,000.  Trump stupidly still touts hydroxychloroquine.  No competent medical authority agrees with him including his own advisers.

 

On ABC news, the FDA Commissioner insured that the decision on vaccine distribution would be based on science and data, not politics.  I’ll believe that when I see it.  Even George Stephanopoulos asked if there wouldn’t be some kind of “October surprise” about vaccine release.  This is what I’ve been predicting for months.

 

Apple News said that at least 30 states suffered higher rates of new deaths this past week compared to the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University.  In twelve of those states, including Virginia, the increase in deaths was at least 50%.  And test positivity rates–an indication of how rampantly a virus is spreading–remain stubbornly high in more than 30 states.

 

Two days ago I chipped off the very edge of one of my front teeth, probably on a peach pit.  So this morning I went to our dentist to have it taken care of.  I’ve thought highly of Dr. Karrel since he took over as our dentist when Ross Testerman retired.  But now I think even higher of him because he fixed my tooth, putting some filling in and filing it off, for just $20!

 

After that, I went to Central UMC to work with our administrative assistant who is new to treasury data entry.  The reports she produced for June had some mistakes in them that I wanted to correct.  It took several hours to get it resolved but I think we made good progress.  I’ve never used QuickBooks before which is where the errors were made.

 

Butch got some news from Ann’s doctor today that was very bothersome to him.  Ann’s recovery from the stroke has been slow though she has definitely made progress.  But today he was told that she may not recover 100%.  That had to be tough on him.  She’s likely to go to skilled care next though I do not know where that will take place.

 

Lynn and I had a very pleasant dinner on the back porch this evening.  The weather was great.  We had leftover pizza and guacamole dip.  It’s too bad that she can’t walk because the weather would have been perfect for a hike.

 

Today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               18,652,206              702,167

US                       4,910,179              160,037

Virginia                  94,251                  2,244

Augusta County          260                         4

 

Another day of no walking, no exercise.  I may be gaining weight!

 

August 5, 2020

Well, I weighed this morning and so far, so good on weight.  I’m a little under where I started when the pandemic began.

 

Lynn had an appointment this morning with the orthopedic doctor.  She is elated that he saw no need to put her foot in a cast.  She is to continue doing as she has been–wrapping it, keeping it elevated, and walking as pain allows.

 

While I waited on her in the parking lot I overheard lots of people talk about their medical conditions.  I am more thankful than ever that our health problems are minimal.  For some reason, perhaps mine to find out, God wants both of us to be around for a while longer.

 

We’ve been discussing the need for another computer for months now since my iMac’s hard drive died before Easter.  With our bank balance now in good shape I took the plunge and ordered a replacement.  Lynn had the idea of ordering a second laptop so each of us could use a computer while upstairs.  I was hesitant because I wanted a hard drive large enough to hold all of our pictures, iPhone backups, documents, etc.  Yesterday I found that Apple had released a new MacBook Pro with a 1 TB hard drive plus 16 GB of RAM, Retina display, fast processor, and even free personalized engraved iPods with charging case.  It was pricy, especially since I also had to order various adapters because it has the new USB-C ports and I need to be able to connect our phones, camera, televisions, and thumb drives.  I ordered the adapters from Amazon.  The laptop is supposed to be delivered tomorrow but the adapters won’t come until next week.

 

I e-mailed Nevin Diener, who still works on the RCPS Tech Staff,  this morning about my old iMac.  It is eight years old but has a huge 27″ screen.  Its hard drive is fried but otherwise it may be of some use.  I asked him if Rockingham County Schools would have any use for it.  He kindly replied that RCPS could put it to use but also offered that he would try to resuscitate it for me if I wanted him to.  By luck, Lynn had to go to the school board office today to take some papers so I dropped it off there for him to check out.  I can’t say enough good things about Nevin.  He was always a favorite employee of mine–superbly talented, level-headed, and kind hearted.  When I grow up I want to be like Nevin!  I told him that if he could bring it back to life I’d keep it for the grandkids to use when they’re at our house.

 

I’ve been chauffeuring Lynn around a lot lately.  She can drive but I’m able to drop her off nearer to her destination.  For example, at The Legacy I can drop her off in a parking lot not intended for Legacy patrons which is within 50 feet of her Mom’s door.  At the doctor’s office this morning I let her out right at the entrance so she wouldn’t have to limp through the parking lot.  To be honest, without being able to walk, I’ve been quite bored anyway.

 

This afternoon I chauffeured her to shop at TJ Maxx in Staunton after we made the run to Harrisonburg to drop off my computer and her papers at the Rockingham County School Board Office.  We also picked up a large pile of lima beans at an outdoor market.  Lynn loves limas!

 

Lynn’s swings did not come yesterday as she was initially told.  Actually the FedEx tracking finally said they would be delivered some time tomorrow.  They have now made their way from Alexandria, Louisiana to Memphis, Tennessee to Hagerstown, Maryland.  Jim agreed to come on Saturday and we’ll get her Pergola all set.  The only thing it will need then is to stain all the wood.

 

Today is Thomas’ tenth birthday.  We’re going to see him on Friday when he has an outdoor party at the park near their house in Arlington.  Despite COVID-19 he has maintained a busy summer with tennis, swimming, and soccer.  We had a Facetime visit with him today and also one with Faron and Coen as they demonstrated their new tire swing Jim installed for them using an old tire he found.

 

Trump said today that schools should re-open and that children were “almost immune” from it.  This is clearly not true and even if it were there would be the possibility that students like Freddie could bring it home to his family and us.

 

And no sooner did I write the last paragraph than I saw this from the Washington Post:

Facebook on Wednesday said it removed President Trump’s post of a video clip from a Fox News interview in which he said that children are “almost immune” from covid-19, marking the company’s increasingly tough stance on political speech amid heightened pressure. “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation,” said Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone.  This is the first time Facebook has taken down a post from the president for violating the company’s policies on covid misinformation.

 

Florida had another one-day record in the number of cases even though Trump claimed it is “going away.”  Deaths rose in 32 states today.

 

In the race for a vaccine, at Johnson & Johnson said that with one injection monkeys were prevented from being infected.  Their vaccine will be available in early 2021.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               18,939,745              709,700

US                       4,968,989              161,511

Virginia                  95,049                  2,274

Augusta County          262                         4

 

Another 30 Virginians succumb to COVID-19.  Another 1,500 people nationwide.  In neighboring Rockingham County and Harrisonburg, the number of people infected is 1,989.  The population of those two combined is 134,000 which means 1.5% of the population there has been infected.  Rockingham County Public Schools, where I worked for 25 years, has approximately 11,600 students.  If 1.5% of these students is or has been infected, that makes 172 students.  What do you think the probability is that in-person learning will work there without spreading COVID-19?  Augusta County’s infection rate is better, of course, but still the chance of spreading COVID-19 by having in-person schooling is very high.  Yet school starts there, in-person, in 13 days.  Lynn shared an open letter to the Augusta County school board requesting that schools back off of opening for the time being.  Both of us signed the letter as did hundreds of other residents.

 

August 6, 2020

Lynn and I have never had green thumbs.  Our tomatoes are lousy again this year though I blame that on the deer.  We’ve done a better job with flowers around the house but suffice it to say we’ll never make Southern Living.  One exception is our zinnias.  We planted them around the outside light pole and at the mailbox.  They have done very well, multiplying into many bright red blooms in both places.  Lynn kept the seeds from last year for some of these; they have done very well.

 

This morning ABC news has an example of what I wrote about late last night.  Last week, schools in Corinth, Miss., welcomed back hundreds of students. By Friday, one high-schooler tested positive for the novel coronavirus. By early this week, the count rose to six students and one staff member infected. Now, 116 students have been sent home to quarantine, a spokeswoman for the school district confirmed.  Despite the quick fallout, the district’s superintendent said he has no plans to change course.  “Just because you begin to have positive cases, that is not a reason for closing school,” Superintendent Lee Childress said in a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday on the school district’s Facebook page.  As districts around the country debate the merits of in-person classes vs. remote learning amid an escalating novel coronavirus pandemic, the Corinth School District’s early experience shows how quickly positive tests can lead to larger quarantines.

 

Yesterday Facebook had a photo from a high school in Georgia with the hallways very crowded and few students wearing masks.  Today we learned the student who posted it has been suspended.  That’s some way to handle the situation!

 

My latest hobby is creating cards and printing them on our printer.  Our HP color laser printer is not new but does a fine job printing on card stock.  I’ve made a bunch of cards recently and spent time this morning making one for Thomas’ birthday.

 

Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over this morning for a back porch chat session.  I went to the dump and also got the Gutshall’s trash.

 

Lynn drove herself to help her mother with lunch today.  Afterwards she had a WalMart pickup.  Ordinarily I would have gone with her but we wanted one of us to be home at all times today because of two important shipments:  the Pergola swings and new MacBook.  Both shipments were here by 2:30 PM.

 

Jim is going to come on Saturday morning to work on the Pergola.  He would have come this evening but the weather forecast isn’t good.  Saturday’s weather should be much better.  And I’ve decided that I’ll wait until the adapters from Amazon come next Thursday to set up the new laptop.  I want to be able to restore files and settings from the backup I made of the old iMac but I can’t do that until a USB-C to USB adapter is available.

 

Once everything was delivered I looked at the weather forecast.  It said there was a 35% chance of thunderstorms starting at 4:00.  So at 3:00 I left home on a walk by myself.  I got to the one mile mark when I felt a drop of rain.  By the time I got back home it was pouring and I was soaked.  Lynn tried to text me when she saw the rain start but I was afraid to get my phone out of my pocket with the rain coming down and no shelter in sight.  So I walked as fast as I could and tried to protect my phone.  Lynn put it in the rice bag (leftover from when my phone took a dip in the dishwater) and it appears to be fine.  With a change of clothes, so am I.

 

In fact, before 4:00 the Weather Bureau had issued a Flash Flood Warning for our immediate area.  Our phones, iPads, and laptop all buzzed with the warning.  It certainly rained hard and the storm was slow moving.  I’m sure we got over an inch of rain in less than a half hour.  The TV-3 news said that our area got three inches of rain in all.  The flooding in our immediate neighborhood was worse than I have ever seen since we’ve lived here in the past 32 years.  For example, our neighbors, the Parishes, couldn’t get to their house because there was a river that erupted in the valley between our house and theirs.  The water overflowed their bridge.  Danny Link’s field looked like a lake, as my pictures showed.  We had water dripping in our living room and some small damage to its ceiling.  Otherwise our house survived it OK.  We had no water in our basement or garage.

 

One of the issues with the ceiling in the living room is that I believe our upper gutter is clogged on one end which forces all of the water to come to the side of the living room.  It runs down toward the lower gutter, overflows and runs back into the ceiling.  I hope it won’t take much to fix this.

 

By 5:00 the rain had stopped.  But the meteorologist on the Channel 3 news said flooding in the Mount Sidney – Fort Defiance area was significant and encouraged listeners to avoid the area.  We heard that both US 11 and I-81 were closed.  Apparently Dam Town Road which connects Fort Defiance to New Hope was a mess.

 

In the news tonight, Trump is quoted as predicting there will be a new vaccine by Election Day.  Didn’t I predict he’d be saying that?  Look at my May 25 post.  Certainly we all wish this would be true but none of the national experts agree with him.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               19,215,008              716,088

US                       5,025,646              162,654

Virginia                  95,867                  2,299

Augusta County          261                         4

 

Again we have more than 50,000 new cases in the US and over 1,100 additional deaths in the past 24 hours.  Virginia has over 800 new cases and 25 new deaths.  Not good!  Somehow Augusta County is listed as having one fewer case today than yesterday.  I’m not sure how that happened.

 

August 7, 2020

New research from the University of Washington is predicting 300,000 deaths in the US by the first of December.  In good news, however, an internal Federal Emergency Management Agency memo obtained by ABC News shows that the U.S. is slightly coming down from its recent national surge. New cases and deaths in the last week have both decreased in week-over-week comparisons. At least 396,559 new cases were confirmed during the period of July 29 and Aug. 5, which is a 12.6% decrease from the previous seven-day period.  There were 7,348 deaths recorded in the same time frame, marking a 2.4% decrease in new deaths compared with the previous week.  The national test-positivity rate is also going down. In the last seven days, the rate was 7.5%, which is down from 8.6% from the previous week.

 

The Augusta County School Board met last night but decided to keep in-person schooling starting on August 18.  So I guess our four grandchildren will be subject to COVID-19 infections twice a week starting then.  In Georgia, where schools have restarted in-person, a seven year old just died from the virus.  The child had no underlying conditions.   The WHO reported that the proportion of cases in teens and young adults has gone up six-fold, and in very young children and babies the proportion has increased seven-fold.  Apparently the Augusta County School Board hasn’t read this information or just doesn’t care.

 

ABC news reported today on just how bad the month of July had been.  It turned out to be another deadly month for the U.S. as hundreds of thousands of people contracted the novel coronavirus.  There were 1,882,692 new cases diagnosed throughout the month and 25,259 new COVID-19 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In total, over 4.5 million Americans have contracted the virus and 152,000 have died since July 31.  (Note, this data is from Johns Hopkins whereas the data I report daily comes from worldometers.info whose numbers are somewhat higher).  The jump in infections took place in almost every state across the country, but the biggest rises were in Texas and Florida.  Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has ordered some residents to wear masks, bowing to political pressure as COVID-19 infection rates continue to shatter records in the state which saw 1,775 new cases in a single day.  Reeves made the announcement on Tuesday as the coronavirus infection rate shot up to 23.3%, pushing the state one step closer to becoming the nation’s next COVID-19 hot spot.

 

ABC also reported on how bad a month July was for the economy.  At the end of the month, the U.S. recorded a 32.9% decline in GDP during the third quarter of the year, marking the worst loss in productivity in decades. A combined 5.6 million Americans filed for unemployment during the month, as several businesses shuttered throughout the country.  Unemployment benefits for those Americans expired on July 31 after Congress failed to reach an agreement over an extension on The CARES Act in time, but negotiations have continued into August.

 

But to hear Donald Trump talk, everything is fine and dandy.  His disregard of science has allowed this virus to take over.

 

Our afternoon and evening were spent traveling to and from Arlington for Thomas’ 10th birthday party.  It was at the park very near to their house.  About ten kids came and they had a good time squirting each other with water guns.  We got to visit with Andy’s parents plus Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia.  The kids seemed to have such a good time playing with each other.  You can tell that they’re all starved for companionship after this awful summer.  They were pretty good about keeping their distance though the kids did not wear masks.  The weather was very cooperative.  It was a fine party!

 

After stopping back by their house to open Thomas’ birthday present from us we headed home.  I-66 had been very slow going up there in the afternoon and there were a few slow spots coming back though it was better.  By the time we got to Front Royal we were in need of gas and hungry.  It turned out to be a great stop–we got gas for $1.79/gallon, went to the nearby Target store for bathrooms (everyone had on masks), then picked up a great curbside meal from Cracker Barrel.  Lynn and I both like their country ham biscuit meals, which only cost around $5.00.  We got back home around 9:30.

 

I had over 100 pictures from the party to post to Flickr so I finished this post then started the upload.  This is past our normal bedtime!

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               20,541,216              724,050

US                       5,095,524              164,094

Virginia                  97,882                  2,317

Augusta County          264                         4

Not a good day:  over 70,000 new cases in the US and over 1,300 more deaths.  Virginia had 2,000 additional cases and 18 more deaths.

 

August 8, 2020

Today is the day to assemble Lynn’s Pergola swings.  Jim came up in the morning and we put together all five swings and mounted them to her Pergola.  Except for staining, this project is complete!  He got here at 11:00 and it took us until nearly 5:00 to finish the job.  We had no major troubles; it just took a while to assemble the swings and mount the hardware to attach them to the Pergola construction.  By the end of the day I also had pictures posted to my Flickr album which has detailed this project from start to finish.

 

Well, actually there’s one more job besides staining.  The chains that came with the swing are much too long and need to be cut off.  I might hacksaw them but I also may see if one of my friends has a bolt cutter I could borrow.  Another possibility is having Jim bring back the angle grinder we bought today at Harbor Freight that he used to cut off the ends of the bolts once everything was set.

 

Jim is such a good worker.  I’ve written before about how skilled he is.  His work ethic is excellent, too.  He doesn’t take short cuts.  For example, I would have left the eye bolts sticking above the Pergola with their nuts and washers.  Not Jim.  He insisted on countersinking the nuts and washers then cutting off the 1/2″ of the bolt which was still visible above the beams.  To do the latter we had to go to Harbor Freight and buy the cutter.

 

Jim also climbed our extension ladder to see if our uppermost gutter was stopped up.  It wasn’t.  I’m still confused as to why all of the rainwater drains from one side of the upper roof instead of both.  Why we’ve had some leaks over our living room is still very confusing to me.

 

Lynn is very, very pleased with the Pergola.  It is good to see her so satisfied.  Her foot is hurting too much for her to enjoy it a lot but she did have time this afternoon to swing on it with her friend Pat Collins who came over and brought supper for us.   Pat is so nice!  She made a very good taco salad.  For lunch Lynn had made pepperoni rolls so I ate well today!  And that included a very delicious stuffed pepper for dinner which Lynn had made yesterday.

 

I’ve been in tune with very little news today, especially about the pandemic.  I heard that Florida exceeded its previous records for infections and deaths.  And I heard that the reason that Virginia’s totals were so high yesterday is that there was data missing from the previous days which got counted in Friday’s data.  Regardless, having 2,000 more infections from what was reported on Thursday is frightening.

 

Here’s today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               19,783,872              728,535

US                       5,148,079              165,041

Virginia                  99,189                  2,322

Augusta County          275                         4

Something is not correct about the world’s number of infected as per worldometers.com.  The number today is 800,000 under the same statistic yesterday.  Perhaps they’ve entered the wrong values.  Still, the number of infections in the US is 53,000 higher than it was a day ago and the number of deaths is almost 1,000.  Virginia’s total infections are 1,300 higher than the previous day though the number of deaths is only five more.  Tomorrow Virginia will likely break the 100,000 mark in number of infections.

 

August 9, 2020

Today is the 112th consecutive day I’ve written about Life in the COVID-19 Era.  Fact is, little has changed.  I did a lot of thinking today about the way it used to be, including the way it was in Bramwell when I grew up, Morgantown when the girls were born, and here in the Staunton area over the past forty years.  Nothing was ever like this.  I long for those “good old days.”  I long for the day in which I won’t be suspicious of everyone I see in public wondering if they are a COVID carrier.   I long for when we could go into whatever restaurant or store we wanted to when we wanted to.  I long for ball games, church services, and large gatherings.  I long for seeing people without masks on.

 

People are getting better about masks.  Yesterday I took Jim to Harbor Freight.  Everyone I saw had a mask on.  Today Lynn and I went to Costco.  Everyone was wearing a mask.  We did a Kroger pickup, too.  Everyone I saw had on a mask.  Augusta County still has had 276 active cases but that’s much less than our neighbors to the north.

 

Not everyone elsewhere wears masks.  Today on Facebook I saw a picture of the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, North Dakota.  Tens of thousands of people were crammed into the streets of tiny Sturgis.  Masks were nowhere to be found.  The Facebook post said there should be lots of used motorcycles available in a month or so.  Behaviors like this are inexcusable.  As I’ve seen often on Facebook, you can’t fix stupid.

 

We were relieved to find out that Kay and family had made it to Topsail Beach last night around midnight.  It was a long day for them in the car.  She called us today and said the house they are renting is very clean and they felt safe on the beach as it was not crowded at all.  They’re going to be there for two weeks.  Of course, during that time both she and Andy will have to do some work via the internet.

 

For the past two Sundays, I’ve been attending and playing the piano for Sunday School.  There are sixteen of us who attend via Zoom.  I just take my laptop to the basement where our piano is and play a hymn.  Pastor Won is leading the study of the book of Matthew.

 

This afternoon I was able to cut our grass after we did our shopping at Costco and Kroger.  It had only been eight days since I cut last but we’ve had lots of rain since then so the grass was high again.  I’m ready for it to slow its growing down.

 

Staunton had a flash flood last evening.  Three to four inches of rain came down and flooded the downtown area.  Some businesses were devastated.  Many vehicles were destroyed.  Damage was especially bad in the wharf area.

 

Trump’s latest stunt is to enable his own version of economic stimulus via executive order.  It may sound good that he plans to continue sending the unemployed money, albeit $400 per week as opposed to the $600 they previously got.  And it may sound good that he put a moratorium on “payroll taxes.”  Payroll taxes are what fund Medicare and Social Security.  So his plan is to bludgeon two of the programs that Lynn and I depend on.  We paid into Social Security every year we worked.  His plan is to stop funding it.  This cannot happen.  I really don’t think Congress would let this happen but he has a way of doing what he wants to regardless of Congress and the Constitution.

 

ABC news tonight reported that nearly 100,000 kids tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July.  The Georgia high school that made it online with the pictures and videos of crowded hallways has now moved to fully virtual education as a dozen kids came down with the virus.  Ann’s kids go back to school in just nine days.  One man in Ohio infected 90 people in a church.  About 40% of the fatalities are said to be in nursing homes.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               19,982,142              732,783

US                       5,192,289              165,538

Virginia                100,086                  2,326

Augusta County          276                         4

 

 

Virginia has officially crossed the 100,000 mark although there have only been nine deaths in the past two days.   For the 5th straight day, over 1,000 Americans died to the virus.

 

After dinner, Ann’s family came over to try out the new Pergola swings and enjoy some ice cream treats.  We swang and talked for an hour and a half.  It was a very good visit.  They are such a good family!

 

Butch’s Ann got moved this evening to a Rehab Hospital.  That’s a good step in her recovery.  She’s definitely better physically.

 

August 10, 2020

Today I had my annual physical with Dr. LaGrua.  It went well; I feel blessed to be as healthy as I am.  My blood pressure was good as was my temperature.  The only thing that irritates me is that the other two doctors he has referred me to, Dr. Degene at Sentara Rockingham for my lung issues and Dr. Gillock at Augusta Health for my prostate enlargement, are at facilities whose reports do not come to him directly.  I had to show him the printout from my latest appointment at Dr. Gillock’s office about how stable my PSA has been.  I showed him on my phone the results from my December CT scan at RMH.  I wish that he, as my primary care physician, had ready access to all these reports.  At any rate, both results were good so there was nothing for him to do except make notes on my record.

 

The day went by very fast though I can’t give a long list of things I got done.  I worked on a few minor fixes around the house and went to the dump.  Lynn went to help her mother with lunch.  We ate a great dinner featuring tacos and got ready to welcome John and Ginny Bauman over to chat in the evening after dinner.

 

One of the things I was not successful in getting done was cutting the spare lengths off of the ten chains on the Pergola.  Josh’s dad, Allen, had some bolt cutters he let me borrow to cut the chain but they were short ones, only about 16″ long.  To cut these heavy-duty chains I’m going to need some of the long ones with plenty of lever distance.  I’m just not very strong.  Never in my life, even when I was young and playing lots of sports, have I been strong.   I did come up with some alternate ways of getting the spare chains out of the way of those who swing and that will have to do until I can get the huge bolt cutters.  I guess I could take each swing down and cut the chains with a hack saw or get Jim to bring back his angle grinder.  There’s no rush in getting this done.

 

I did get an e-mail from Nevin that he had replaced the hard drive and added RAM to my iMac.  He was so kind to bring it back to life.  It is eight years old–I bought it when I retired from Rockingham County Public Schools.  I’ll try to pick it up tomorrow. On my way, I hope to run by a restaurant I believe he likes and get him a gift card for his excellent work.

 

Dr. LaGrua told me today that he and his fellow health care workers are expecting COVID-19 to have an increase in infections this coming winter.  It does seem so much safer outside where there is plenty of air to circulate.  Indoors, as we’ll be in the winter, we end up all breathing the same air which will likely cause more transmission of the disease.

 

Here’s a good laugh.  Donald Trump thinks that it would be a good idea if his image were added to Mount Rushmore.  “Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!” Trump said in a tweet late Sunday.  The Republican Governor hopeful, Kristi Noem, in South Dakota said he told her when they first met that it was his dream to be added to the monument.  He also posted a photo from this year’s July Fourth weekend campaign-style appearance at Mount Rushmore — with his face carefully aligned with those of the other four of the nation’s most memorable presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.  What an egotistical jerk!

 

 

ABC news reports that nursing homes have accounted for 40% of the deaths due to COVID-19.  Nursing home residents have taken steps to try and halt the spread by closing doors to loved ones, eliminating group activities and implementing strict protocols to isolate themselves.  Nationally, coronavirus infections have not been leading to deaths as frequently as they did earlier in the outbreak, according to public health data. While July had by far the most cases, the deadliest month of the outbreak was in April. According to the COVID Tracking Project, in April there were nearly 54,000 deaths while in July, there were 25,295 deaths.  Of the total 162,000 coronavirus deaths, nursing home fatalities accounted for at least 63,000 of them.

 

I guess this is good news from ABC:  There were 46,395 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Sunday, bringing the nationwide total soaring past 5 million, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the first time in six days that the nation has recorded under 50,000 new cases. An additional 516 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported.  Sunday’s caseload is well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

 

On Channel-3 news, we were told that experts say that the coronavirus pandemic is not even close to being over.  COVID-19 deaths could hit 300,000 by December 1, a university report says.  As we all know, wearing masks would help stop this but many people still refuse.  Another expert said we should be doing 4,000,000 tests per day but we’re only doing 800,000 daily.  The number of cases is still rising in 21 states.  There were increases in deaths in 25 states.

 

ABC news tonight reported that 100,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 in just the past two weeks.  Yet many still believe it is safe for them to be arm-to-arm back in schools.  Dr. Fauci says we should try to get students back in the classroom but there should be universal mask-wearing.  He warned that if we do not keep social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent washing of hands, we could have a very bad fall and winter including both COVID-19 and the flu.  He is optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the beginning of 2021.  He contradicted Donald Trump by saying the virus is not going to disappear.

 

This evening John and Ginny Bauman came over to sit in our Pergola and chat. Lynn fixed wine slushies again.  It was a great night to talk–weather was superb with low humidity.  The stars came out brightly again.  Using the app Star Guide we could tell that Jupiter and Saturn were in clear sight.  They brought us a jar of honey from John’s bees.  They are good friends!

 

Here are the coronavirus numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               20,244,944              738,623

US                       5,251,446              166,192

Virginia                100,749                  2,327

Augusta County          280                         4

Virginia added 650 new cases but only one more death.  The US has slowed somewhat–59,000 new cases and 650 new deaths.

 

We learned tonight that Staunton City Schools has elected to go all virtual for the first semester.  So Augusta County Schools is the only local school system scheduled to have in-person learning, which starts in just six days.  Maybe they’ll reconsider…

 

August 11, 2020

Another full day, full of good and bad events.  Let me begin with the bad.  I was so excited when Nevin offered to fix my old iMac.  As I said yesterday, he had put a new hard drive in it and added RAM.  So today I first drove to a restaurant in Grottoes that I thought he liked and got him a $50 gift card.  Then I went to Rockingham County Public Schools and picked up the computer, leaving him the card.  Lynn also sent three cupcakes to him and two of her co-workers in the County Office.  I was elated.  So I drove home.  As I exited I-81, I came to the stop light at the end of the exit ramp.  I braked for the light and crash–the iMac tumbled from its back seat position and the screen cracked in hundreds of pieces.  I was sick.  I was angry at myself for not securing it better in the seat and very embarrassed to call Nevin back and tell him what had happened.  As would be expected from him, he was calm and suggested I bring it back again for him to put a new screen on.  The iMacs have a glass screen that is actually held on with strong magnets, he showed me.  So once again I am without this computer and dependent upon his kindness and skills to get it working again.

 

The good news is that all of the adapters I needed for the new MacBook Pro came in from Amazon.  So tonight I set up that computer.  I was able to restore all of the documents, pictures, and settings from the iMac to the MacBook Pro using a Time Machine backup I had from March.  Well, of course, the backup didn’t have any new documents or pictures between March and today but I had them stored on another external hard drive so I was able to get it set up in a matter of a few hours.

 

The MacBook Pro is a neat laptop.  It has a large hard drive and a nice retina screen.  I think I’m going to like it a lot.  Lynn will take over using this MacBook so we won’t have to fight over it anymore.

 

There’s some news on the local school situation.  Tonight the Waynesboro School Board voted to go entirely virtual for the start of school.  That means of the five area school divisions (Harrisonburg, Rockingham, Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro), only Augusta has elected for in-person classes.  Since our grandchildren are in Augusta County Schools, this is of great concern for us.  Lynn read someone’s post on Facebook which said Augusta might reconsider this week but keep in mind that school is scheduled to start in just six days.

 

With Joe Biden picking Kamala Harris as his vice presidential candidate today the field is all set for the November 3 election.  This household will be huge supporters of the Biden-Harris ticket.

 

Other news of interest on the COVID-19 front is that Russia has announced that they have a vaccine all ready for their population and have begun vaccinating people.  Many health experts here in America doubt that the Russian vaccine has gone through anywhere near the scrutiny that it should.  They certainly wanted to beat the US at this.

 

Lynn and I did a good bit of running around this afternoon.  We got tomatoes at Overlook Produce and then stopped at Smiley’s for an ice cream treat.  Then we went to Belk in Staunton for her to get some toiletry items and on to Waynesboro where we picked up an order for Ann at Target then grabbed supper at Chick-Fil-A.  We ate our dinner at a park in Waynesboro.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               20,505,144              744,691

US                       5,305,957              167,749

Virginia                101,745                  2,344

Augusta County          282                         4

 

August 12, 2020

I am having a good time getting to know my new MacBook Pro.  I’ve got it set up just the way I want it, I think.  Its 1 TB hard drive is already 80% full since I was able to restore all of the files that were on my iMac to this computer.  That is, it has every file I’ve created in the past twenty years on it plus all of our music and all of my 50,000+ pictures.  The only thing I don’t have room for is all of the videos I have created.  They are stored on a separate hard drive.  I’ve got this laptop syncing to our phones, my e-mail accounts, our messages, and am currently listening to our SiriusXM radio on it.  I’ve set up a backup drive so Time Machine will make an incremental backup whenever I tell it to.

 

I’ve also repurposed my old MacBook to make it easier for Lynn to use.  She’s getting the hand-me-down this time though the laptop is not that old.  When we get the iMac back from its broken screen we’ll have three working Macs in the house; for most of this pandemic we’ve only had one.

 

Lynn’s true character was on display again today.  As soon as she got up she began making muffins and cookies for Toni Sheets and her mother.  Toni is driving to California starting tomorrow to have surgery for her colon cancer.  That can’t be a trip you’d look forward to.  Lynn is just so thoughtful.  This afternoon she worked with Betsy on a dollhouse kit that is very intricate.  What a great grandmommy to spend time with her granddaughter.

 

While Betsy was working with Lynn on her dollhouse furniture, Freddie was dropped off at our house, too.  He and I rode our bikes at Clymore Elementary and Stewart Middle School.  It was probably the furtherest he has ever ridden his bike but he did well.  I wish he could ride every day.

 

On my May 29 post I noted that getting old had brought to me the condition of being thinned skin.  I mentioned this to Dr. LaGrua when I had my annual exam last week but he really didn’t have any suggestions on what to do.  Today, for example, I scratched my arm.  That resulted in blood flowing which I had to put a bandaid on.  Later I bumped my head coming in from the garage.  Now my forehead is bleeding a bit.  I’ll keep the bandaid companies in business.

 

WVU may still be playing football this fall.  Many conferences, including the Pac-12 and Big Ten, have decided to not have football until spring, if then, but the Big 12 Conference today announced that they are going ahead with the schedule.  We’ll see how that works out.  I know that, unlike previous seasons, Lynn and I won’t be in the stands when they play.

 

More studies show that COVID-19 has been disproportionally bad for blacks and Hispanics.  The reasons aren’t genetic but cultural and economic.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

                              Infected                   Died

World               20,760,468              751,033

US                       5,354,303              168,948

Virginia                102,521                  2,352

Augusta County          287                         4

 

On ABC News tonight, 24 states are still seeing deaths on the rise due to coronavirus.  The CDC said this fall could be the worst we’ve ever seen especially if masks aren’t worn universally.  Where some high schools have reopened, 35 or more students have now become infected.  A real battle is developing in some areas where teachers don’t want to go back in the classroom but some parents and students are insisting on in-person education.  It will be very interesting to see what the Augusta County Board of Education decides when they meet tomorrow night.

 

Tonight we had another family Zoom session.  As we were about to get started it poured down the rain so Ann’s family couldn’t join in as they always Zoom outside.  But Jim and boys plus Kay’s family and Lynn and I had a good 45 minutes together.  It ended as a dance party with all of the kids jamming!  I loved it.

 

August 13, 2020

From ABC News today:  There were 55,910 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Wednesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  An additional 1,504 coronavirus-related deaths were also reported — a jump of more than 400 from the previous day.  It’s the first time in four days that the nation has recorded over 50,000 new cases. But Wednesday’s caseload is still well below the record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.

 

My sister-in-law Ann took a really bad turn for the worse this morning.  Apparently she fell yesterday in the rehab hospital and developed a subdural hematoma from the fall.  The blood accumulated inside her skull.  She was rushed to a nearby hospital.  A hole in her skull was drilled to relieve the pressure and that only partially worked so she underwent surgery this morning.  She is now out of surgery but having major issues still.  It just doesn’t sound good.  She has been totally unresponsive since this started.  Poor Butch!   Poor Ann!

 

Today I’ve tried to do something about the ceiling issue in our living room.  I called several roofers to see if I could get their take on how the leaks came into our ceiling and estimates on getting the problem remedied.  I confess I’ve felt guilty about worrying so much about the darned ceiling when my brother has worries much, much more important than this.

 

The first company I called, Valley Roofing, is apparently so busy that they couldn’t even make an appointment to come here until five weeks from now.  I went ahead and made the appointment but told them I was going to try to find another business to come and might end up cancelling that appointment.  I also called Corbin Roofing, a company in Mount Sidney though I only got an answering machine there so I left my information.  The next call I made was to Durie Home Improvements, a roofing contractor in Verona.  Jimmy Durie and his son, Skylar I believe, came.  I showed them the spot on the ceiling in the living room and where it had leaked from the window when we had our flash flooding on August 6.

 

Though it was raining a little, both got on our roof and proceeded to find some issues which they promptly fixed.  He said he was confident that he had fixed the issues and charged $275.  I certainly hope he is right—he said he would guarantee his work for a year.  That beats the heck out of replacing the entire roof!  It is supposed to rain a lot over the next three days so it won’t take long to see if he was right.

 

He did point out that the window frame outside Kay’s bedroom was rotted and needed to be replaced.  I’d been talking to Lynn about getting all of our windows replaced sometime so I called PWD Windows and requested that they come by and give us a quote to do so.  They are to call me back and set up an appointment.  This project will cost us some money but I believe it will make our home much more attractive and add to its value.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,052,336              752,380

US                       5,411,602              170,271

Virginia                103,622                  2,363

Augusta County          296                         4

Another thousand Virginians infected and eleven more dead.

 

The Augusta County School Board met tonight.  We tuned in to part of the meeting online.  We heard many, many parents and even a few teachers who were pushing to have kids put back in school and, in some cases, five days per week.  We heard a couple of teachers ask for school opening to be all virtual or at least delayed.  In fact, the only speakers who advocated for all virtual or delayed opening were teachers.  Earlier this summer, Augusta County has offered students a choice in selecting virtual or in-person learning; 20% chose virtual and 80% chose in-person.  Ann’s family reluctantly chose in-person because both she and Josh will be working full time.  The percent of those who spoke at the School Board meeting in favor of in-person was even higher than the 80% who chose this option earlier in the summer.  Lynn pointed out that the School Board probably made up their minds long before this meeting so having the long line of speakers was really a waste of time.  As we were listening to the meeting on the phone, others were commenting on-line.  For example, one person wrote that few speakers had on masks yet many of the speakers’ mouths were bumping right into the microphone.

 

The Board also discussed its mask policy.  The policy prior to the meeting was that students could remove their masks if they were socially distant in the classroom.  That is, when they were seated they could remove their masks.  The Superintendent brought up this issue and said that new information had been received from the CDC regarding the wearing of masks.  The CDC now recommends that masks be worn by all staff and students at all time.  He recommended that the policy be changed to require cloth masks to be worn all day by everyone with some breaks scheduled during the day.  The Board voted unanimously to adopt this amended policy.  Furthermore, the Board agreed that they would provide masks for students though students could wear ones of their own.

 

The Superintendent also recommended that the start of school for in-person instruction be moved from August 18 to September 1.  Virtual students were originally scheduled to begin on September 8.  His recommendation moves the in-person group to the same start date and gives them two more weeks of data to digest.  He mentioned that there would be a significant staffing issue if cases of infection happened, given the required 14 day quarantine period for all those in contact with the infected person.  He did say that at some time the Board may have to consider a 100% virtual setting in the future.  He also said that the new face mask policy may cause more students to elect the virtual option.  The Board voted unanimously to approve his recommendation.  This was somewhat of a surprise because many of the Board members kept saying that they were “ready to get back to school.”  So we’ll be revisiting this issue again in two weeks!

 

August 14, 2020

Listening to the Augusta County School Board meeting last night just reinforced how polarized we’ve become about the re-opening of school.  One Board member, a podiatrist, did not wear a mask himself and spoke about how he’d be glad to send his grandchildren back to school instantly.  Speakers used the “it’s just like the flu” argument and talked about how they had to go back to work themselves.  How many of them went back to work in a closed environment with hundreds of different people like a school house?  One nurse said she had to go back to work so her kids should have to go back to school.  I’ll bet she doesn’t just wear a cloth mask at her job.  Plus, she is only around one person at a time.  A teacher has many kids in a class when we have in-person learning.  One lady proudly announced herself as an “anti-vaxer.”   When the Superintendent explained that one positive case would mean 14 day quarantines for teachers and students then questioned where would the substitutes come from, several Board members said they would substitute.  Yes, like seven subs would suffice in a school division of more than 10,000 students.

 

Butch is having an awful time right now.  Ann’s vital signs are OK but she is still 100% unresponsive.  He wrote last night on the “Ann’s Army” blog that thirteen of us share that “I am very clear that this is not the life Ann would want, but not so clear that I have the guts to fulfill her wishes, should it come to that.  I so much need all of your support over the next several days.”  He has cared for Ann like a parent would care for a newborn.  No one would second guess any decision he makes because no one else would have put forth the effort he has made to help her get back to normal, something which seems to be increasingly unlikely, if not impossible, now.

 

It’s too bad that Lynn’s foot is broken.  The weather has been very nice for walking compared to when we were doing our twice-a-day hikes.  The highs for the next week are in the high 70’s and low 80’s.  There’s rain forecast but probably something we could walk around if we were still walking.  I just don’t have the ambition to walk by myself and will be very happy when my walking partner is back.

 

We went to Harrisonburg today for a few tasks.  First, I went into Costco and got some items requested for Central’s Food Pantry.  For example, I got two 50 lb bags of sugar.  This is why Lynn couldn’t do it.  Her arm is hurting too much.  After Costco we went to Acme Stove Company in Harrisonburg because Lynn is considering buying a gas fire pit for the Pergola.  There were two we were shown; one was $829 and the other was $720.  Actually I think she likes the cheaper one better.  But we didn’t order it yet.  Maybe later.  Finally we went to the Rockingham County School Board Office to pick up some papers Lynn needs for next week but they weren’t ready.

 

I managed to get the grass cut after dinner.  It had only been five days since I mowed last yet the grass was very high.  The yard doesn’t look so hot because of all the clumps of grass despite the short interval between cuts.  I’m getting tired of cutting!  For the past several years Henry and/or Gus has mowed my grass but this summer I’ve done it myself.  I don’t mind riding but the weed whacking and trimming is not one of my favorite activities.

 

I almost forgot to post today’s writing.  Here are the numbers from early on Saturday morning:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,387,947              764,112

US                       5,478,009              171,568

Virginia                104,838                  2,370

Augusta County          300                         4

 

August 15, 2020

One corner of our kitchen counter, beside the refrigerator, has been a mess lately.  Lynn has lots of papers, folders, and notebooks there but the major clutter has come the charging cords for Lynn’s laptop, our two iPads, and two iPhones.  Plus, the new MacBook Pro has needed a place to charge nightly so I’ve been taking it downstairs and that was already getting old.  So today I decided to spend the morning building a small charging rack for all of our technology.  This is such a rare happening for me—I generally don’t have the skills to attempt building much of anything.  But I found some shelving boards which had originally been in a closet upstairs that hadn’t been used in many years plus some oak boards which made for decent posts and made a rack that is 12” high with two shelves 4” apart.  I used the miter saw from Jim and my drill press plus other tools.  It turned out well, given my skill set, but others may describe it as middle school shop work.  The two MacBooks fit nicely on the two lower shelves and the iPads lay on top.  The iPhones can simply lay on top of the iPads to charge.  I even moved our Amazon Echo Dot to the shelf and used some cord binders to neaten up the cables.  Lynn approved it (a major step) so now I’ll have to paint it sometime.

 

This was an ugly, rainy Saturday so I couldn’t do any outside work.  In fact, the only time I went outside all day was to get the mail.  Ugh!  The rain did prompt me to double-check our roof issues to see if there were leaks.  Fortunately, I did not find any.

 

It is so unfortunate what my brother is going through.  Basically he is having to wait to see if Ann makes any improvement at all over the next few days.   She is totally unresponsive at the moment and breathing by a tube.  Her doctor told Butch that the next three or four days are crucial; if she is going to make any improvement there would need to be some evidence showing by then.  The issue is that if she doesn’t, he’ll have to make a decision on the next step.  So tough!

 

Lynn’s mother has her 20th great-grandchild now.  Our niece Jenny gave birth to her third child and first daughter, Sandra Jane, yesterday.  They are doing well.  Lynn helped her mom with lunch today and gave her the good news.  I know that brightened Mrs. Hanger’s day.

 

Butch had texted on his group chat that a person he had met while both were waiting on visiting hours to start at the hospital this week offered to him a shirt which was lettered “Where there’s a hill, there’s a way.”  Lynn picked up on the idea, purchased a bicycle pattern for her Cricut machine for $0.99, and soon had made a shirt like this.  She was exceptionally fast in getting this entire project done.  Of course, she is very talented.  She told him not to tell any intellectual property lawyer he knew that she had stolen the idea.  (Kay, of course, is an intellectual property lawyer and is on the group chat with everyone.)

 

Lynn and I did some research on the hexagonal gas fire pit she is interested in purchasing.  We found the same model on several websites but none had it any cheaper.  Many did say that it was currently out of stock, though, so perhaps we couldn’t get it even if we decided to go ahead with it.

 

ABC news tonight was same old, same old.  Like the pandemic, the debate about opening school rages on.  The CDC says as many as 45% of child cases are asymptomatic, meaning they can spread it unknowingly.  Dr. Fauci has said that checking students’ temperatures is basically a waste of time.  As has been the case every night, there were several stories of schools opening back up for in-person classes only to find that several people were infected and multiples more forced to quarantine.  One division had to call of classes because over 100 teachers refused to come back.  The number of COVID-19 cases is tapering off nationally but the number of deaths is still sky-high.  There have been more than 32,000 deaths in the last four weeks.  Colleges are starting back now and the news showed multiple incidents of large on-campus parties.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,581,035              767,739

US                       5,526,045              172,537

Virginia                105,750                  2,381

Augusta County          306                         4

 

August 16, 2020

After a night of more rain the skies finally decided to back off a bit today.  The same farmers who were crying about drought conditions a month ago are probably whining now about too much rain.  Living in farm country, I’ve learned that there is no weather that pleases farmers.  For me, I am never happy with rain.  I guess our well needs it but besides that I’ve got no need for it.  If the flowers and grass don’t grow, oh well!

 

From ABC news today:  The CDC has issued guidance to inform pediatric healthcare providers and said that while it is unclear whether children are as susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 compared with adults and whether they can transmit the virus as effectively as adults, recent evidence suggests that children likely have the same or higher viral loads compared with adults and that children can spread the virus effectively in households and camp settings.

 

I think they left out the word “schools” in that last sentence.

 

As usual, Lynn went to help her mom with lunch today.  Mrs. Hanger wasn’t doing very well.  She was given oxycodone which makes her loopy.  Lynn’s sister Kay reported that dinner was no better.

 

I think I’ve been gaining weight just because our dinners have been so good I’ve been overeating.  Tonight, for example, Lynn fixed a delicious potato salad and we had BLT sandwiches with fresh tomatoes and newly baked bread.  Yum!  We haven’t purchased a loaf of store-made bread since the pandemic started, I believe.  Lynn’s sourdough bread is so good.

 

The news from my brother today is more of the same.  He got to visit Ann but she was only able to move her toes.  No other part of her body moved.  What a tough life for both of them right now.

 

Virginia had no reported deaths in today’s statistics.  That’s good news though there were over 900 new cases.  Here are the stats:

                              Infected                   Died

World               21,792,385              772,244

US                       5,564,078              173,072

Virginia                106,687                  2,381

Augusta County          310                         4

 

Tonight we had our monthly covenant group meeting at Tom and Connie Davis’ house in Staunton.  There were eight of us there:  John & Ginny Bauman,  John & Eileen Myers, Tom & Connie, and Lynn & me.  We’re discussing the book, The Language of God, by Francis Collins.  We all get along and enjoy each other’s company.  It was a good night.

 

August 17, 2020

On ABC news this morning:  COVID-19 cases among children have increased.  7.3% of all positive cases are children under 18.  There were under 1,000 deaths in the US for the first time in seven days.  There were over 40,000 new cases yesterday but that is much lower than the 77,000 record number of cases reported in a 24 hour period.  So the country is doing better, say the experts, though testing is still down.   The CDC is pushing for everyone to get an influenza vaccination this year so we won’t have two pandemics going on at once.

 

Today was a busy day for me.  It began with counting at Central in the morning.  It didn’t take long for Sam Richardson and me to count, though, since there were only a handful of envelopes.  Then I came home and weed-whacked for an hour.  Then I headed to the Blue Ridge Food Bank to pick up our weekly load and took it to Central.  Then I went to Lowe’s to pick up an order I had placed online earlier.  When I got back I loaded up the truck with trash, both at home and at Ann’s.  Just as I got through with all that Lynn called and asked me to try to get our hamburgers grilled as soon possible so we could get to her mother’s soon thereafter.  It all fell into place and we topped the day off with a trip to Smiley’s for ice cream.

 

Lynn worked this afternoon for Rockingham County Public Schools, training two new ELL teachers.  She enjoyed that a lot.

 

I have two in-laws who are not doing well tonight.  Mrs. Hanger is OK, but the hospice nurse is now scheduled to visit her daily as she is fairly weak.  Her mind is still good at 101 but her body is slipping, I’m afraid.  Sister-in-law Ann is really struggling.  She is basically unresponsive though she has moved her toes a little.

 

UNC-Chapel Hill announced that after just one week of school they are canceling in-person classes.  Too many students wouldn’t wear their masks or keep socially distant.

Today’s COVID-19 statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,033,625              776,774

US                       5,610,106              173,656

Virginia                107,421                  2,385

Augusta County          313                         4

 

Virginia had about 750 new cases in the past 24 hours and 4 new deaths.  Augusta County’s numbers of those infected keeps rising but, thankfully, not the number who have died.

 

Tonight is the first night of the unconventional Democratic Convention.  It doesn’t start on TV until 10:00.  I hope I can stay awake for it but I somewhat doubt it.  I did not sleep well last night.

 

August 18, 2020

As expected, I slept through the Democratic Convention though I caught highlights of it on this morning’s news.  Watching it is somewhat like watching WVU football; I’m a big fan and cheer for the outcome in my favor.  I do honestly believe, though, that Donald Trump has been terrible for America and needs to go.  I didn’t like Bush, didn’t like Reagan, but didn’t hate either of them.  This guy I hate.  He is an egotistical, self-serving, lying jerk.  I actually thought of other descriptors but am trying to keep this post PG-13.

 

Ann is back at work now.  Her kids stay by themselves for the most part but today I brought Freddie and Betsy over in the afternoon.  Lynn made cookies with them and helped Betsy with her doll house kit.  I took both kids on a bike ride down to Middle River, about 1.5 miles from our house.  I quickly found out that I’m getting out of shape since my walking has stopped with Lynn’s injury.  It was an easy ride down but we had to push most of the way back since it was uphill.  I also watched Freddie play on our Wii for a while.  Our investment in Wii many years ago has paid off over and over.

 

Today was a very pleasant day outside.  I did some chores in the morning like spraying the weeds around the tennis court and cutting down some growth at the front corner of our yard where earlier this year I had cut down some small trees.

 

Butch does a fine job of keeping us up to date on Ann’s condition.  Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of change.  During the day, he and her “army” of texters share dozens of texts.

 

From ABC news today:

The U.S. attempt to return children to the classroom this fall has turned into a slow-motion train wreck, with at least 2,400 students and staff either infected with COVID-19 or self-isolating because of exposure, and the vast majority of large school districts opting to go online this summer amid rising cases of the virus.

President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have mostly waved off the situation unraveling this week in states like Georgia, Alabama, Indiana and Tennessee, where schools opened their doors after a months-long hiatus due to the pandemic — only to quickly backtrack as soon as infections popped back up.

There’s no federal standard on when it’s considered safe to reopen schools, although the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released various documents suggesting “phased” reopenings and advising that kids and staff wear masks and keep students six feet apart.

As a result, most schools have become hyper-focused on their own local virus data, with some looking to the World Health Organization’s recommendation that fewer than 5% of an area’s daily tests must turn out positive for 14 days before schools in the area can reopen. As of Friday, only 17 states meet that criteria, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.

Here are today’s numbers:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,292,673              783,348

US                       5,653,523              174,951

Virginia                108,282                  2,396

Augusta County          315                         4

Virginia’s infected rose by 800 and deaths by 11.

 

I’m going to try to see some of the Democratic Convention tonight if I can stay awake….

 

August 19, 2020

Once again I didn’t make it to hear any of the convention.  I slept well during it but not so well from 2:30 – 4:30 when we had loud thunderstorms and rain.  This is been an exceptionally rainy August.  I’m fairly sure we’ve had at least twice the expected rainfall for the month and we still have 12 more days left.

 

I’ve made a list of projects I want to get done.  Most are outside which means I can’t get them done in wet weather.  Yuk!  It did dry off enough for me to cut grass today.  It had only been five days since I last cut but it was high.  This is the result of all the rain we’ve been getting.

 

I also walked today for just the third time since Lynn’s injury.  I did our standard 2.8 mile hike in the neighborhood.  Lynn has hosting her friend Pat Collins on the Pergola while I walked.  Combined with the other walking I did today around the yard I exceeded the 10,000 step mark for the first time in ages.  In just three weeks I’ve gone from walking for two hours and at least six miles daily to almost no walking.  I’m glad to have gotten today’s hike done.

 

We had another banner dinner tonight.  We fixed tacos and had leftover tomato and dressing casserole that Lynn made yesterday.  Superb eating!

 

The media shower associated with this election is almost humorous.  I get e-mails and texts every day from people like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, etc.  At least that’s who is on the “From” line.  Oh, most of them ask for money, too.  You’d think they’d learn that I am very supportive with my thoughts and language but not with my pocketbook.

 

Ann is having a MRI to see how much brain activity there is.  The results of this will be significant for Butch’s next steps.  He’s been a super supportive husband; no one could do more for a stroke victim than he’s done for her.  I’m just afraid that her body just is not going to recover.

 

Regarding coronavirus, ABC news tonight reported that at least 22 states reported outbreaks of COVID-19 on college campuses though Virginia is not in that list (yet!).  Locally, students are coming back at James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University, and Bridgewater College.  Teachers in many states are balking at coming back to work.  New York teachers are threatening to go on strike.  Florida just became the 5th state with more than 10,000 deaths due to COVID-19.  Dr. Fauci said children ages 10-19 can transmit to adults as easily as adults transmit to adults.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

                              Infected                   Died

World               22,524,774              789,101

US                       5,694,181              176,147

Virginia                109,019                  2,410

Augusta County          323                         4

 

One statistic I’ve not been reporting is the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County.  Today’s “dashboard” from the Virginia Department of Health states that there are now 17 hospitalizations currently in Augusta County.  That’s much higher than I’ve seen in the past.

 

Tonight was our regularly scheduled family Zoom meeting.  However, all the kids and their families were either too busy or forgot so we didn’t get together.  Bummer.  Another time…

 

August 20, 2020

Four months ago, April 20, I started this blog.  I have written every day about our life in the COVID-19 era.  Many of my writings have been repetitive because things have not changed that much since April 20.  We still cannot gather together, eat out, go to movies, attend ball games, travel on airplanes, trust public restrooms, shop without worries, and even fill up our cars with gas without quickly squirting Purell on our hands.  We can’t hug our loved ones, shake hands with our friends, worship at our church, ride in the same vehicle as non-family, enjoy Barter Theatre shows, and go to our grandchildren’s schools.  We can’t even attend funerals.  We’ve canceled multiple vacations and get-aways.  We visit and meet with others via Zoom or Facetime instead of in-person.  We carefully plan trips to the grocery store or post office.  We avoid many stores we used to visit frequently.  Worst of all, there is no relief in sight.  I suspect I’ll be writing the same sentences four months from now.  How sad.

 

I’ve posted daily pandemic numbers.  These numbers show just how pervasive COVID-19 has wormed into our world and locality.  Compare these two sets, one on April 20 and the other last evening:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World                 2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                    8,990                     300

Augusta County            22                         0

 

August 19            Infected                   Died

World               22,524,774              789,101

US                       5,694,181              176,147

Virginia                109,019                  2,410

Augusta County          323                         4

 

In many ways, we’ve been the lucky ones during this era.  Our income has not decreased.  Our children have not lost their jobs.  Our health and our immediate family’s health have been excellent.  We’ve gotten along well and enjoyed our companionship even more than ever.  Meanwhile, we’ve been pinned to our home and not visited my brother during the toughest time of his life.  Visits with friends have happened but always at a minimum of six feet distance.

 

Our house is cleaner and better organized.  Our Pergola is up and ready for company.  Before Lynn’s broken foot we were in tip top shape.  We are more in tune with local and national news than ever.  But make no mistake about it, we are not better off.  This is a miserable time, perhaps the worst year I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve had some bad ones.  We miss and long for life the way it was in early 2020.

 

Things will get back that way only when there is a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 and when there are better treatments for those who are infected by it.  Today’s news, like most morning’s, had no mention of either.  Yes, there have been claims of vaccines being developed and several are said to be in Phase 3 of testing.  But given the political nature of life in the Trump era, I am not sure how much good news is exaggerated.  Will we really have an effective vaccine before next April 20?  Will I finally stop this blog knowing that our lives are safe again?  Who knows…

 

We had the Gutshall kids most of the day today.  Gus, Betsy, and Freddie were dropped off here at 9:00.  I picked up Henry at the Fort Defiance High School gym at 11:15 after he shot basketball there for a while.  Ann picked the four up around 4:30.  During the morning, I took Betsy and Freddie to Natural Chimneys Regional Park where we rode our bicycles for about an hour.  The park has almost no traffic, level roads, and plenty of shade.

 

I fixed lunch for the crew (my specialties:  boxed mac & cheese, applesauce, and potato chips) then I went to Central UMC while Lynn took over watching the kids.  She helped Freddie and Betsy make shirts on them each with a bicycle graphic and a saying below.  At Central I worked with the church bookkeeper to resolve some issues with the reports she had sent me for the church’s finances in July.  I am not skilled at QuickBooks and perhaps should become so if I’m going to continue to help out.

 

ABC news had a story about teachers remaining in the classroom despite being exposed to COVID-19.  New guidance from President Donald Trump’s administration that declares teachers to be “critical infrastructure workers” could give the green light to exempting teachers from quarantine requirements after being exposed to COVID-19 and instead send them back into the classroom.  Keeping teachers without symptoms in the classroom, as a handful of school districts in Tennessee and Georgia have already said they may do, raises the risk that they will spread the respiratory illness to students and fellow employees. Multiple teachers can be required by public health agencies to quarantine for 14 days during an outbreak, which can stretch a district’s ability to keep providing in-person instruction.  It will be interesting to see how Virginia’s school divisions react to this designation.

 

Another ABC news story is that clinical data from a new study shows that children play are larger role in the community spread of the novel coronavirus than previously thought.

The study, which was published Thursday in The Journal of Pediatrics, investigated 192 pediatric patients aged 22 and younger, of which 49 tested positive for COVID-19 and an additional 18 had late-onset, coronavirus-related illness. Researchers found that the infected children carried a significantly higher level of virus in their airways — particularly in the first two days of infection — than adults who were hospitalized in intensive care for COVID-19.  The CDC says that schools should only reopen if the positive test rate is less than 5% in the locality.  According to some data I found from Johns Hopkins University, I believe Virginia’s positive test rate is currently around 5.4%.  Georgia’s is over 11%.  Florida’s is over 15%.  West Virginia’s is 2.3%.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 20            Infected                   Died

World               22,804,478              795,674

US                       5,740,359              177,223

Virginia                109,882                  2,427

Augusta County          327                         4

 

After another good taco dinner tonight and the news we went to Smiley’s.  This week they have Lynn’s absolute favorite, Death by Chocolate, as one of the flavors of the week.  We had hundreds of reward points on our account so we were able to pick up a quart of it for her to eat at her leisure.  Of course, for dessert tonight I had a waffle cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.

 

August 21, 2020

I’m starting today’s blog with the most sobering of news.  Sister-in-law Ann had the MRI last evening.  Butch wrote “The MRI shows that Ann has had a stroke in her brain stem.  That’s why she’s not waking up.  The doctor told me to take my time coming back to Columbus, that they would give her a few more days, but it is very highly unlikely that she could wake up.” Throughout the day Lynn and I have been texting with Butch who has been both very emotional yet quite in touch with the situation.  It is so fortunate that Ann had an Advanced Medical Directive so her wishes can be carried out.  Butch wrote “Assuming (in the absence of another miracle this weekend) that things continue the way they’re heading, Ann wanted no funeral and to be cremated.  I’m imagining a family and friend memorial service some time in the future (when it’s safer to travel).  Ashes will keep.”

 

I feel very badly that I can offer no help except for an occasional text message.  I did offer to come to Ohio but he said that while he would appreciate my coming he would worry about the COVID-19 risks I’d have by coming.  Plus, Lynn couldn’t go at the moment because her mother is slipping even more nowadays.  I think we’ll both just wait a few days and see what happens next.

 

This is certainly not a good time of my life.  Pandemic.  Two in-laws at the end of their lives.  I know I’ve got a million things to be thankful of but today these three items are heavy on my mind.

 

Lynn and I had a very efficient morning.  On our way to Harrisonburg we stopped at the Gutshall’s to drop off a few items that had been left at our house.  We went to the Rockingham County School Board Office where Lynn dropped off a mileage sheet and I picked up my repaired iMac.  Then we went to Costco where we got several items of need.  On our way home we stopped at Ann and Wes Ford’s house where they gave us a box of fresh vegetables.  Yum!  Their generosity is greatly appreciated.  We got home in time for Lynn to help her mother with lunch.

 

I spent the majority of the rest of the day getting reacquainted with an old friend.  My iMac is a vintage 2011 model and served me well until March of this year when its hard drive died.  I’ve written about how wonderful it was for Nevin Diener to offer to replace the hard drive, which he did, only to have the computer tumble over on my ride home and shatter its screen.  Nevin repaired the screen over the past week and now it is back ready to go.  Nevin also added more RAM and a larger hard drive so it is probably better than ever.

 

I spent several hours restoring files and settings to it, careful to not reinstall applications that were intended for its earlier operating system or applications for which I no longer had licenses.  And I had to copy my 50,000+ pictures and every document I’ve created on a computer in the past two decades to its hard drive.  As of this evening it is finally 99.9% done.

 

Lynn and I decided to buy our dinner out tonight.  Chicano Boys is one of our favorite local restaurants but it had been closed for the past two weeks after Staunton was hit by a flash flood which did considerable damage to the restaurant.  So we celebrated their reopening by picking up some carnita salads and supreme potatoes from there.  Yum!

 

Another event that happened today was a local contractor came by and measured our windows to give us a quote on replacing them.  The windows in this house are over 50 years old.  The old weight systems are broken so I’ve had to screw most of the upper windows so they can’t be opened for fear that they would fall and crush someone’s fingers.  Hopefully the quote won’t be too high.  If we were to get them replaced I know it would increase the value and appearance of this house.

 

Today’s Staunton Leader newspaper had an interesting article about COVID-19 treatment being studied at the University of Virginia.  Here is an excerpt:

 

Dr. Bill Petri feels encouraged. A professor of epidemiology and medicine and infectious disease specialist at University of Virginia’s Health System, he and his team have been focused on one thing since last March — conquering COVID-19.  In the big scope of things, he says they are much better off today with COVID-19 treatment than they were just two months ago.

Come November, Petri expects an antibody treatment now in the last phase of clinical trials that is proving to be effective in preventing the virus from attaching to a human cell will be available to the public by late Fall.  A virus has to get into a human cell to replicate, and this antibody treatment prevents the virus from getting in the cell. Even if one of your family members is positive, this treatment will prevent you from getting it, he says. And the hope is it will also lessen the severity of the illness if you are already positive. Phase III trials for this antibody treatment begin next week. As part of a big team effort, UVA is one of 70 sites that together are conducting the study. Successful completion will allow the biotechnology company Regeneron to apply to the FDA to use the “anti-Spike antibodies” for treatment and prevention of COVID-19.  If all goes as Petri anticipates, the treatment will be available for people in the Valley by Thanksgiving.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

August 21            Infected                   Died

World               23,098,181              802,365

US                       5,796,727              179,200

Virginia                110,860                  2,436

Augusta County          335                         4

 

Almost 2,000 more deaths in the US in 24 hours.  Another thousand cases in Virginia.

 

August 22, 2020

Today I put the finishing touches on getting my iMac back up and running.  I really enjoy that huge 27” screen especially when it is showing my favorite pictures which I’ve set the screen saver to do.

 

We’ve kept up our active text with Butch throughout the day again.  It is hard to lift his spirits from afar but I do think he is on top of things.  Ann’s condition is unchanged and that’s not good.  He is going back to Columbus in a couple of days and will see that her wishes are carried out.  In the meantime, she is going to be under hospice care, receiving medicines to make sure she is not in pain.  So sad.

 

Today was another day of thunderstorms.  Though we didn’t get too much rain here, we saw pictures on Facebook where Staunton was flooded again.  What wacky weather!

 

I did manage to get three jobs done today that I’m glad to have behind me.  First, I put my new cart from Jim on back of my lawnmower and raked then picked up grass in the front and back yards.  I don’t know why, but raking grass is one job I detest.  Surely there are worse jobs but that one I just do not like doing.  At least I got the grass up where it is most obvious to the viewer.  I put it in a trash can to be taken to the dump the next time I go.  Then, I got the excess on the chains holding the swings up in the Pergola cut off.  This was not an easy task.  First, I disconnected each swing onto my lawnmower cart.  Then I drove the mower to the driveway.  Lynn helped me from there—this way she was always on level ground.  I put the swings near my vise.  I counted six links up from where they were hung on the carabiner, locked the sixth link in my vise, and used a hack saw to cut the chain.  I had to do this for all five swings which made ten cuts through heavy duty chain.  After I cut the chain and separated the excess from the remaining chains connecting the swing, I reloaded the swing back on my cart and towed it back to the Pergola and hung it back.  Thankfully all of this is behind me now.  The third job I did involved the little charging stand I had built for our kitchen to hold the two laptops, two iPads, and two iPhones.  I sunk all the screws below the surface, puttied over each, then painted the stand using the same paint that I had used last year when I painted the kitchen trim.  I’ll let it dry until morning then bring it back in.  It should look good.

 

I missed the national news today so I don’t know what’s going on with COVID-19 today.  Probably same old, same old.  Here are today’s statistics:

August 22            Infected                   Died

World               23,359,254              807,688

US                       5,840,433              180,153

Virginia                112,072                  2,443

Augusta County          341                         4

 

Another thousand Americans dead and over a thousand Virginians infected.  Perhaps doctors are learning ways of keeping fewer people from dying from it but obviously there are still many fatalities from COVID-19.

 

August 23, 2020

Butch made his last trip back to Columbus today.  The doctors there told him that Ann would probably never wake up; she would spend the rest of her life in a coma, requiring 24 hour care.  He went there to, as he said it, insure that her wishes were carried out.  So this afternoon, in his presence, the doctors removed her breathing tube.  He was told that it would take up to 24 hours for her to die.  How heart wrenching this has been for him and all of the family!  He has texted over and over today on his “Ann’s Army” group chat.  Everyone is 100% supportive of him and is pleased that Ann is on medicines which guarantee that she was not in pain.  He sat in her room all day.  I cannot imagine what all went through his head.

 

I have thought how at least he was able to spend her last hours with her compared to thousands who died of COVID-19 quarantined from their loved ones.  This is some solace.

 

He has repeatedly told us to not come yet.  When she dies, she will be cremated and he will have a service later in the year for her.  We would have trouble leaving for any length of time now because Lynn’s mother is still showing no improvement.  Lynn helped her mom with lunch today and said she was groggy the whole time.

 

I joined our weekly Sunday School Zoom session again today.  Won always asks me to play a hymn on the piano so I always pick one in advance and practice it before 11:00.

 

I also put a second coat of paint on the charging stand I had built for our electronic devices.  It looks much better now.

 

We ate an early dinner tonight.  Lynn had made her signature macaroni casserole.  She also made a tasty salad and we had some corn left over she had made which included green chilies and cream cheese.  Everything was delicious.

 

I believe we will be watching Betsy and Freddie and perhaps one or more of their older brothers three days during the coming week since Ann and Josh are both back to work on-site.  They are going to Josh’s parents Wednesday and Friday.  Knowing we would be fixing lunch and perhaps breakfast for them, we ordered some extra groceries from Kroger today since Kroger has curbside pickup.  Our pickup was at 6:00; that’s why we ate dinner early.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 23            Infected                   Died

World               23,545,428              811,434

US                       5,869,507              180,555

Virginia                112,966                  2,467

Augusta County          345                         4

 

The number of new cases in the US was much lower than usual, around 29,000.  Likewise, the number of US deaths was around 400, lower than it has been.  Virginia’s numbers seemed about the same as usual—around 900 new cases and 24 additional deaths.

 

It was a pleasant evening so Lynn and I spent some time swinging on the Pergola swings.  It was very relaxing.

 

August 24, 2020

The news today said “The Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday that it has authorized the use of blood plasma from patients who have recovered from Covid-19 as a treatment for the disease.  So-called convalescent plasma is among a host of potential therapeutics that have been undergoing testing in clinical trials. The hope is that infusions of antibody-rich plasma from those who have recovered from Covid-19 can be injected into ill patients, kickstarting their immune system and allowing them to fight off the virus until they can generate their own antibodies.”  But is this something to really celebrate?  The fact is, Donald Trump pressured the FDA to make this Emergency Use Authorization just in time for the Republican Convention.  At a White House news conference he said “Today’s action will dramatically expand access to this treatment.” He called the EUA a “truly historic announcement” and said that convalescent plasma has been proven to reduce mortality by 35%, which he called a “tremendous number.”  However, the fine print from the FDA said this treatment meets the ‘may be effective’ criteria for issuance of an EUA.  “Adequate and well-controlled randomized trials remain nonetheless necessary for a definitive demonstration of efficacy and to determine the optimal product attributes and the appropriate patient populations for its use.”  Another health expert from the Scripps Research Translational Institute said it was “outrageous” to claim a 35% improved survival.  “There’s no evidence to support any survival benefit,” he wrote.

 

Butch has had another grueling day.  Ann has been moved to a hospice facility in Columbus.  She is resting peacefully, still hanging on.  Butch has followed her religiously.  This makes the fourth or fifth location she’s had in Columbus since this ordeal started and he’s been everywhere with her.

 

Lynn and I were talking today about how good it has been to have Message available to us.  Butch has been able to share his feelings, which I’m sure is very important to him, with multiple people at one time without having to face any of us.  And all of us, spread out through multiple states, have been kept fully aware of Ann’s fate.  Ann has two sisters who are on the group chat.  Lynn, Kay, Mary K., a bunch of his Athens friends, and I have read and responded to him regularly.

 

Kay expressed a desire to visit Butch this coming weekend.  He has always been close to her as they have a lot in common.  Based on our phone conversation with her today, I believe she is going to try to drive there on Friday.

 

I am trying to check things off my personal TO DO list.  Today’s item that I got completed was to pressure wash the kids’ playground.  It had lots of lichens and dirt on it but my pressure washer took care of that.  Tonight I began another item on my list associated with the playground—I started staining it with redwood stain.  I had a little left in a gallon from previous years so tonight I stained the new boards that Jim and I had attached around its perimeter.  Now everything is at least redwood colored.  Also tonight I picked up a new gallon of stain at Lowe’s and plan to spend a good deal of time tomorrow staining it all.  Freddie is really the only grandchild who comes here often who uses it but I want it looking and working good for when Faron and Coen come.  I just don’t think they’ll be coming until COVID-19 is under control so who knows when that will be.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 24            Infected                   Died

World               23,800,659              816,517

US                       5,914,682              181,097

Virginia                113,630                  2,471

Augusta County          346                         4

 

Virginia had only 4 new deaths and a little over 630 new cases.  The US death rate was under 600 again.  Augusta County still shows 17 people hospitalized at the current time, though.

 

August 25, 2020

Another day of waiting for Butch.  Once again “Ann’s Army” was busy with regular updates from him and supporting comments from the dozen+ friends and family that are part of this chat.  The only good thing I can say is that he has had plenty of time to prepare for what’s coming and recognize that he is fully supported by friends and family.

 

It was a busy day for me.  I spent the morning staining the kids’ playset.  We have had that playset for around a dozen years so this is not the first time I’ve slapped redwood stain on it.  Perhaps it will be the last since Faron and Coen will probably be the last two to use it.  At least now it is well supported, thanks to Jim’s work a few weeks ago, and looks good.  I made no attempt to paint it carefully.  The wood is old and soaks in the stain.  I removed a few of the metal handles but some wouldn’t come off so I just painted around them to the best I could without spending much time.  At some point I may need to give it a new, different roof.  It took the entire gallon of stain and I spent all morning on the project.

 

This afternoon I had a 2:00 Central UMC Finance Committee meeting via Zoom.  Before the meeting I had to prepare some data to share with the group.  Central’s finances aren’t as bad off as I would have predicted a few months ago.  First, we got one of the government’s PPP loans which will turn into a grant.  Then, our membership has stepped up their givings for the past three months.  Plus, our endowments have returned to the levels they were pre-pandemic so income from them has supplemented our treasury.  Finally, we got an anonymous $15,000 donation in memory of two of our recently departed members.

 

Tonight we had a Central UMC Council meeting via Zoom.  Besides being Finance Chairman, I am the Council secretary so I was busy taking notes while “zooming.”  My goal for every meeting is to e-mail the minutes within two minutes after the meeting has ended.  I met my goal for tonight’s meeting.

 

Lynn had a friend, Ginny Bauman over tonight while I had the Council meeting.  Ginny’s mother-in-law is near death and John has returned to be with his mother and family in Marion VA.  Tomorrow morning Lynn is having her friend Mary Gooden over.  The Pergola is getting good use!

 

Tomorrow we’re also having the Gutshall kids all day.  I’ll probably take Freddie and Betsy bike riding in the morning while Lynn visits with Mary.  We’re not sure what we’ll do in the afternoon.

 

This afternoon we made a trip to Harrisonburg.  Lynn had some shoes she wanted to return to Costco and we had agreed to get pizza from Vito’s for dinner.  Today was also the first day of class at James Madison University though we managed to make our two stops without too much traffic interference.  Harrisonburg reminds me so much of Morgantown—it is a completely different town when the college is in session.  Who knows how long JMU will stay on campus with in-person learning given many colleges’ bad experiences with COVID-19.  ABC news reported that the University of Alabama has recorded 531 cases of COVID-19 on campus since the fall semester began last week

 

The numbers of new COVID-19 cases and new deaths in the United States have both decreased by substantial amounts in week-over-week comparisons, according to an internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by ABC News Monday night.  Just five U.S. states and territories are currently in an upward trajectory of new cases, while five states are at a plateau and 46 states are going down, the memo said.  There were 300,366 new cases confirmed during the period of Aug. 17-23, a 16.2% decrease from the previous seven-day period. There were also 6,873 new deaths recorded Aug. 17-23, an 8.5% decrease from the previous week, according to the memo.  Meanwhile, the national positivity rate for COVID-19 tests ticked downward slightly from 6.4% to 5.5%, the memo said.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

August 25            Infected                   Died

World               24,043,580              822,528

US                       5,955,708              182,404

Virginia                114,635                  2,494

Augusta County          347                         4

 

Another thousand new cases for Virginia, though.  And twenty three more deaths.  Augusta County now has eighteen people hospitalized with coronavirus.

 

August 26, 2020 

Today was Ann’s last day on this earth.  She passed late this afternoon with Butch by her side.  It was a quiet ending to a nine week ordeal.  In the end, she died peacefully and the way she had asked that it be in her Advanced Medical Directive.  All of us on his group chat were expecting this to happen, of course.  His texts during the past week have been heart wrenching and poignant.  Even Wiley has seemed to understand more of what was going on, texting Butch that he “is so pampering you when you come home tomorrow.”

 

Butch has been such a good and faithful husband to her during the past nine weeks.  Here is one of my texts to him:  You set such a high standard for the rest of us who may someday be in your shoes.  But you have always set a high standard.  [Me to teachers, “I’m Butch Hill’s brother.”  Teachers to me, “Great!”….a few weeks later…Teachers to me, “Are you SURE you’re his brother?”]

 

Ann will be cremated and there will be some kind of friends and family service later, perhaps weeks later.  For the time being, I don’t think I’ll go to Athens since Lynn can’t leave her Mom for any period of time now.  Kay has confirmed that she is going there on Friday and coming home on Saturday.  Butch told us today that he is looking forward to her coming.

 

We had Betsy, Freddie, and Gus most of the day today.  Lynn had several other things going on so I took care of them for the most part.  Gus doesn’t need anyone to take care of him; as long as he has a WiFi signal in the basement he’s good to go.  I fixed breakfast and lunch for Freddie and Betsy, played cards with Betsy, then loaded up the bike rack and three bikes for a trip to Waynesboro.  The four of us went and Lynn dropped us off at Waynesboro’s one mile long bike path.  It is an easy one for the kids with almost no hills.  By the time we had done up and back then up and back again we had ridden four miles.  Betsy learned how to shift gears since she’s now riding Lynn’s old ten speed bike.  If all goes as planned, the three of them will have their first day of in-person schooling just one week from today.  I think we’ll have them at our house again tomorrow.

 

We had our family Zoom session tonight.  All four households were on.  Betsy was holding cats, of course, and Faron and Coen were swinging on the tire swing in their back yard that Jim made for them.  Georgia was playing on their playground and hammock.  It is always good to see their smiling faces even if the conversation is somewhat haphazard.

 

Betsy is excited about moving.  It may not happen until late October or November but that’s OK.  They will be only 0.6 mile from us.  Henry is the only one who is not crazy about their new house because he wanted a man-cave room in the basement and the Lintner’s house doesn’t have a finished basement.

 

Our housekeeper Connie was here tonight so I missed the news.  Lynn and I try to get out of her way so we ate our warmed up pizza on the back porch then went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

 

We got a quote today from a local windows vendor for replacing the windows in our house.  I asked them to send us two separate quotes:  one for replacing just the upstairs windows and one for replacing them all.  The upstairs quote is one I can live with but to replace them all will be quite expensive.  Lynn and I will be talking about this for a while.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 26            Infected                   Died

World               24,315,420              828,721

US                       5,998,702              183,607

Virginia                115,458                  2,515

Augusta County          349                         4

 

As I have said often, the site I get this data from, worldometers.com, has counts a little higher than the Johns Hopkins data but nonetheless we are almost at six million infections in the United States.  Virginia continues to add around 800 more each day and had 21 new deaths in the past 24 hours.  I wish I had better data to report.

 

I always write this using MS Word then copy and paste onto my WordPress post.  Today the Word document topped 200 pages, single spaced.   I’ve written approximately 128 posts since April 20.  I’m committed to continue writing this blog until the day I take my vaccine for COVID-19.

 

August 27, 2020

I suppose Butch will be making his final drive home from Columbus today.  He has made friends with so many of the health care people there plus those at the Residence Inn where he has stayed.  He has been treated very well by all of them and I know how much he appreciates that.  I guess “Ann’s Army” will be decommissioned.  It has been of much support to him and this morning he wrote of his gratitude.  “I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for all of you.  Together we did something beautiful:  we arranged for a good ending for Ann’s life story—something that Gawande reminded me that every life story deserves.  I could never have done this alone; I’m not that strong!  Now I’m hoping to begin to repay your love and kindness that worked this miracle. I know that many of you are facing hardships and losses of your own.  Let me help you in any way I can.  (I’m NOT saying that I’m done leaning on you, by any means!). I love you all, in ways that only the sadness of the last two months could germinate.”

 

I’m so pleased to be his brother.  He is a good man.  He has gone through many tough times in his life yet has emerged as a great example of what a husband can be.  He has a wonderful mind and a skill set far beyond mine and others, but what has really defined him for the last nine weeks has been his heart.

 

Lynn and I renewed our Broadway in Richmond subscription this morning.  We’re supposing that by next year we will be safe attending Broadway shows again at the Altria Theatre in Richmond where we’ve enjoyed five or six great shows each year for the past half dozen years.  In previous years we’ve shared a subscription with Ann and Joel Palmer who originally lived in Staunton, then moved to near Richmond, but now have moved to Atlanta.  So they are not going to renew with us this year.  We took a chance and bought their tickets this time so now we have four really good seats for the five productions.  John and Ginny Bauman have told us they want two tickets for two of the shows scheduled for 2021 and perhaps Ann and Betsy would want to go to one or more of the others.

 

We had Betsy and Freddie all day today.  Lynn was tied up with four activities of her own so until 2:00 I was in charge of them.  After I fixed them some breakfast, we piled our bikes in the back of my truck and went to Grottoes and rode in and around the town park there.  The park has a nice playground which the kids also played on.  It worked out well.  When we got back I fixed lunch, mac and cheese.  Actually Lynn had also made deviled eggs which the kids enjoyed both at breakfast and lunch times.  When Lynn was finished with her chores, she helped them make some shirts using her Cricut machine.  They look professionally done.  While they worked on the shirts, I got the grass cut.  So it was a busy but productive day for all four of us.

 

I have to laugh at one thing which happened today.  As I was packing up everything to come home from Grottoes when our bike riding was over, I told the kids that I couldn’t find my sunglasses.  Betsy found them—they were on my face!  I was wearing them.

 

My sister and I talked on the phone today.  She told me how she had discovered that our adopted aunt, Zella, apparently has Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home near Bluefield.  That’s too bad.  Zella was always so good to my grandmother who had adopted her.

 

On the COVID-19 front, more than 1,000 Americans have died in each of the last three days due to the virus.  The head of the CDC now says that if you have been exposed to someone who is positive but you have no symptoms there’s no need for you to be tested.  Many health leaders jumped all over this, saying the decision was made under pressure from Trump who has foolishly said that we test too many people and that’s why we have so many cases.  If we truly want to get a good grip on this disease we need to test more, not fewer, people.  You don’t have to be a M.D. to understand that.  Trump is just embarrassed over the fact that the US is doing so badly when compared to the rest of the world and has decided that if people aren’t tested the number of people reportedly are infected will drop.  Duh!  Of course that number would drop but this would greatly hinder the goal of getting coronavirus under control.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 27            Infected                   Died

World               24,584,846              834,441

US                       6,039,974              184,652

Virginia                116,579                  2,527

Augusta County          353                         4

Same old, same old.  Another thousand deaths in the US.  Another thousand cases in Virginia.  CNN News says new coronavirus cases are down across the US about 12% on average over the last seven days compared to the previous week, but the nation is still averaging more than 900 deaths a day.  According to an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, cases are steadily declining in states hard-hit by Covid-19. Compared to last week, new cases are down in Arizona about 36%, California and Texas have seen a decrease of 29%, and Florida’s numbers are down 26%.

 

August 28, 2020

I’ve kept most of my negative comments about Donald Trump to his horrendous response to COVID-19.  For example, because of our coronavirus pandemic, US citizens are now banned from entering every other country in the world.  So has he made America great?  But today what’s on my mind is how he has fueled the discord that exists throughout our country–discord between blacks and whites, Hispanics and whites, Republicans and Democrats, LGBTQ people and straight, men and women, gun and non-gun owners, police and public, and certainly rich and poor.  The President of the United States should be one who binds us together, not one who revels on creating havoc.  He claims that he is the “law and order” man yet we have daily examples of violence including today’s stories about 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, a Trump fan, who took an AR-15 to Kenosha, Wisconsin and killed two people who were protesting after the police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back.

 

Butch shared Ann’s obituary today.  It is exceedingly well written.  Her sisters and another friend helped him put it together:

Ann Elizabeth (Bohannon) Hill, 68, of Athens, Ohio, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, at the Hospice of Central Ohio, Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. She died with her devoted husband, Butch, by her side, surrounded in spirit by an army of family and friends.

Ann is survived by her husband of 35 years, Herman “Butch” Hill and son Wiley, both of Athens; sisters Jane Thorn of Durham, N.C., and Lynn Bohannon of Woodstock, Vt.; many nieces and nephews and their children; and special friends Meredith, Elena, and Luyi. She was preceded in death by her parents Ralph and Virginia Bohannon.

Ann, the second of three daughters, was born in Fayetteville, N.C., on Feb. 28,1952, but grew up in Bridgeport, W.Va. She graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1970 and from West Virginia University in 1974 with a degree in English. After graduation, she worked in the WVU bookstore where she eventually met Butch, an engineering professor at WVU. A good friendship blossomed into romance and the rest is history. Ann and Butch were married Nov. 23, 1984, and made their home in Athens. They raised a brilliant, quirky, and sweet son Wiley. Although outnumbered by men, Ann kept both in line with her dry, no-nonsense wit. Ann loved to travel and was fortunate to have many opportunities to do so with Butch. She loved experiencing different cultures, sampling new cuisines, and walking, walking, walking in interesting cities. Ann was loved by those who knew her for her wit, her spirit of fun, her sense of adventure, her generosity, and her common sense. Those of us whose lives she touched are forever grateful.

Per her wishes, Ann was cremated and there will be no formal service, but rest assured she is being celebrated through our memories. She would have dismissed us all with an eye roll and a wave of her hand, anyway. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Hospice of Central Ohio or the Rockland Public Library in Rockland, Maine.   Please share a memory, send a note of condolence, or sign the online register book at http://www.jagersfuneralhome.

Today was a hot but dry day so I got some outside chores done.  I connected my pressure washer to the faucet in the front of our house, got my extension ladder, and took advantage of the washer’s 30 foot hose to climb on the roof and wash the siding which had gotten very ugly over the summer.  Then I loaded my truck with a bunch of debris that had been under the maple tree near our garden for years.  There were rotted fence posts, fence boards, stumps, and ancient firewood.  I took it all to the dump.

 

Lynn had a bunch of chores of her own to do but we both ended up feeling somewhat bored after dinner.  In previous months we would have walked but she still has several more weeks of healing and rehab before her broken foot is ready to resume the multiple daily walks we took.

 

With all the news about Biden and Trump I have to believe that there are no undecided voters left in America.  I believe there are 67 days before we vote but I think we’d get the same results if we voted today.  Of course, I hope that result is a Biden victory.  There’s no real reason to have debates, TV ads, rallies, etc.  No Trump supporter is going to change his mind because of these and no Biden supporter in his right mind would think of switching tickets.

 

ABC news reported the first case in America of a person getting a second COVID-19 infection after he had recovered from his first infection.  As the news said, this is just one case out of six million in the US but it still is not what anyone wanted to read.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 28            Infected                   Died

World               24,887,834              840,392

US                       6,093,027              185,837

Virginia                117,592                  2,550

Augusta County          354                         4

Another repeated story:  1,000 more cases in Virginia and 1,000 more deaths in the US.

 

August 29, 2020

I read an article today in The Atlantic that son-in-law Andy had suggested labeled “Trump is a Secessionist from the Top.”  The article states that Trump considers himself as a wartime leader of Red America against Blue America.  It states that we basically have two countries in one now, Red and Blue.  “Since we are two countries, we can have two sets of laws and rules: one for friends, another for enemies. That’s why so many prominent Trump supporters can look at the shooting in Kenosha and perceive the gunman, who went to a city where he did not live with an AR-15-style rifle in hand, as acting in self-defense. The gunman had legitimate rights that must be respected. The dead men did not, and neither did all the many victims this year of police shootings. If those victims had criminal records, then they were criminals—unlike, say, Michael Flynn, who remains a rights-bearing American despite his criminal record. Two countries, two classes of citizen, two systems of law.”  The article concludes with this statement:   Is the law a set of obligations and rights binding for all, or a tool of power for the benefit of some?

 

Reading this article reinforced something which makes my blood pressure rise—there are many people in our society who think that mandates and laws are for someone else, not for them.  They don’t wear masks or maintain social distancing.  They conduct political rallies on White House property.  I get furious even when I am driving the legal speed limit on an interstate highway and a police car with no blue lights on buzzes past me.  Why can they disobey the laws but I can’t?  Trump embodies this type of person to the fullest, promising “law and order” yet disobeying both science and the law himself:  saying hydroxychloroquine will prevent COVID-19, not wearing a mask even when he is in places that require it, inviting foreign assistance in his re-election plans, encouraging militias to arm themselves, sending in federal troops to quell peaceful rallies, and on and on.

 

Another Facebook post emphasized this polarization.  It showed a drawing of Colin Kapernick kneeling during the National Anthem with the label “Traitor” and another drawing of Kyle Rittenhouse armed with his AR-15 with the label “Hero.”

 

I’m proud of Kay today.  She drove to Athens last night to visit Butch.  It was a six hour drive for her.  She has always felt close to him for many reasons and was one of those in the “Ann’s Army” group message throughout her aunt Ann’s ordeal.  This morning Butch wrote to Lynn and me, “Thank you SO much for sharing your daughter with me!  We sat out on the patio at the OU Inn until WAY past my bedtime, toasting Ann, talking about Ann (and talking about everything else, it seems!).  Today I’m taking her to some of my favorite places and favorite people in Athens.  Tomorrow, we’ll go for a run before she heads back home.”

 

Lynn’s breadmaker was showing signs of being worn out so she bought a new one this week.  After all, as I’ve written before, she has made homemade sourdough bread every week since this pandemic began.  It has been delicious.  Today she tried out her new breadmaker.  It is a little smaller than her previous one so she was concerned that her oft-used recipe might not work in it.  But it worked just fine.  Yum!

 

Central UMC had a fundraiser BBQ today for the family of our former administrative assistant, Sarah Russell.  We picked up some pork for dinner and left a generous offering for the Russell family, who just had their second daughter who apparently has Down’s Syndrome.  We also picked up some for Ann’s family.

 

The BBQ pork on the homemade rolls plus cole slaw from the church made for a great supper.  Lynn also fried some potatoes from the leftover baked potatoes from yesterday.  Good eating!

 

Lynn helped her mother with lunch again today.  Mrs. Hanger is not doing very well.  She is very lethargic and doesn’t eat much.  She sleeps a lot.  Sometimes her mind is sharp but at other times she hallucinates.

 

As of Saturday, more than 1,200 students and 166 employees and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at the University of Alabama.  Meanwhile, WVU continues to hold classes, practice football, and prepare for a full season of Big 12 football beginning on September 12 when they host Eastern Kentucky.  No fans will be attending the Eastern Kentucky game.

 

In the afternoon, Lynn and I went to Lowe’s in Staunton.  She is somewhat bored now and wanted a project to work on.  So, she bought three 48” boards which she plans to turn into porch signs like the Welcome sign that she made that is out there now.  Actually, she bought a 12’ board which she got cut into three 4’ boards at the store.

 

The boredom we’re experiencing is due to both COVID-19 limiting our going out and Lynn’s broken foot keeping us from walking.  So for the past few days we’ve both played a lot of Solitaire.  I’m over 19,500 games of Whirly Word on my iPad.  We both also spend a lot of time on Facebook.  One favorite post of mine was a cartoon showing a group of people gawking over Trump.  They say “We’d give up our lives for you!”  Trump responds, “Thanks, I’d give up your lives for me, too.”

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

August 29            Infected                   Died

World               25,141,374              845,532

US                       6,135,900              186,792

Virginia                118,809                  2,568

Augusta County          361                         4

I’ve been writing that these statistics are repetitive.  Like yesterday, there’s around another thousand deaths in the US and well over a thousand new cases in Virginia.  Augusta County still has 18 hospitalized with coronavirus.  Meanwhile, Rockingham and Harrisonburg have 1,044 and 1,240 cases, respectively.  JMU is back in class and has around 200 students who are infected.

 

August 30, 2020

Today was probably the prettiest day we’ve had in August.  The humidity was low, the skies clear, and the temperatures in the low 80’s.  I wish it would continue but, alas, the forecast for tomorrow is for heavy rain.  We’ve already had twice the normal rainfall for August but I guess the month will end with a stamp of more precipitation.  Yuck!

 

I almost had to make up some work just to get outside on such a pretty day.  I ended up hooking my cart to my mower and filling it with the dirt we had displaced when we dug the poles for the Pergola.  I took it to our field and used it to fill in two holes there.  The cart worked very well.

 

Before then I had done my usual Sunday morning routine which included preparing then playing a hymn for our Zoom Bible study and taking part in the hour-long meeting.

 

This is the week of in-law birthdays.  Today is Morgan’s, tomorrow is Josh’s, and Thursday is Andy’s.

 

Lynn has been working on her new porch signs today.  This morning she stained one of the boards we got at Lowe’s yesterday and this afternoon she lettered it using her Cricut machine.  Her sign says “Happy Fall Y’all.”   Lynn is the craftiest woman I’ve ever known.  She is always creating, altering, bedazzling, designing, or making something with her hands.  Her creations are varied and always professionally done.

 

Lynn reported that her mother was doing much better today.  She was alert, talkative, and ate lunch well.  An hour later Jane visited her and found a very different person.  She was confused and much less alert.

 

The upcoming week is a big one.  School resumes in Augusta County on Tuesday.  Gus, Betsy, and Freddie will go on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Henry will go on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Kids don’t go on Mondays.

 

I read an editorial online in Business Insider.  The author said that Donald Trump isn’t the “law and order President,” he’s the “lawless and disorder President.”  He showed many of Trump’s defiance of the law including how many of his cronies he had pardoned, some of whom had pled guilty of their crimes.  He wrote “He speaks out against an ‘angry mob’ of peaceful protesters but encourages mob violence at his rallies. He calls himself an ally to peaceful protesters but sends federal troops to tear gas them so he can have a photo op. He calls on foreign leaders not to kill their protesters but warns Americans that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’”

 

Even more enflaming to me was an article in New York Times that said that Trump reposted messages asserting that the real death toll from the coronavirus is only around 9,000 — not 182,000 — because the others who died also had other health issues and most were of an advanced age.  “So get this straight — based on the recommendation of doctors Fauci and Birx the US shut down the entire economy based on 9,000 American deaths to the China coronavirus,” said the summary of a story by the hard-line conservative website Gateway Pundit that was retweeted by the president, assailing his own health advisers, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx.  He also tweeted that Governor Andrew Cuomo from New York should be imprisoned due to the high death rate early in the pandemic at New York nursing homes.  The truth is that Cuomo was always transparent in how he dealt with the coronavirus and has New York in good shape compared to the rest of the country.  The same night as those two tweets, he liked a tweet written by someone else that said “Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump.”  Rittenhouse, of course, is the 17-year old Trump supporter who is charged with homicide for killing two demonstrators in Kenosha, Wisconsin, using his illegal AR-15.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

August 30            Infected                   Died

World               25,376,719              850,141

US                       6,171,272              187,216

Virginia                119,747                  2,569

Augusta County          363                         4

The world deaths have been increasing by around 5,000 each day.  ABC news reports that India has registered 78,761 new coronavirus cases, the biggest single-day spike in the world since the pandemic began, just as the government began easing restrictions to help the battered economy.   Virginia again had near 1,000 more cases though only one more death.  The US number of deaths was down to under 500.  Augusta County still has 18 hospitalized whereas Rockingham and Harrisonburg together have nearly 200 hospitalized at the moment.

August 31, 2020

I read an opinion by Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post this morning entitled “The Five Dumbest Republican Arguments for Trump.”  This article is so right-on that I am reproducing it below:

 

None of Republicans’ commonly deployed arguments for reelecting President Trump are tethered to reality. The paucity of logic and factual support for their rationales suggests many on the right, even “respectable” columnists and elected officials, actually support him for reasons they’re loath to admit, whether it’s because they share his apocalyptic view of crime encroaching on the suburbs or are eager to see a country purged of immigrants.

He will give us law and order: If public safety is the concern, the unnecessary deaths from covid-19, which might exceed 200,000 by Election Day, and the anxiety over leaving our homes for fear of joining 6 million infected Americans surely make Trump’s tenure the most dangerous for ordinary Americans. Each week, we have been losing twice the number of Americans killed on Sept. 11.

No wonder Trump loves to highlight any domestic scene of disorder, mayhem and looting he can to frighten White Americans, arguing that if law enforcement “dominates the streets,” we will have public order. This is preposterous. We cannot go to war with millions of demonstrators. That’s simply impossible, not to mention morally objectionable. The demands of the protesters, among them police reform and voting rights legislation are entirely legitimate. But so long as Trump denies the legitimacy of these concerns and the presence of systemic racism, we will not have domestic tranquility.

Trump celebrates violence, encourages police misconduct, honors Whites indicted for brandishing guns at marchers and tear-gassed peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway let on that the administration believes that the more violence happens in the streets, the better chance Trump has of being reelected.

Meanwhile, Trump smears our intelligence community, spinning false conspiracy theories and adopting Vladimir Putin’s version of the 2016 plot to interfere with our election. Trump tramples on laws and precedents ranging from the Hatch Act to turning over his tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee upon request. There is no president in recent memory who has hired and associated with so many convicted felons. He personally is under investigation by multiple authorities for potential financial crimes. He is his own crime spree.

As President Trump threatens to unleash the military on American cities roiled in civil unrest, it’s clear that he’s embracing his inner Nixon.

He has vanquished the pandemic: The level of delusion necessary to sustain the fiction that Trump has handled the pandemic well is unfathomable. We have more deaths due to the disease than any other country on the planet, many more deaths per capita than many advanced countries and no national testing-and-tracing program. We remain cloistered at home and children cannot attend school in person in most places after weeks of shutdowns, largely because Trumped egged officials into reopening prematurely. He has hawked dangerous and unproven remedies and pressured government health experts to weaken or change guidelines to minimize dangers and restrictions on activities. As he did Thursday night, he gathers large crowds without masks and social distancing, creating his very own potential superspreading events.

He has been great for the economy: Multiple fact-checkers have repeatedly demonstrated that the economy under President Barack Obama’s was stronger by multiple measures than the economy under Trump. This disparity was due in part to tariffs Trump imposed, which amount to a tax hike for U.S. consumers. If Trump falsely thinks he inherited a rotten economy, it’s inarguable that it got worse even before he crashed it by attempting to ignore a pandemic. It is now evident that some jobs lost will not return when — and if — the coronavirus is vanquished. Hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses have closed. Companies will not all emerge from bankruptcy. Trump ends his four years with record unemployment and debt — and without a plan to reduce either.

Joe Biden is a socialist: Not even the Republicans have the nerve to make that argument. Instead, they argue that Biden will be tricked or led around by the nose by forces on the left. This is entirely speculative and ignores Biden’s decades-long record in office (remember the 1994 crime bill?) and policy choices during the campaign, among them his opposition to Medicare-for-all. Moreover, we have yet to see in American politics a situation in which the wing of a party defeated in the presidential primary magically controls the executive branch after their rivals from the same party assume office.

Moreover, if “conservatives” are worried about the expansion of government, then Trump’s widespread abuse of executive power, meddling in investigations and enforcement actions to benefit cronies and punish enemies, threats to harm certain companies (as in his call for a boycott of Goodyear), protectionism and capitulation to illiberal regimes, as well as the mammoth debt he’s run up, his indiscriminate use of federal forces against protesters, his misuse of government property and government employees to serve his personal interests, and attacks on the courts and free press make Trump the least conservative president ever (if that word has any meaning anymore).

“Life”: One can respect those deeply opposed to abortion in evaluating the candidates, but by the same token, a president who prioritizes the economy over preventing a pandemic, rips children from the arms of their mothers, refuses to denounce killings of unarmed Black Americans and willfully declines to protect the lives of our troops on whose heads Russia placed bounties is not respectful of human life in any meaningful sense. Indeed, Trump has turned the party into a vicious death cult that trivializes the nearly 180,000 deaths caused by covid-19 to date. When you create superspreader crowds to soothe your ego, you are endangering human life.

When one party willfully ignores a pandemic and treats Black lives as expendable, it loses any moral authority regarding the sanctity of human life. In refusing to be guided by scientific facts (be it on air and water quality, climate change or covid-19), Trump puts at risk the health and lives of millions of people here and around the world. Those who value the essential worth of every human being should be repulsed by this administration.

Staunton’s monthly rainfall for August averages 3.44 inches.  Even before today, August in 2020 had 9.81 inches of rain plus an inch and a half today today.  That means this year we saw over three times the normal rainfall in August.  I’m tired of it.

 

Despite the rain, we ran some errands today in Harrisonburg then returned in time for Lynn to visit with her mother again.  I kept checking for roof leaks but, fortunately, did not find any.

 

One of our errands was to pick up ice cream for the Gutshall’s for tonight.  We’ve offered to have Smiley’s ice cream as both a way of celebrating Josh’s birthday and for the kids going back to school.  Our choices for the night were Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter Chunk, Cherry Sorbet, and Cookies & Cream.

 

We also had a second contractor come by to give us an estimate for the replacement of our 50 year old windows.  We’re having each contractor give us multiple quotes and will decide later what to do.

 

At Georgia Tech students have been back in class for two weeks.  In the past eight days the number of infected students jumped from 252 to 641.  JMU has 390 cases.  At WVU, tests were given yesterday to 136 students and 27 came back positive, a 19.9% rate.  This is terribly high.  They have had around 200 positive tests in all.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

August 31            Infected                   Died

World               25,592,653              853,451

US                       6,205,706              187,624

Virginia                120,594                  2,580

Augusta County          364                         4

The number of deaths in the US is around 400 more than the previous day, which is a smaller increase than we’ve seen recently.  Likewise, the number of infections in Virginia is around 800 more than the previous day which is a smaller increase than it has been.

July 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

July 1, 2020

The morning news said that there were 45,000 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.   Texas and California together have approximately 15,000 of those cases.  Florida has more than 150,000 total cases.  Experts say that indoor gatherings with lack of masks are the main culprit but officials won’t ban these type of engagements.  It is much safer to be outside, the experts say.  Those who refuse to wear masks because they don’t want the government telling them what to do should be aware that there are already laws about wearing seatbelts in the car and shoes and shirts inside a restaurant.

 

Even some leading Republicans are encouraging Trump to wear a mask to set an example.  The asshole won’t.  I just can’t fathom how anyone, anyone would want this guy to continue as the leader of our country.

 

Lynn and I have been reading lots of texts over the past week from my brother about Ann’s recovery.  She is doing better and is still hospitalized in Columbus OH.  Recovery from a stroke is a slow process.

After lunch today we met John and Ginny Bauman at Smiley’s for ice cream.  We had previously arranged this as our way of celebrating Ginny’s retirement effective yesterday.  Wow, Lynn and I have now been officially retired for three years.  I’d have to rate these as superb years for me.

 

We took our ice cream to a shelter in a park in Bridgewater where we sat and talked for two hours.  It was very relaxing.

 

We got news today that two of our friends, Jim and Vicki Printy, have decided to leave Central United Methodist Church.  They have been members at Central for around forty years so I know this decision was not made quickly.  They are not happy with the United Methodist Church’s lack of support for the LGTBQ community.  They have a gay daughter.  Central has been very liberal but the denomination has yet to take an inclusive stand on those in the LGTBQ community.  It is unfortunate.  There may be other reasons for their exit, we’re not sure.

 

The health app on my iPhone said we walked 7.4 miles today.  Lynn’s FitBit usually records a slightly higher figure.  After an early dinner we walked the Leaport Loop.  When we left home, it was 85o outside.   The loop has 40% shade, at best, so this was a hot lap though the humidity was bearable.

 

Unbelievably stupid!  This story is from ABC news tonight:

Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have been attending parties in the city and surrounding area as part of a disturbing contest to see who can catch the virus first, a city council member told ABC News on Wednesday.  Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students have been organizing “COVID parties” as a game to intentionally infect each other with the contagion…She said the organizers of the parties are purposely inviting guests who have COVID-19.  “They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” McKinstry said. “They’re intentionally doing it.”

 

Can you believe this behavior with statistics like these?

Infected                   Died

World               10,780,541              517,842

US                       2,774,663              130,757

Virginia                  63,203                  1,786

Augusta County          184                         2

 

There must have been an error in Augusta County’s report last night because the total infected as of yesterday was 185 but today it is 184.

 

This is Wednesday so tonight we had our weekly Zoom meeting.

 

July 2, 2020

Good Morning America announced that yesterday the US set a record for new COVID-19 infections–over 50,000 in one day.  More than 40% of the country has reversed some of its re-opening.  Many of the states have a shortage of tests.

 

We had a very eventful walk this morning.  First, about 1/2 miles from home on Leaport Road, we encountered a cow in the road.  I walked back to tell a man who was working in neighboring field while Lynn planned to stay with the cow.  Unfortunately, it turned then headed off down the road so fast she didn’t know where it went.  She texted Lacey Michael who lives across from the field where the cow probably came from.  We kept on walking to our one mile mark then turned around and came back but didn’t see the cow again.

 

Then, as we were turning to do the Mount Pisgah UMC mile, a fire truck and rescue squad ambulance came and turned into our neighbor John Michael’s house.  John has been very, very ill lately.  The ambulance left after a while but not with its lights flashing so we’re not sure what that means.

 

On the last 1/2 mile of our walk we noticed that a huge 18 wheeler had stopped on the side of our narrow country road.  We had seen this truck come up Limestone Road beside Mount Pisgah Church which is very surprising because that road has a 5 mph curve on it that I don’t know how the truck made.  Anyway the truck was stopped because the driver was lost.  We chatted with him and think we got him back on track to the Augusta County Business Park.  Apparently his GPS had led him astray once he got off I-81.

 

We’ve had lots of texts from my brother Butch today and others who are on the mass chat he has set up so he can report to all interested parties about her progress.  He called the chat “Ann’s Army.”  Ann is still making some progress in Columbus, slow though.

 

The Harrisonburg newspaper had an article in today’s edition saying that yesterday was the first day of no new COVID-19 cases since March.  That’s a good sign, especially with the rest of the country going in the opposite direction.

 

The ABC news tonight verified that the number of infections in one day, 50,700 is more than double that of a month ago.  Dr. Fauci warned that we are losing the war.  Cases were rising in 38 states (but not Virginia).  Yet Trump said “it is being handled.”  With the July 4 weekend coming up, another surge is expected.  The governor of Texas finally made mask wearing mandatory.

 

Here are tonight’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               10,968,349              523,136

US                       2,832,121              131,406

Virginia                  63,735                  1,816

Augusta County          189                         2

 

Such a shame that there is no news about a cure or a vaccine.  When will it come?

 

July 3, 2020

This is a typical July day—hot and dry.  We managed to get in our morning 3 mile walk before it got too hot.

 

I got an interesting e-mail from YouTube today.  When I was at Bridgewater College I created a YouTube channel for posting my instructional videos.  I posted them mainly for my students though they could be viewed by anyone.  I have nearly 50 videos posted.  Nearly all are screencasts where you hear my voice and see my computer screen but never see me.  I created them to show students how to do various tasks including teaching math topics, instructional video topics, and teaching assistance videos.  One of them has nearly 175,000 views.  The e-mail I got today was a celebration e-mail that I now have 1,000 subscribers.  When you subscribe to a YouTube channel you receive instant updates whenever new content from that source appears. It also enables you to view activity from the author, such as videos that have been named “favorites,” ratings that have been given and comments that have been left.  What’s really interesting is that I haven’t made any new screencasts in over three years!

 

Lynn’s iPhone has been giving her fits for the past several days.  Many times when you call her the phone just doesn’t ring.  Sometimes she can’t call out.  It is an old phone, an iPhone 6, which may need to be replaced.  I made an appointment for her this afternoon at Verizon in Staunton to see what her options are.  They told her that her phone would be replaced at no cost to us because we have a service agreement on it and all of our phones.

 

In the morning, she visited with her mother to help with lunch.  Mrs. Hanger’s health remains OK though she certainly has slipped during the past year.

 

Lynn reposted a message on Facebook I agree with today:

DEAR TRUMP SUPPORTERS,

Only three miles of the wall have been built. Mexico isn’t paying, Hillary is not in jail, Obamacare wasn’t repealed or replaced, North Korea and Iran are building nuclear weapons, there’s no China trade deal, the deficit has skyrocketed, race relations have worsened, tens of millions are unemployed, and our country is the epicenter of a national pandemic.

YOU GOT PLAYED BY A CON MAN.

 

She also reposted a story today about Francis Collins who is Dr. Fauci’s boss at the National Institute of Health.  Francis Collins is a Staunton native and graduated from Lee High School (now called Staunton High School) a few years before Lynn did.  The article gave his rather optimistic predictions for when and how we can get behind the coronavirus pandemic though it was filled with his admission that there’s so much we do not know about the virus.  He gave an explanation on how vaccines are developed and where we currently are in the process.  He seemed optimistic that by the end of the year we’d have mass production of at least one vaccine.  The article also made mention of his Christian faith and understanding that science and faith are not at odds with each other.  I really liked the article.  It was originally posted in The New York Intelligencer on July 1.

 

Lynn is happiest when she has some craft job in the works.  Today was one of those days.  She has been working on a wooden sign which will go over the double doors to our patio.  She has sanded and stained the wooden 1″ x 6″ x 6′ board.  She created stencils for all the letters and tonight is putting them on the board, “mi casa es su casa.”  Tomorrow she’ll paint the stencils.  She is so talented!

 

America had its second consecutive day of over 50,000 COVID-19 new infections today.  Most of them came from six states.  Fortunately, Virginia wasn’t one of them.  Here are the statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               11,181,548              528,376

US                       2,890,582              132,101

Virginia                  64,393                  1,845

Augusta County          190                         2

 

This evening, the temperature was over 85o so we opted to return to Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton for our second walk of the day.  As I’ve said before, the park is shady, not too hilly, and has a very smooth surface since the road was recently resurfaced.  Easy walking!  Our total for the day was 6.2 miles.  Yes, Lynn and I once again walked for nearly two hours today as we do almost every day.

 

July 4, 2020

This will be perhaps the least celebrated July 4 that Lynn and I have had thanks to COVID-19.  Usually we at least go to the parade in Gypsy Hill Park but, of course, this year there’s no parade.  In some years past our Bryan and Tommy Simmons have discharged an extremely impressive fireworks display but after a neighbor complained they’ve quit doing that.  We invited Ann’s family over for hamburgers but they are going to Josh’s sister’s house to swim instead.

 

We did our usual morning walk before it got in the 80’s today.  As on many of our walks, we had a chance to stop and chat with several people while we were hiking.  We talked with Elizabeth Tuttle who lives not far away on Cider Mill Road.  She is a painter from whom we just bought two originals which are now displayed in our downstairs bathroom.   She is also Toni Sheets’ mother and told us of the awful plight Toni is in now after having fallen and broken bones in BOTH elbows.  Toni is also battling colon cancer so she didn’t need any more maladies.

 

We also talked with James and Millie Davis who live on Limestone Road.  Like us, both are now retired.  Millie taught at Fort Defiance with Lynn.  They are avid walkers/runners.  Finally we chatted with Beth Metcalfe as she was driving her two twins to their church the day before their sixth birthday.

 

It’s surprising that there are many United Methodists in our neighborhood but they go to several different churches.  The Metcalfes go to Bethany UMC which is north on US 11.  Millie and James Davis and our immediate neighbors the Myers and Links go to Verona United Methodist.  Of course, many in the area attend Mt. Pisgah UMC which is in sight from our front door.  And we go to Central UMC in Staunton.

 

With nothing on the calendar today and no events to attend thanks to COVID-19, Lynn and I were both a little bored today.  Boredom isn’t something we’re used to.  Certainly during our working lives boredom was never felt.  And even in retirement we’ve stayed very busy walking, working around the house, visiting with family, and running errands.  For me, when I’m bored I feel guilty.  Shouldn’t I be doing something useful?  What chores need to be done?  I know I’ve spent a good bit of time writing on this blog since April 20.  What should I really be doing?  I play my usual games:  Sudoku, Whirly Word, and Solitaire.  After a while even those bore me.  Lynn at least had her craft project (kitchen sign) to work on.  She finished it today and it looks quite nice.  Plus she’s cooking a good bit today.  I’ve played the piano some (more guilt feelings) and done a little work on the Central UMC website.  But mostly I’ve done nothing.   Lynn likes to keep game shows on the television but I get to a point where I need a break from them, too.

 

The World Health Organization reported that today was the highest single-day coronavirus case total worldwide.  Here are the stats:

Infected                   Died

World               11,345,442              532,391

US                       2,931,745              132,299

Virginia                  65,109                  1,849

Augusta County          192                         2

 

Thirty years ago we would have been sitting in the baseball field next to Gypsy Hill Park on the night of July 4.  We would be surrounded, closely, by 65,000 fans of the Statler Brothers and their guests at the annual Happy Birthday USA Celebration in Staunton.  It was really something to behold.  We would set out folding chairs out at 3:00 AM on the 4th then come back for the 8:00 pm concert followed by, of course, fireworks.

 

What a difference this year!  Lynn and I decided to walk in Gypsy Hill Park tonight since the road is so shady and the temperature here was above 85o.   Even though the Happy Birthday USA celebrations ceased in 1994, Gypsy Hill has still been home to thousands of people who come to the parade then picnic there.  With COVID-19, no parade, and the threat of a storm, we were shocked to see fewer than 100 people in the entire park as we walked.  The park was literally the emptiest I have seen it anytime we have walked there.  And on July 4!

 

Actually it did start to rain a bit as we were halfway through our second of two laps around the park so we took a shortcut back to the car then came home.  Our tomatoes could have used some of the rain but it never made it here to Mount Sidney.  It stopped in Verona.  Oh well, at least we still had time to finish our walk so we did our one-mile-out-and-back route making our total for the day 7.6 miles.

 

Lynn and I joked that at least we were safe today.  I think we talked to a total of seven people all day and they were all at least six feet away.  We ate exceedingly well tonight with hamburgers on the grill.  She tried a new way of preparing the hamburgers by mixing in mushrooms to the ground beef before I grilled them.  They were delicious!

 

July 5, 2020

We cued up Hamilton on our Disney+ subscription last night and started it when we went to bed at 9:00.  Unfortunately, we both fell asleep during the show.  I’m sure we’ll re-watch it several times this month now that it is available.

 

If there’s any word that describes America now it is divisive.  We have Republicans feuding with Democrats, liberals vs. conservatives, white power groups and those who insist that black lives matter, police supporters and those who want to defund and disempower police, mask enthusiasts disagreeing with those who refuse to wear them, those who want to tear down Civil War statutes fighting with those who want to keep them standing, people who insist that America should re-open from its quarantine against those who think that re-opening is fueling more COVID-19 infections, those who believe that science has the answers we seek compared to evangelicals who decry science, Trumpsters who want to build the wall to keep out Hispanics on the opposite side of those who wish to embrace and. assist them, advocates for healthcare for everyone and its opponents, and Second Amendment advocates versus those who insist on gun control.  Facebook is full of lethal posts on both sides of every issue.  We need unity but I do not see it on any horizon.  There doesn’t seem to be middle ground on any of those issues.

 

It was 9:30 before we got away on our morning walk.  We did a 2.8 mile hike in the heat.  Of course, it is getting much hotter later so I guess it was good that we got this in when we did.  Lynn has been having some trouble with shin splints lately so we may pull back a little from our daily walking.

 

It was Lynn’s turn to help her mother at lunchtime so we left for The Legacy shortly after our walk.  From there we went to Michael’s in Waynesboro for her to buy some craft materials for our Avon Hill vacation.

 

Florida is really having a COVID-19 outbreak.  They have over 10,000 new cases every day, 20% of the new cases in the US.  Of course, this is where the Republican governor went light on restrictions at first though he is back pedaling now by necessity.  Their percent of those testing positive is also quite high–nearly 20%.  Arizona and Texas are also still undergoing an unabated surge in cases.

 

Trump made remarks yesterday at a July 4 event in Washington and claimed that “a therapeutic and/or vaccine will be around long before the end of the year.”  Today a member of his own coronavirus task force, Dr. Stephan Hahn, refused to offer such a timeline for its final development.  Yes, there is furious work going on regarding vaccine development but I do strongly predict is that Trump will have something released prior to the November 3 election that he will claim will kill the virus.  But he also claimed earlier that hydroxychloroquine did that which was proven false.  You just can’t trust that guy.

 

This afternoon I felt ambitious and did something that I have been planning to do for months–took the wallpaper off the small green bathroom off our laundry room.  I use that bathroom all the time.  Nearly every time I did I saw the places where the wallpaper had worn off or was torn.  No longer!  Tomorrow I plan to paint the room using some paint we originally bought for the kitchen before changing our mind.  It took me a couple of hours to get the walls bare.  I’m glad that job is behind me.

 

We invited Ann and her family over for ice cream tonight thinking that we could eat outside.  But around 4:45 a severe thunderstorm blew through here.  We had hail, lightning, and lots of rain.  The storm had left before 7:00 when the Gutshalls came over but the threat of rain was still there.  But I dried off the patio furniture and we enjoyed our treat outside after all.  It was so good to see the Gutshalls.  Of course, before the pandemic we ate dinner with them every Sunday night.

 

Here are the numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               11,586,780              537,372

US                       2,983,155              132,571

Virginia                  65,748                  1,853

Augusta County          193                         2

 

July 6, 2020

Today was painting day for me.  The bathroom is small so I was able to get it all done in one day.  I cleaned up the wallpaper scraping from yesterday, taped where it needed, painted, came back in a couple of hours and touched up, then cleaned up.  The color isn’t great but I’m OK with it.  At least the bathroom is very clean now.

 

We walked our usual 2.8 mile neighborhood walk in the morning.  We were a little late getting out the door since I was prepping for painting and Lynn was doing laundry.  But we got it done before it got too hot.

 

We took a break in the afternoon to run to Mt. Crawford to pick up some tomatoes.  Lynn discovered that the vegetable stand there had one of her favorites–sour cherries–so she got some and will make jelly with them.  We also got a cucumber and a few Golden Delicious apples.

 

Lynn helped her Mom with lunch today.  Then, this afternoon, Ann took her family to visit her.  Only 24 days until she turns 101!

 

In addition to all the news about coronavirus, a lead story today is that there were six children killed in the past 72 hours by gun violence.  These incidents happened in various US cities but all had the common denominator of gunshots.  I’ve written many times that I do not own a gun, want a gun, or think anyone except for law enforcement needs to have a handgun.  I can see the need of owning a .22 rifle or something similar for killing rabid animals.  But I’ll let my neighbors be the ones who own that.  No guns for me!

 

Trump recently claimed that 99% of COVID-19 cases were “totally harmless.”  Tell that to the families of the 130,000+ Americans who have already died due to the virus not to mention the thousands and thousands who have been hospitalized.  Even if they recovered, you could not say the virus is harmless.  He says that the reason we have so many cases is that we test so many people.  Can you believe this idiot?

 

Trump also claimed that the US was a world leader on COVID-19.  What a lie!  The fact is, the European Union continues to ban all Americans from coming to Europe due to the fact that our cases are rising out of control.  Thank goodness Lynn and I had our Italy trip last October.  We wouldn’t be allowed to visit Italy now.

 

Lynn’s replacement iPhone arrived today.  I spent a good deal of time getting it set up just like her old one which had died.  It now has 3,400 songs on it and connects to her Toyota when she gets in.  All of her contacts and apps were restored.  And thanks to the fact that our neighbors got a UPS delivery this evening, her old one is on its way back to Apple as required.

 

Lynn has come up with another craft idea for the kids at Avon Hill.  Today she tested it out and it worked fine.  I can’t elaborate yet on any of her ideas for fear that the cat will get out of the bag!  Those grandchildren are so lucky to have a talented and interested grandmommy.

 

This was another typical July day with an afternoon thunderstorm with rain.  But the skies cleared for a late walk for us though it was only two miles.  Lynn’ fitbit said we had gone 6 miles today.  But she had done some walking that I hadn’t since I stayed and painted while she ran errands and helped with Ann’s family visiting her mother.  The health app on my phone said I’d only done 4.7 miles today.  Nonetheless, it was a good and productive day for me.

 

Here are the figures for today’s coronavirus:

Infected                   Died

World               11,717,549              539,836

US                       3,029,704              132,852

Virginia                  66,102                  1,853

Augusta County          194                         2

 

July 7, 2020

Lynn finally has a good working phone so she has been on the phone much of the morning making calls to families of upcoming kindergarteners in Rockingham County Schools to see if their child needs ELL services.  Unfortunately, many of the calls went to voicemail.  She was able to talk to some parents and children.

 

We were able to get in a two mile walk after breakfast.  Much of the time during the walk was spent on the phone with my sister who called us.  Of course, she was concerned about Butch and Ann but also shared various DeLeo family news with us.

 

Today I created a video for Central containing both a stewardship message (since I am Chairman of the Finance Committee) and the congregational prayer for July 12.  I tested it here at home then went to Central and recorded it in the sanctuary.

 

From CNN news today:  The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as effective against the novel coronavirus when used on hard, non-porous surfaces.  Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist meet the EPA’s criteria for use against the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the ongoing pandemic, based on laboratory testing that found both products kill the virus two minutes after contact, the agency announced in a statement Monday.

 

Now I’m very glad that on our last Costco trip we bought a four-pack of the disinfectant spray!

 

CNN also reported that Donald Trump’s niece Mary Trump’s scathing tell-all book will be released on July 14.  In it, among other things, Mary claimed that Donald paid for someone else to take his SAT test for him.  She also describes how Trump’s family, especially his father, created the monster who now is our president.

 

Here are the daily statistics:

Infected                   Died

World             11,940,5245              545,605

US                       3,096,503              133,954

Virginia                  66,740                  1,881

Augusta County          200                         2

 

We got in our second walk of the day at Gypsy Hill Park.  Since our morning walk was shortened, we only did 5.1 miles today.  That’s still plenty for me.

 

July 8, 2020

The news this morning is more of the same–over 50,000 new cases of coronavirus per day in the US.  Texas alone had over 10,000 new cases.  People spent 13 hours in line for testing in Arizona.  The daily death rate increased in a dozen states including Virginia.  Yet Trump said that schools in the US should re-open in the fall and threatened to pull federal aid from those that don’t.

 

I am puzzled as to why so many people are calling for schools to be open and bars to be closed.  Both involve people sitting in close proximity to each other with the obvious threat of virus spread.  Yet one is OK while the other should be banned?

 

I saw a Facebook posts today that really hit home.  First, there was this Trump tweet:

“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and many other countries SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS.  The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if US schools open before the November Election, but it is important for the children & families.  May cut off funding if not open.”  Immediately after this was the post, “New cases, yesterday:  Germany: 298, Denmark: 10, Norway: 11, Sweden: 57, USA: 55,442

 

Another Facebook post was a re-tweet someone wrote:  “am I understanding this correctly?  covid-19 is so deadly that Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen had to be released from prison early, but it’s also so benign that we needed to be packing the nation’s children back into their schools pronto?  ok, cool, that checks out”

 

Another hot July day here! We walked after breakfast so we got 3 miles in before it got unbearable but the temperature rose to the 90’s in the afternoon.  I wanted to cut grass but Lynn convinced me to wait until tomorrow.  I did make a trash dump run and did a few minor jobs around the house.

 

In my spare time today I worked on my pictures.  I have a special folder with my favorite pictures from 2019-20 in it that my computer randomly pulls pictures from and displays when it goes into sleep mode.  Right now there are 1,515 pictures in that folder (with six more months to go this year).  That’s just my favorites!  I probably have 10,000 pictures in all from that era.  On my website I have over 50,000!  My work today was reviewing several recent albums I had taken and selected favorites to add to that special folder.  I could spend hours just glaring at those pictures.

 

We opted to get a carryout meal from The Depot tonight.  They have a family chicken tenders meal.  It comes with two sides but we asked that both be baked potatoes.  They gave us eight full baked potatoes!  We love their baked potatoes so that was quite a treat as were the chicken tenders.

 

After dinner we took a short but hot walk at Stewart Middle School.  It was 87o when we started.  Our total for the day was only five miles.

 

This evening we had the weekly Hill Family Zoom.  As always, it was a combination of conversation, mayhem, and fun.  No surprise, I loved it!

 

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               12,155,402              551,183

US                       3,158,731              134,853

Virginia                  67,375                  1,905

Augusta County          201                         2

 

July 9, 2020

Another hot, dry day but at least the forecast is for temperatures to top out in the high 80’s instead of 90’s.  I had to get up early as I had an eye doctor appointment at 8:00 AM in Fishersville.  The appointment went as expected.  The office was very safe.  When I drove into the lot an intake person immediately came to the car, asked me the usual COVID-19 questions, took my temperature, and told me they’d call me when they were ready for me.  At that call, I went straight in to the office and had my evaluation with Dr. Patel.  She was very succinct with the appointment; in the past she has been more personable.  All of this is quite understandable.  The good news is that my eyes basically showed no change.  I have had cataracts in both eyes for a while; neither is an issue.  The official diagnosis is that I have bilateral, age-related, nuclear cataracts.  I also learned a new word:  drusen.  I have drusen of macula in my right eye.  Drusen are wear and tear changes to the retina that are not consistent with macular degeneration but may represent early evidence of the disease.  My brother and sister both have been diagnosed with beginning states of macular degeneration though it is not critical with either of them yet, thankfully.

 

When I got back we took our neighborhood walk as it was already starting to get hot.  We got in 2.8 miles.  As usual, we talked to random people again on our walk.  Today it was a former employee of mine, Doris Gardner, who stopped her car to chat for a moment.  It turns out that her daughter, Brooke Wine, lives very near us on Limestone Road and is a first grade teacher at Clymore Elementary School.  Doris was a great employee; it was great to see her again.

 

After lunch I got all of my grass cut.  I was glad to get this behind me before our Avon Hill vacation.  It has been so hot and dry that it hasn’t grown much lately and hopefully won’t grow much for the next couple of weeks.

 

Lynn and I made a quick trip to our favorite produce market, Overlook Market in Bridgewater, where she picked up some tomatoes and more sour cherries.  She really loves her sour cherry jelly.

 

This afternoon brave Lynn went to Walmart and Kroger to get a few things.  She is always very careful there, avoiding people and keeping her mask on.

 

In COVID-19 news, cases are rising in 36 states.  Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas remain hot spots with ICU facilities at near 100%.  Florida has 56 hospitals with no empty ICU beds.  Many of the states with cases out of control were those who re-opened early and before they met the CDC’s guidelines for opening.  Cars line up for testing for over 24 hours in some cases.

 

Here are the numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               12,350,460              555,894

US                       3,211,610              135,646

Virginia                  67,988                  1,937

Augusta County          200                         2

 

Last night, when we started our last walk it was 87o.  Tonight it was cooler, 84o.  But we chose to go to Gypsy Hill Park where it was 90% shade.  It was a very nice walk.  We ended up the day with six miles walked.  Not bad for two old people in the heat, huh?

 

July 10, 2020

On Good Morning America, the news is that hundreds of cases of COVID-19 are linked to sports and church events.  So how does anyone think schools will be safe for children?

 

My dad was born in 1912 so he grew up when times were very different.  He had a younger brother Harold.  Dad started in school and did very well but after a couple of years of elementary school his mother kept him out for an entire year to give Harold time to grow so he could go to school with my Dad.  I’m not saying that this is an ideal situation, but the point is that he survived and thrived.  Though undesirable, I believe that today’s kids could sit out a year and still come back and do well.

 

Another story comes to mind.  I once took a course in how to teach AP Computer Science.  There were about ten of us in this James Madison University course.  We learned all about a computer language, Pascal, and how to teach it.  But on the last night of class, our professor surprised us when he said that he wouldn’t let his own son take the course!  He objected to all AP courses, asking us why we were trying to cram more into the life of a high school student when life expectancy was longer than ever?  He said that it was the only time in a kid’s life that they could be in a band, drama, and/or chorus.  He said to let them take college courses when they go to college and not before.  So what’s the rush to re-open schools?

 

The other news about coronavirus is same old, same old.  In the hotbed states there’s a shortage of tests, shortage of medical workers, shortage of personal protection equipment.  This was New York six weeks ago.  The difference is that New York got firm with their shelter in place orders whereas states like Arizona have only conceded to a reduction to 50% occupancy in restaurants.  It needs to be 0%.

 

ABC news reported that Trump’s disapproval rate is 67% for how he’s handled the COVID-19 crisis and the same for how he’s handled racial disputes.  These are the two biggest issues of his presidency and he’s failing miserably.  Yet his base is still believing he is God’s gift to the Presidency.  How can anyone think that a rotten onion smells good?

 

I’ve been thinking today about how I’ve spent the nearly four months of this quarantine.  Seven verbs come to mind:  walk, work, eat, sleep, write, watch, and play.

  • I’ll soon calculate how much we’ve walked but at an average of 7 miles per day (it is likely higher), for 120 days, that’s 840 miles. We almost always spend at least two hours every day walking.
  • I’ve done many, many jobs around the house that I normally would not have done such as cleaning out cabinets, mulching, building the Pergola, removing the wall paper and painting the green bathroom, pressure washing lots of surfaces around the house, and my normal trimming and mowing. There are always jobs to be done but, to be honest, my list is rather short now.
  • We’ve eaten superbly thanks to Lynn. Her sourdough bread is great and we eat it every day.  She has done a wonderful job fixing caramel, cakes, chicken, loaded hamburgers, guacamole dip, wine slushies, strawberry preserves, sour cherry jelly, fried potatoes, and more.  Thanks to all the walking and working I’ve done, I’ve not gained weight.  In fact, I actually weigh a little less now than I did back in February.  I’m clearly not eating less.  I confess that I’ve also eaten way too much junk food such as cookies and ice cream cake. It is so hard to not eat when you’re at home all the time and good food is only a few feet away at all times.  Lately I’ve been snacking on delicious cherries and peaches Lynn bought at Aldi.
  • I sleep over eight hours every night. This is so new to me.  When I was working, seven hours of sleep would have been a blessing.  Now we go to bed around 9:00 PM and get up after 6:00 AM.  Sometimes it is light outside when we go to bed and awake!
  • As of today I’ve written nearly 130 pages, single spaced, on this blog. I always write it first on Word then copy and paste it to my online blog.  Since April 20 I haven’t missed a single day writing.  It usually takes me at least 30 minutes to write a day’s record.  As I’ve written before, it is very therapeutic for me to write.
  • No surprise, I’ve watched a good bit of television during the past four months. I’ve mainly watched the news, seeing it in the morning, frequently around lunchtime, and at dinner time.  We like the ABC version of news.  Lynn keeps the television on game shows so it is impossible to not see some of them.  Some of the game shows have been inspiration for the games I’ve created for our family vacation next week at Avon Hill.
  • When I’m not doing any of the previous five activities, frequently I am playing one of three games on my iPad: Sudoku, Whirly Word, or Solitaire.  On April 20 I wrote that I had played 17,820 consecutive games of Whirly Word and 8,311 games of Solitaire.  Today the Whirly Word total is 18,750.  So I’ve played 930 more games since I started writing this blog, not including the ones I’ve done on my iPhone.  To advance from one Whirly Word game to the next, you must get one of the six letter words or at least most of the total number of words that can be made with the six letters that are provided.  I always try to get ALL of the words and 95% of the time I’m successful.  I’ve now played 8,832 games of Solitaire which means I’ve done 521 of them since April 20.  With Sudoku, I always do two puzzles at breakfast–one “mild” and the other “moderate.”  When you complete a Sudoku with the app I play, you are given a percentile of how long it took you to complete it compared with the other thousands who have finished it that day.  When I beat the 50th percentile I am happy.  Today, for example, was a good day because I completed the mild puzzle in the 49th percentile but the moderate one in the 86th percentile.  Some days I’m much, much worse.

 

The news tonight that more records are being set with COVID-19 cases.  Even Virginia was listed as one of the states with an increase in deaths.  There is word of a camp in Missouri that had to be shut down because more than 80 campers came down with the virus.  What does this say about the opening of schools?  Yet Trump and many others are insisting that school not only open this fall, but open with five days of school each week.  I just don’t see it now.

 

NBC News had this to say about Virginia’s school reopening plans:

After an uptick in COVID-19 cases around the state, Gov. Ralph Northam said students won’t move forward with returning back to school in person if Virginia isn’t able to stay in Phase Three.  Northam said that so far, Virginia has been able to avoid the same type of spike in COVID-19 cases that other states are experiencing, but there a concerning increase is starting to be seen, particularly in the Hampton Roads areas.  According to NBC affiliate WAVY, the daily cases in that region have more than tripled in the last two weeks, with more than 220 new cases every day. The percent positivity rate of tests in Norfolk also at more than 16 percent, compared to the 6 percent statewide.

 

We had a short thunderstorm tonight at dinner time but still found a break in which to walk a little afterwards.  I carried an umbrella which we were forced to use during the walk but it really didn’t rain much.  We didn’t get much walking in today.  My health app said I did 4.6 miles.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               12,602,895              561,778

US                       3,285,592              136,570

Virginia                  68,931                  1,958

Augusta County          204                         2

 

This data shows that the US had more than 70,000 infections since the previous day.  That is unreal.  The only good news here is that Augusta County’s death total is still 2, the same it has been since June 2.  I’d be very happy if that number never changed.

 

July 11, 2020

I didn’t have much time to write today.  Today was Saturday, another hot July day.  After breakfast we walked a 3.1 mile hike before it got too hot.  When we got back, Lynn worked on some crafts she has for the kids at Avon Hill next week while I carried all the tools I thought Jim and I would need down to the playground.  He had called me and said he was doing some work at his church this morning then driving here to work on the playground set.

 

The issue with the playground set is basically that it is getting old.  Lynn and I figured out that we installed it at least 11 years ago.  The structure has eight 4″ x 4″ posts that support it.  The bottom of each, which sit in dirt, had deteriorated.  When Jim was here working on Lynn’s Pergola he had a good idea–to buy eight concrete deck blocks.  When he came today we jacked the entire playset off the ground using my digging bar as a lever, cut off the bottom 5″-6″ of each post, inserted the concrete deck blocks below, the lowered the playset back on top of the concrete blocks.  That one sentence took us about three hours but we got it done.  This way the bottoms of the posts no longer rest in the dirt.  Then we went to Lowe’s and bought two 12′ long deck boards.  We cut them into two 8′ lengths and two 4′ lengths and then installed them just above the deck blocks around the perimeter of the playset giving it more rigidity.  I do think the playset is good for another half dozen years which is all it has to make since our youngest grandson, Coen, is three now.

 

Jim is such good help.  He has a good mind to solve problems, great skills with tools, and is very concise with all of his measurements.  He doesn’t rush through a job like his father sometimes does.  He is strong as an ox and has a great set of tools.  I am so proud of him.

 

The only reward he got today was a good lunch and an even better supper.  Lynn and I had thawed two t-bone steaks.  We split one and he ate the other.  Plus, Josh brought us a big mess of green beans from his parents which Lynn cooked.  She also fixed some guacamole dip.  It was a great meal.

 

For dessert, we had some brownies she made this afternoon.  But they weren’t all for us.  Lynn has such a good heart–one morning this past week we bumped into Jeff Michael who lives almost a half mile away near Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church.  His dad, John, lives even closer but has had many medical issues lately including some strokes.  He told us that his dad still was able to eat most anything and loved sweets.  So tonight John Michael had brownies to eat thanks to my good hearted spouse.  What a gal!

 

The CNN news is lamenting how the COVID-19 pandemic is basically out of control in Arizona.  Their hospitals are full.  They don’t have enough health care workers or protective equipment.  Their governor opened up the state way too early in order to appease Donald Trump.  On CNN tonight, I heard a Phoenix Congressman blast the governor and Trump for their lack of leadership.  He told how Arizona has such a poor support mechanism for the poor that they must go back to work in this pandemic which just causes more infections.

 

Brazil reported more than 40,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths just today alone.  They have over 1.8 million cases in all.  Their president, who has said that COVID-19 is as harmless as the flu, now has it himself.  He has ignored social distancing and wouldn’t wear a mask.

 

Donald Trump was seen today wearing a mask!  It took him four months to get the message.  What a leader!

 

Here are the figures:

Infected                   Died

World               12,839,566              567,574

US                       3,355,646              137,403

Virginia                  69,782                  1,962

Augusta County          205                         2

We closed the day with a final walk before sunset in the neighborhood.  The health app on my iPhone said I had walked 7.6 miles today.  Whew!

 

July 12, 2020

Today is packing up day for our Avon Hill trip.  Though we’re looking forward to this four day, three night, outing, it isn’t the summer vacation we had planned.  We wanted to return to Eden Resort in Lancaster along with Mary K and Kit’s family for our annual “Cousincation” but we all decided that would be too risky especially given the community pools there.  So our family opted for Avon Hill since it is much closer, only 75 minutes away, and has a private pool that will be ours for the duration of our stay.  Unfortunately Jim and his family won’t be joining us.  So there will be twelve of us there.

 

Since we had done Eden Resort for so many consecutive years, we knew how to pack for it.  This is a little different since now we’re renting a (huge) house and having to provide some things that Eden provided.  Plus, there’s no restaurant or grocery store close by though Scottsville VA is only twenty minutes or so away.  I’ve got elaborate lists prepared including what food and non-food items to bring.  Our plans for dinner are to have pot luck on Monday, the first night, then grill on Tuesday and bring in from Scottsville or Charlottesville on Wednesday.

 

Lynn has been baking all day.  She’s making sourdough bread, pepperoni rolls, hamburger rolls, and a coca-cola cake all from scratch.  Though each family is supposed to bring their own food especially for breakfasts and lunches, I think we’re taking enough for a small army.  We’ve got a huge container of cherries which everyone loves.  Tomorrow morning before we leave she’s going to make a rotini salad.  And we’re going to buy tomatoes, peaches, and corn from Overlook Market in Bridgewater.  Good eating, for sure!  She’s also done a couple loads of laundry.

 

One of the things I like best about Lynn is how hard working she is.  She rarely sits down and does nothing or just watch television.  She’s always doing some kind of work or activity.  Since today is Sunday, I found this quote from Proverbs 31 which describes her very well:

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

We did stick to our routine and got a morning walk in.  We did the usual 2.8 neighborhood walk.  The weather was fine, especially at the beginning, though it got hot by the time we were on the last half mile.

 

I found time today to listen to Central’s Sunday morning worship service via YouTube.  Actually I had a part in that service as I was asked to do a stewardship message and the congregational prayer.  Deborah Reed played the piano wonderfully on it.  She and Yi-Ping Chen are such gifted musicians.  I’m going to play some hymns for the August 2 service.  I’m sure my piano playing will make our members appreciate Deborah and Yi-Ping even more.

 

We’ve kept the television on CNN News most of the day.  It can be so depressing or enraging.  Many governors and mayors, like our federal administration, act like COVID-19 is nothing but a nuisance.  Betsy DeVos insists that kids need to be back in school full time and blasted Fairfax County in VA for offering kids an alternative to do online instead of in person education and the in person education will initially be only two days per week.  Yet the Fairfax County superintendent of schools pointed out that if the social distancing requirement is to be met, his buildings would need to be five times larger than they are in order to accommodate everyone at the same time.  Plus, he’d probably need five times the faculty.  A newspaper article in today’s Staunton newspaper pointed out that substitute teachers will likely be harder than ever to find this year.

 

Three of Ann and Josh’s kids, Henry, Gus, and Betsy, will be in middle or high school this year so if/when they go back to school they’ll just ride the bus home afterwards.  But there’s no bus that could take Freddie there from Clymore Elementary School so he’ll have to come here on days he attends.  Ann has said that she or Josh would try to meet the bus here every time so he wouldn’t have to come into our house after being in what could be an infectious environment at school.  We’ll just have to see how this plays out.

 

From ABC news today:  The Florida Department of Health reported 15,300 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, making it the highest one-day total for a state in the U.S. since the pandemic began. It is nearly 4,000 more new cases than the previous record, set by California on Wednesday with 11,694.

 

And where is the Republican National Convention going to be held?  In Jacksonville FL on August 24-27.  Good luck, attendees!

 

And here’s a sad story from Houston:  “I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”  Those were the final words of a 30-year-old patient who died at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio this week after attending a so-called “COVID party,” according to the hospital.  Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Children’s Hospital, said in a recorded statement that the unidentified patient told nurses about the party, which she said is hosted by someone diagnosed with coronavirus.  “The thought is people get together to see if the virus is real and if anyone gets infected,” Appleby said.

 

We got in our second walk of the day before supper for a change.  We weren’t that hungry because we had a huge snack mid-afternoon when each of us had a piece of our Smiley’s Ice Cream cake.  It rained late afternoon so when it cleared the temperature was nice so we walked our neighborhood walk again.  Our total for the day was 6.3 miles.  This hike had a repeat occurrence from one of our previous walks this month–a cow was seen in an unfenced lot near where the rest of the herd is fenced in.  Lynn again texted the owners to let them know.

 

After another good dinner, we packed Lynn’s car as much as we could.  A lot of what we’re taking is food and that will have to wait until tomorrow.  We have a busy morning planned before leaving for Avon Hill around noon.  Check in time is 2:00.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               13,022,407              571,000

US                       3,411,808              137,773

Virginia                  70,670                  1,966

Augusta County          208                         2

 

July 13, 2020

New coronavirus cases are on the rise in 37 states but not Virginia.  Even New York had zero deaths yesterday for the first time since the pandemic started. Meantime, Florida set a record for the number of cases in one state yet their Republican Governor claimed it was all due to increased testing.  The testing is still an issue as results take up to two weeks to come back in some cases.

 

Here’s a Betsy DeVos quote from yesterday:  “There is nothing in the data that suggests that kids being back in school is dangerous to them.”  How ridiculous!  A camp in Georgia had to close because 85 of its campers and counselors came down with the virus.  School aged children in many states have died due to complications of COVID-19.  How would schools be exempt from infections?

 

After breakfast we headed for the Green Valley Book Fair.  It was opened only by reservation and Lynn made reservations for both of us at its opening, 8:00 AM.   There were about 50 people who registered for that time, apparently, though we felt safe since you had to have a mask on to be admitted and the venue was a pavilion surrounded by the outside.  The stuff there was a little junky–there were no books.  Nonetheless we spent some money on some items we can give away for kids’ prizes at Avon Hill.

 

From the Book Fair, we drove to Overlook Produce to get tomatoes, peaches, and corn.  It was a successful trip as well.  So we came on home where Lynn fixed the rotini salad and finished packing her stuff while I did a trash run including stopping at Ann and Josh’s.

 

I had hoped to leave home at noon but Kay and family are coming to visit Mrs. Hanger and she won’t be here until after that then we’ll be making the stop at The Legacy.

 

We have one packed Toyota Rav4 for our Avon Hill vacation!

 

We got a later start than planned because Kay wanted to visit with her grandmother.  Everything worked out fine.  By 4:30 everyone was at Avon Hill enjoying its comforts.

 

It was a great day.  The kids swam then we ate a huge and delicious dinner.  After dinner some went swimming again and others relaxed.   In the meantime, I figured out how to hook my computer to the large screen television just in time to play our family version of  “America Says.”  It was great fun.

 

After a late night dessert that Ann had prepared, everyone was very tired.  A great start to our family vacation.  We do miss Jim’s family; perhaps next year….

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               13,235,760              575,525

US                       3,479,483              138,247

Virginia                  71,642                  1,968

Augusta County          213                         2

 

Good night from Avon Hill!

 

July 14, 2020

This is our first full day at Avon Hill.  It started early after a late night.  I was up at 6:15 but was not the first up.  Betsy got up and took pictures of sunrise before I came down.  Once everyone was up, we ate breakfast then prepared to go tubing on the James River with an outfit called James River Runners.

 

I have a few confessions.  First, I did not come up with the idea of tubing.  Kay had suggested it and I had reservations about us doing it.  My reservations were primarily because I worried about the kids riding an innertube in a huge river which I assumed was a fast and deep river since it is one of Virginia’s main rivers.  I was completely wrong.  The river was 4′ deep at its deepest point.  It was very slow moving; the kids from time to time said they weren’t going anywhere.  And everyone had a good time except that the smallest got a little bored with it.  It was very relaxing and cool–a great thing to do on a hot day.  It was safe and a good family activity.

 

The way it worked is that we left our car keys with them and put everything of value in our cars.  They transported us via school bus three miles upstream then we drifted back to the home location where our cars were.  It all worked well.

 

My other confession is that I have a tendency to get very anxious and hard to be around any time there is a scheduled event and my group is running behind schedule.  We made a reservation with James River Runners last night; we were to be there at 9:30 and leave on their bus at 10:00.  I reminded our group all throughout breakfast that we needed to leave at 9:00 so we’d be there by 9:30.  The closer it got to 9:00 the more hard to live with I got and poor Lynn had to bear the brunt of my anxiety.  Fortunately, this is the only event of our entire vacation that had a definite starting time so I should be less anxious the rest of the time we’re here.

 

When we got back we had lunch then chilled at the Lodge until Lynn had the kids do a craft mid-afternoon.  She had purchased boards from Michael’s that had a rope on the end of them for hanging up.  Then she created stencils on her Criquet machine with each chld’s name.  The affixed the stencil to each board and brought paint for the kids to paint their name on their sign.  I thought it was a very good idea.  To make sure everything worked OK, she did two trial runs with our two grandchildren Faron and Coen who couldn’t come with us this vacation.  She cut the stencils for Faron and Coen then painted them on the boards.  She gave them to Jim when he came home to help me with the playground equipment last Friday.

 

I am so pleased that I discovered how easy it was to attach a HDMI cable to my laptop and to the huge television in the “Blue Room” in the lodge.  For much of the time, I set my screensaver to display random pictures from my picture album called 2019-2020 Favorites.  Since most of my favorites were pictures of my grandchildren, their pictures were displayed for everyone to see throughout our stay at Avon Hill.

 

The kids seemed to enjoy painting their names on the boards.  When they were finished, we decided to take a hike down to the Rockfish River to scope out fishing possibilities.  It turned out to be a long but pretty walk.  We took a wrong turn at one point and had to ramble through a thicket of weeds and briars.  Once we got back on the right trail it was very nice.  We discovered why this place is called Avon HILL, though.  It was quite a climb back up to the lodge from the river.

 

The kids were anxious to get back in the pool and can’t be blamed. It was hot and they rarely get to swim this summer thanks to COVID-19.  I haven’t been in a pool this entire summer so I decided to join them.  Boy, did it feel good!

 

After that refreshing dip in the pool, we returned to the lodge and fixed supper.  Tonight was grill night.  I grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  We had lots of other food including green beans, two pasta salads, tomato pie, and broccoli.

 

The past two days have been an oasis, an island.  It is as if there is no pandemic going on.  We haven’t watched the news nor talked much about it though the topic of school in the fall has come up often. We haven’t kept our social distance nor worn masks here at Avon Hill, of course.  We’ve just been family and it has been great.  I am SO glad we did this.

 

Today’s COVID-19 stats:

Infected                   Died

World               13,486,823              581,965

US                       3,546,278              139,162

Virginia                  72,443                  1,977

Augusta County          213                         2

 

The night activity was more family games.  Near sunset, the kids and I played can jam then they played hide-and-go-seek.  After dark, we did a game where one person tried to get his teammates to say a word with clues he gave.  Then we played a rousing game of reverse charades where all of the team acted out a word and one person on the team had to guess it.  Kay had brought this game along with her.  It was a great success.  We played boys versus girls.  I went to bed a worn out but extremely happy old man.

 

July 15, 2020

I was up at dawn after a good night’s sleep.  It gave me a chance to catch up on this blog and read a little about what’s going on in the world.  I had a full hour of quiet time by myself.

 

The weather on this vacation has been superb.  Yes, it has been hot, but we’ve been able to stay cool thanks to tubing on the James River, swimming in the pool at Avon Hill, and air conditioning at the lodge.  The highs have been in the high 80’s with mostly clear skies.  We are so lucky!

 

After breakfast, the first activity of the day was group pictures in our “Coronacation 2020” shirts Lynn had made for everyone.  It has certainly been a “coronacation” in which we’ve enjoyed each other’s company without worrying about or mixing with the outside world.  The pictures came out fine, I thought.

 

Today was fishing day.  We had brought along enough fishing gear for all the kids to fish and on our hike yesterday found some good places to fish on the Rockfish River.  There hasn’t been much rain late so the river isn’t very high.

 

None of us is an experience fisherman.  Ann and Josh had purchased some spinning reels for their kids but they didn’t come supplied with fishing line.  Henry and I tried to figure out how to install the line on the reel but ran out of time before dinner to get the job done.  Fortunately, Ann figured it out thanks to YouTube so we were ready when the morning came.

 

Fishing was OK but not the best of activities for us.  Poor Gus not only fell in the river but then got stung by a bee.  The only ones to catch a small fish were Andy, Thomas, and Georgia.  There were lots of tangled lines and lines caught in trees.  But it was shady and fun to watch the kids.  Henry and I stuck it out until 2:00 pm without catching anything.  We saw some really large fish which we later tentatively identified as gar.  But they weren’t biting today.

 

Lynn did a craft with the kids today making pens using clay.  We tried to do glow-in-the-dark bubbles tonight but that didn’t work as planned.

 

After fishing and lunch the kids watched a video while the grownups sat around and talked.  Then we all went swimming, which felt really good on a 90o day.  During that time we ordered pizza from a restaurant in Scottsville which Ann and Lynn picked up while the rest of us swam and played corn hole.  The pizza was quite good and we had plenty left over.

 

After dinner the kids did their scavenger hunt which I had made up for them.  Then we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.  We ended the evening playing three more rounds of our family version of “America Says.”  There were lots of laughs and love in the room!  I am so, so thankful that we were able to get together as a family and just wish again that Jim and his family could have joined us.

 

Like the previous days here, I didn’t watch one minute of news so I don’t know what’s going on in the world.  I did look up the numbers for today and here they are:

Infected                   Died

World               13,691,627              586,821

US                       3,616,747              140,140

Virginia                  73,527                  1,992

Augusta County          218                         2

 

After we finished our last game tonight we took turns saying what we liked best about this vacation.  Here are some of the responses:  the pool, the sunsets on the porch, having the pictures displayed on the big screen television, the food, tubing, nature, the house, having the ground to ourselves, the closeness of Avon Hill to home, the property, and the activities like the games and crafts.  We are such lucky people to be able to share our lives with each other.  I feel especially blessed and thankful.

 

July 16, 2020

Lynn is currently driving home from Avon Hill and I’m in the passenger seat writing.  We’re both still on a high from having spent four days and three nights in an oasis-like setting surrounded by most of our family.  We’re also understandably down that it’s over now.

 

Of course, it took lots of time to pack and clean up before our 12:00 checkout time but we made it.  There was still time for Andy and Thomas to fish and the rest of the kids to go with me to the pool for one last swim.  The pool was really nice, especially for kids the ages of our grandchildren who swim well and like to do so.

 

I took nearly 400 photos at Avon Hill.  I’ll upload them to Flickr when we get home.  I may even go to Central UMC to do the job since Central’s connection is so fast and I have some work to do there.  I especially like the family pictures with everyone dressed in the “Coronocation” shirts Lynn made.

 

There were just a few things we didn’t like about Avon Hill.  The WIFI there was slow though it worked for most of what we wanted to do.  Streaming the movie for the kids wasn’t pretty, though.  A minor item is that there was no garbage disposal.  We would have liked to have had a basketball goal and a level field for kickball.  None of these items ruined our stay.  I think every one of us would enjoy coming back in the future.  Kay told me she liked it much better than Eden Resort.  The Lodge was so large that kids had plenty of places to themselves and so did the adults.

 

On our way home we experienced something we didn’t experience at all at Avon Hill–rain.  We’ve been so fortunate on our trips and vacations the last several years.

 

We were home at 1:15.  It took a little over an hour to get everything unloaded and put back in place.  Back to normal life now!

 

One of the first thing Lynn wanted to do was to see her mother.  Mrs. Hanger is now two weeks away from being 101 years old.  Last week was not a good week for her, health wise, so Lynn’s concern was very understandable.  But she reported that her mother was doing well.  She said she was sitting up, being alert and coherent, and seemed to be fine.  Great news.

 

While she did that, I went to Central UMC and uploaded my pictures to Flickr.  As I expected, it went very fast there, around 5 seconds per photo.  This made my day.  My pictures are my gold.  I’ll spend plenty of time watching them over and over again.

On the way home, Lynn did some quick shopping at Kroger in Staunton.  When we got home, I discovered something that upset me–the deer have been eating my tomato plants and tomatoes.  The tops of many of them have been chewed off and the nearly ready-to-pick tomatoes that were here before we went to Avon Hill are gone.  I have worked much harder than usual on the garden this year.  Before we left I saw no evidence of deer in it but today I could clearly see it.  So I constructed an emergency second fence around it made of stakes in the ground wrapped with fishing line.  I’ve heard from several people that this works.  We’ll see.  I had to rob fishing line off some of our old reels in order to find the line.  I was not happy doing this….

 

We heard from all of the children that they made it home safely so, indeed, we were blessed with this vacation.  Soon after we got home we texted Jim to see how he was doing and we set up a zoom session with him, Faron, and Coen this evening shortly after supper.  It worked well.  The boys are so talkative now.  It was really fun to listen to them.  As always, Jim is working his butt off with odd jobs for people.

 

Before the zoom session we found time to take a two mile hike.  Lynn managed to keep up her walking at Avon Hill, walking frequently with Kay.  But I slacked off a little, getting in 3.0 miles on Monday, 2.8 on Tuesday, 3.0 on Wednesday, and 4.8 today.

 

As we were winding down the zoom meeting with Jim and family, the entire Gutshall family came in.  They had asked if they could come over and watch Hamilton at our house since we have a good internet connection and a Disney+ subscription.  There was some of Lynn’s amazing Coca-Cola Cake left over from the Avon Hill trip which worked great for a dessert for all of us.

 

We heard yesterday that there will be no high school football in Virginia this fall.  The hope is that there will be a winter sports schedule, followed by an abbreviated fall schedule in February – April, then a shortened spring sports schedule.  It all depends on a vaccine, of course.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               13,935,938              591,935

US                       3,693,694              141,095

Virginia                  74,431                  2,007

Augusta County          219                         2

 

So Virginia has topped 2,000 deaths.  The US doesn’t show any signs of slowing down its infection rate–every day there are over 1,000 new deaths from it.  I guess we’re back to the real world now.

 

July 17, 2020

Yes, we were back in the real world today.  Turns out, it didn’t change much while we were on vacation.  No news on a vaccine.  More news about record infections.  More ambiguity about schools opening in the fall.  Lots of sunshine and heat.  Walking twice in one day again.

After breakfast, I had to go to Augusta Health for a blood test.  This is because I have an appointment in two weeks with Dr. Gillock at Blue Ridge Urology.  I had to get my PSA level tested which involves a blood test.  I was apprehensive about going to the hospital but the process was very safe.  My temperature was checked as I entered the building.  They called down to the laboratory to make sure there was room in the waiting room which there was.  I only had to wait a few minutes to get registered and even less to get tested.  In about ten minutes I was back in the car on the way home.

 

The news today is the usual:

  • There were a record number of new cases in the US today, 77,000 new cases for the second day in a row. This is more than three times what it was just a month ago.  Texas had 174 fatalities in one day, the third day in a row of record deaths.  Staffing shortages exist in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
  • The mask debate goes on. Thirty states have a mask mandate.  Some governors still refuse to enact a mandate.
  • The school debate also rages. California just decided to NOT open schools until the infections drop for fourteen straight days.  The CDC is coming out with additional guidelines about school opening but they have decided to delay releasing it until the end of July.  And get this–the White House blocked Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from testifying before Congress next week on how to reopen schools safely.
  • Testing is a mess. People in some cities wait for hours and hours on testing.  In Florida, it takes up to 18 days to get back the results of a test.

 

As soon as I got back Lynn and I took a morning two mile walk.  She didn’t have a lot of time because she had to help her mother with lunch today.  Fortunately, her mom was doing fine today.  While she was there, I tried to find out information from Verizon on getting her a new phone because hers has been nothing but trouble lately.  For example, there have been times when I’ve stood right beside her, called her, and her phone wouldn’t even ring.  Yet it would go to Voicemail which she would get.  We had her phone exchanged and even after that this happened.  With her birthday coming up next week, I decided to move on getting a new one for her.

 

It wasn’t a pleasant experience.  The Verizon Wireless website was no help.  I tried an online chat with a representative who apparently didn’t understand me (or English) very well.  I gave up and made an appointment at the local Verizon store.  Then I called Lynn and asked her to go with me.  The phone won’t be a surprise for her birthday but it is much needed.

 

We ended up getting her an iPhone SE.  It is basically the iPhone 11 in an iPhone 8 case.  We paid for it and brought it home though we’re not going to activate it until a protective case for it comes next week from Amazon.

 

We didn’t do much else in the afternoon.  We did make a trip to Overlook Market to buy some tomatoes and a peach pie.  Lynn also bought some groceries at Aldi.  No surprise, she also did lots of laundry today after our trip.

 

After dinner this evening, we went to Gypsy Hill Park and walked our usual two laps.  For the day, my iPhone health app said I’d walked 5.9 miles.  The next week is supposed to be one with higher temperatures and high humidity.  I’m not looking forward to walking then.  Even this evening the temperature was near 90o when we left for Gypsy Hill Park.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               14,175,994              598,446

US                       3,766,605              141,976

Virginia                  75,433                  2,013

Augusta County          221                         2

 

Harrisonburg now has over 1,000 cases.  That means that one out of every fifty people you see in Harrisonburg has been infected.

 

July 18, 2020

 

The next several days are supposed to be extremely hot with highs in the mid to upper 90’s and high humidity.  We were smart enough to walk early today, getting two miles under our belts before 8:30 AM.   Charlottesville has already reported a record of 23 consecutive days of 90o or higher with predictions for the next seven days to keep that record going.

 

Lynn and I have already started talking about going somewhere in August.  We just haven’t decided when or where.  We both like having something to look forward to and plan for.

 

Lynn had her friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright over this morning for an outside, socially-distant get-together.  They would have liked to have gone garage sale shopping but since they can’t ride in the same vehicle they decided to just stay home and chat.

 

I worked on my pictures today, making backups of the Avon Hill photos and picking out my favorites from those 400 pictures to add to my folder called 2019-20 Favorites.  I could spend hours and hours watching those pictures.

 

Lynn got an offer by mail that I decided to take.  When we were at Avon Hill I enjoyed listening to SiriusXM which the Lodge had in each room.  The mail offer was that for $5 a month for a year she could reinstate SiriusXM on her car’s radio, which we had let expire, and also add it to the Alexa devices in our home.  Plus they gave us a free Amazon Echo Dot.  I like listening to the country music channels and am doing so right now as I write this.  The key to this deal is to cancel it mid-July 2021 else the monthly fee jumps to $22.  I put a reminder on our calendar for July 15 to cancel it.  It took a while to get it all set up on the Alexa devices but everything is fine now.

 

With nothing else to do and things we needed from the store, we opted to go to Costco this afternoon.  Lynn has gone several times in the past few months and told me it was always safe.  Today it was very, very busy and I would not have rated it as super safe.  There were just too many people under one roof.

 

After a very good dinner featuring tomato pie and a zucchini casserole we had some of the peach pie we had purchased from Overlook Market.  Yum!  After all that eating we had to walk to work off some of the calories so we did the 2.8 mile hike around our neighborhood despite 90o temperature.  Fortunately, there was a huge cloud in the sky which hid the sun.  Our total for the day was 5.6 miles.  Not bad for two old people on a very hot night!

 

Here are today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World               14,407,642              604,103

US                       3,831,679              142,861

Virginia                  76,373                  2,025

Augusta County          225                         2

 

July 19, 2020

Last night after I had showered I noticed a bump on my left heel.  Lynn confirmed that it was a tick.  She pulled it out with tweezers and put hydrogen peroxide and an antibiotic cream on it.  Naturally this worried me but this morning when I read more about Lyme Disease I learned that not all ticks carry it and even if I do get infected it is easily treated with drugs like amoxicillin.  I have to wait a week and see if I get a tell-tale rash where the bite occurred.

 

We watched a Netflix movie, How Do You Know, before falling asleep.  We’ve now watched five or six movies since this pandemic started. None of them have been that good.  The movie industry has been shut down by COVID-19.  We can only hope that when they resume business the quality of the movies they produce is better than what we’ve watched on Netflix.

 

To beat the heat we walked our 2.8 mile route in the neighborhood.  It was nice when we left home but by the time we got back it was 83o.  In general, though, it was a pleasant walk.  It may very well be the only walk we’ll get in today due to the heat and a Covenant Group meeting we have this evening at the Bauman’s.

 

There were deer footprints in my garden again today.  It rained last night so the footprints were fresh.  One of my fishing line posts was bent over, too.  I fixed it back and even suspended a wind chime where it had entered hoping this would deter future visits.  We have lots of tomatoes coming if they will just have a chance to grow before the deer eats them and destroys the plants.

 

It was just too darned hot to do anything this afternoon.   We made a quick trip to the Gutshall’s to drop off some items of theirs from our house.  But after that we just took it easy.  Lynn even took a nap, something she almost never does.  I enjoyed our new SiriusXM radio by listening to a country station while working puzzles.

 

My brother Butch is having it awfully tough now.  He spends most of his days in Columbus visiting Ann whose progress has been very slow.  Today he found out that she will likely be moved to a skilled nursing facility soon.  The downfall there is that, due to COVID-19, they do not allow any visitors unlike the hospital where he is allowed to visit her daily.

 

I am a very, very poor reader.  My reading skills are fine but my reading desire is low.  You will never find me at the library unless I need Wifi.  But actually I just bought a book on Amazon and started reading it today.  It is The Language of God by Francis S. Collins.  Francis Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project and one of the world’s leading scientists. He is Dr. Fauci’s boss.  Interestingly, he is from Staunton and is a graduate of Lynn’s high school, Robert E. Lee High.  His book lays out the argument for God and science co-existing.  I’m sure I will agree with much he has to say.

 

Here are some very different news story titles from ABC news:

  • New York state COVID hospitalizations hit new low, says Cuomo
  • South Carolina sees new daily case record
  • Florida reports another 12,000-plus new cases
  • COVID-19 ‘more rampant in Louisiana now than it has ever been,’ governor warns
  • US death count rises 19%
  • 19 states set single-day high this week
  • 25 million Iranians infected, president says (this one is bizarre since there are about 15 million worldwide reported as infected including nearly 4 million in the US)

 

Tonight was Covenant Group.  There were eight of us who met at the Bauman’s.  We just chatted the whole time, primarily about COVID-19 and its issues.  We all get along well so it was good conversation.

 

We got home a little past 9:00.  It was not quite dark and we didn’t have our 10,000 steps in so we grabbed a flashlight and took a late night walk.  This was the first time we’ve done that.  We just walked up to Mt. Pisgah UMC but even that walk was eventful.  First we saw Denise Michael and asked her about her parents.  Then when we got to the church, there were two vehicles there, one with a flat tire.  We helped the people there some until more help came so we walked on home.  We did get our steps in–4.7 miles in all.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               14,640,375              608,857

US                       3,898,550              143,289

Virginia                  77,430                  2,027

Augusta County          226                         2

 

July 20, 2020

I began writing this blog three months ago on April 20, 2020.  At that time, we had been isolated in our homes for over a month.  So we’re now well past four months of this pandemic.  Things are very much the same as they were in April except the spread of COVID-19 has been greatly extended.  The world has six times more cases than it did on that date.  The United States has five times more cases and over three times more deaths.  Virginia has more than eight times as many cases and over six times as many deaths.  Augusta County has ten times more cases and has had two deaths compared to zero in April.

 

Reuters news reported today “Throughout the United States, every metric to measure the outbreak is going in the wrong direction – rising cases, deaths, hospitalizations and positivity rates of test results. Despite record levels of new cases nationwide, the Trump administration is pushing for schools to reopen in a few weeks and resisting a federal mandate to wear masks in public. Trump, who faces a tough battle for re-election in November, defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in an interview broadcast on Sunday. The United States, with 3.7 million total cases, has almost as many infections as the next three hardest-hit countries combined – Brazil, India and Russia.”

 

There is some news of hope this morning.  A vaccine being developed in Oxford England has shown good promise in stopping COVID-19.  So far, it shows that those who took it developed both antibodies and T-cells that fight the virus.  And it appears safe.  Researchers there say it may be available in a few months but, realistically, it will be 2021 before it is available to the masses.  There are several other vaccines being tested but this is the first that has had such good results.  Let’s all hope this is what we’ve been looking for….

 

Today was counting day at Central UMC.  Sam Richardson and I counted the few checks that had been received and deposited them in the bank.  Afterwards, I met Lynn at Gypsy Hill Park where we walked two laps.  For most of the way, we walked with Johnny Sayers and had good conversation with him.  Having a vibrant conversation definitely makes the walk go faster.  Lynn and I are good talkers with each other but when you’re with a person 24/7 it is hard to then chat non-stop when you’re walking.

 

It was also Food Bank pickup day for me so after lunch I took my truck to transport 660 pounds of food from the Verona Food Bank to Central UMC.  It went as planned.

 

Thirty nine states, including Virginia, reported today an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.  The stupid Governor of Missouri said “if they do get COVID-19, which they will, they are not going to hospitals.  They’re going to go home and get over it.”  Does he think they will be home by themselves?

 

Along that line, the largest teachers union in Florida sued Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday over his administration’s push to fully reopen all public schools next month — even as the number of coronavirus cases in the state is spiking.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               14,838,095              612,422

US                       3,959,612              143,760

Virginia                  78,375                  2,031

Augusta County          227                         2

 

Lynn cut my hair again tonight.  It was getting way too long for me.  I think she does a fine job.  She’s getting her hair cut tomorrow.  No, I’m not cutting it!

 

I spent some time again today reading The Language of God.  Parts of it are quite deep and tough to read.  But the message is clear that science and religion are complementary.  Our Covenant Group may be reading and discussing this book.  Collins is a very, very brilliant man.  Thus, his writing is considerably above what I usually read.

 

The big news in our family today is that we have a new driver in the family.  Henry passed his test and now has a Learner’s Permit.  I think of him as being very responsible.  I think he will be a fine driver.

 

We had to wait until a storm passed, but Lynn and I managed to get in a second walk tonight after dinner.  It was still hot but we walked the 2.8 mile hike.  Our total for the day was over six miles.

 

July 21, 2020

From ABC news this morning:  There are more than 57,000 new cases in the US with 40 states seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases including Virginia.  39 states report an increase in hospitalizations including Virginia.  But the news also reported optimism regarding two possible vaccines.  It seems that we’ve just got to hold tight until early 2021.  That won’t be easy!

 

The temperature was still in the 70’s when we took our morning walk.  It was sunny so even though the temperature wasn’t that overbearing it was still hot.  It is surprising how much hotter the direct sun makes you feel regardless of the temperature.  Sometimes when we walk and enter shade it seems to be 10o cooler.

 

Today was one of the most boring days I’ve had during the pandemic.  I didn’t really have any work project to do and I did none!  I rode with Lynn to get some tomatoes at Overlook Produce and chatted with Ann and family when they stopped by to drop off Gus’ PS4 for an overnight update using our Wifi.

 

The issue of school is still a hot one.  Augusta County Schools are having students come two days per week and doing the rest virtually.  We don’t know which two days the Gutshall kids will be going but have been told that they would all be going the same days.  Lynn and I still think it is possible that Governor Northram will cancel school for the first six weeks or so because even here in Virginia the number of COVID-19 cases is rising.  Some of the worst outbreaks in the country have been from institutional gatherings such as churches.  It seems like school would just be a breeding ground for the virus.

 

The only excitement for me today was that while Lynn and I were talking to Jim on my iPhone, I was washing dishes.  I set my phone on the counter with it on speaker so both of us could hear.  Lynn accidentally hit something which bounced down and knocked my phone in the dishpan which was full of soapy water.  I fumbled to get it out and was surprised that when I got it Jim was still there though the volume was lower.  We called Jim back on her phone and put mine in a bag of rice.  I’m happy to report that it seems to work fine now.  Whew!

 

Lynn and I are considering a day trip sometime soon to a park or somewhere we haven’t been so we can walk.  She doesn’t want to go far away from her mother at this time.  She visited with her mom this afternoon who was doing OK although she had not had a good morning.  Only nine more days before she turns 101!

 

We both watch the news throughout the day both on ABC and CNN.  She watches lots of game shows.  When she leaves to visit her Mom, I usually turn the television off because I like quiet whereas she likes noise.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               15,083,266              618,438

US                       4,028,014              144,937

Virginia                  79,371                  2,048

Augusta County          227                         2

 

Virginia’s infections were right at 1,000 more than the previous day.  The CDC today said that the number actually infected is likely from 6 to 24 times the number reported.  If that’s the case, then the US could have 40 million or more who have been infected!  The population of the US is about 330 million.  So one out of eight Americans has already had it????

 

We were able to get a second walk in between storms and ended up with 6.5 miles for the day.  Not bad for two old people!

 

July 22, 2020

My beliefs that my iPhone has survived the dip into the dishwater have been up and down.  Last night it would turn on and off but I couldn’t get it to charge.  This morning I made an appointment at the local Verizon Wireless store to possibly have it replaced.  I was especially worried that I couldn’t get it to backup to my computer.  Then I fiddled more with it, scraping out the charging port and blowing air from an air canister into it.  It worked!  I was able to get it backed up and now it is charging as always.  I gladly canceled the VZ appointment.

 

Tonight is our family Zoom night.  We’ve invited Ann’s family over so use our Verizon connection to zoom and eat dessert.  We need to empty out our freezer space because on Friday we’ll be picking up Lynn’s big ice cream cake for her birthday.

 

We played it smart again by walking our 2.8 mile route before it got unbearable outside.  On our walk we ran into two cows outside their pasture.  Lynn and I were able to get the calf back in by opening the gate and shooing it back in but the full sized one is still in an adjacent field.  We notified two people about it and feel like that’s the best we can do.

 

You know it’s a boring day for me when I read.  I read more of The Language of God today.  It rained this afternoon though I did manage to get in a run to the dump, including a stop to get Ann and Josh’s trash, before the rain came.

 

Lynn had a busier day.  She visited with her mom, had an hour long conversation with the student she tutors, had a Zoom meeting as part of Central UMC’s Staff Parish Relations Committee, and translated a document for Rockingham County Public Schools.  She makes me look lazy.

 

In the news tonight, the US had over 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours for the first time in two weeks.  California has over 12,000 new cases, passing New York in the number of infections.  60% of cases in Los Angeles are among young adults.  Even Trump encouraged Americans to wear masks and told younger people to avoid packed bars.  Nine states set records for hospitalizations.  A new study about antibodies that infected people developed said that they wore off after just 90 days.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               15,341,187              625,073

US                       4,093,662              146,042

Virginia                  80,393                  2,051

Augusta County          230                         2

Another thousand new cases in Virginia.

 

Tonight was Zoom night but it didn’t work out.  First, Kay called us to say that Arlington had been hit by a terrible storm and they had lost power.  Even their cell towers were out; she called from her car on the way into her office.  And Jim apparently didn’t get the message.  The Gutshall family came over to our house for ice cream cake instead.

 

Henry drove them.  He should be a fine driver.  He is a smart, responsible young man.

 

Our walking total for the day wasn’t as good as some days, 5.2 miles.  At least we exceeded 10,000 steps.

 

July 23, 2020

I am really bummed out over my tomato plants.  I tilled the garden, planted twenty tomato plants, and spent lots of time weeding and tying up the plants.  I watered them on occasion.  They were a little slow coming along but before we went to Avon Hill there were probably 60 small tomatoes ripening.  This morning there are virtually none.  The deer have eaten the tops off of nearly every plant as well as any tomato larger than a golf ball.  I have never seen the deer in the garden but there are tracks throughout it.  Plus we see the deer in the fields adjacent to our house.  We even had one tomato plant at the bottom of our back steps that had its top eaten off.  This is infuriating to me.  I’m ready to give up trying to garden at all.

 

After sitting around most of the morning doing nothing productive I decided to haul the clothes line poles to the dump in Greenville.  This was no small task because both were loaded with concrete at their bases, about 15″ x 20″.  There is no way I could pick either of them up but I could roll them using the horizontal clothes line poles as a turning wheel.  I pulled my trailer near to the tennis court, aimed downhill, and rolled the poles, one at a time, onto the trailer.  Then I secured them down and took them to the dump.  I had previously called the landfill because I needed to be told what to do with them once I got there.  Every other time I’ve taken trash there you have to transfer your trash into one of their bins which means lifting it.  I was told to take the load directly to the landfill and roll them off, which I did.  The entire operation only took about two hours.  I feel better about getting something worthwhile done today.

 

When I got back home Lynn was in the middle of a Facetime session with Jim, Faron, and Coen.  That was a great time to come back!  I enjoyed talking and listening to those three for a while.  The little boys are very talkative.

 

Lynn’s early birthday present was a new iPhone which we picked up last week but didn’t activate until today when her protective case arrived.  I spent a good bit of time getting it activated, restoring the settings from a backup of her previous phone, and transferring all of the music we own to it.  Her iPhone 6 was giving her fits; I hope this new iPhone SE will work much better.  So far, so good.

 

Setting up her phone using the MacBook wasn’t easy because it has such a small hard drive that it can’t hold all of our music.  I really miss having a desktop iMac with a large hard drive.  Maybe next month we can get our dead iMac replaced.

 

Gosh, Trump even canceled the GOP’s national convention at Jacksonville FL this afternoon due to all of the COVID-19 infections in Florida.  That’s an about face for him.  He even said some school districts should wait to re-open, another reversal.  Maybe he’s FINALLY seeing how serious this is, four months in.

 

The last three or more days have been in a pattern where there are strong afternoon thunderstorms, some of which have heavy rain.  It rained most of the afternoon and evening today though not always heavy.  This makes it hard for Lynn and me to walk.  At least the storms have brought the temperatures down.  But we only got in one walk for a little over two miles all day long.

 

We met Ann and Wes Ford at Smiley’s Ice Cream tonight.  For a change, I did not have salted caramel chocolate chunk.  Their flavor of the month is peach so I gave it a try.  It was good, of course, but next time I’ll likely return to my usual.  While we were there we got a phone call from Kay saying that a water pipe on the third floor of their home had burst and left water all over.  The ceiling in one room had to be taken down.  There were four men working at her house when we called.  Yuck!

 

She said that as much as this upset her, she remembered one of my sayings:  if a problem can be fixed with money then it isn’t that big of a problem.  That helped her deal with this.  Indeed, even when my iPhone was dropped in the dishwater night before last I told Lynn that there were two kinds of problems:  ones that can be fixed and ones which can’t.  Both my phone and her ceiling are problems that can be fixed.  There are so many things in life that can’t be reversed or fixed.  If anything, we are lucky that our problems fall into the fixable category right now.

 

Certainly losing someone to COVID-19 is an example of a problem that can’t be fixed.  So, so many Americans have had to deal with this.  Look at these numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               15,650,440              636,384

US                       4,169,991              147,333

Virginia                  81,237                  2,054

Augusta County          233                         2

 

The US lost over 1,250 to coronavirus in one day.  Virginia had almost 1,000 new cases.

 

July 24, 2020

Today was just like 90% of the previous summer days:  hot, rain chances throughout the afternoon, and boring.  We did manage to get in a three mile walk in the morning before the temperatures got much above 80o.  Lynn went in to see her mom, as usual, and I cleaned up some blocks, rocks, and leftover wood from our Pergola project.

 

More bad news from CNN news:

The US on Thursday surpassed 4 million officially recorded Covid-19 cases — and a quarter of that count came in just the last 15 days.  The country’s rising daily rate of confirmed coronavirus cases, along with a near-record number of hospitalizations, signals the US is far from containing a virus that is straining hospitals and labs, health experts say.  “We’ve rolled back essentially two months’ worth of progress with what we’re seeing in number of cases … in the United States,” Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health, told CNN on Thursday.  About 59,600 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in the US on Wednesday — roughly 300 short of the country’s peak recorded in mid-April, according to the Covid Tracking Project.  The reported count is picking up speed: The national seven-day average of new daily cases was 67,429 on Wednesday, a record.  The spread has promised a bleak outlook for the months ahead, according to both health officials and President Trump.   What comes next is unclear: With now at least 41 states requiring face coverings, some have said strict measures like limiting gatherings and enforcing social distancing and masks can be as impactful as another lockdown. But others aren’t as hopeful.   “Masks will help, but I think we need a lot more than masks to contain this epidemic that’s running through our country like a freight train,” said William Haseltine, the chair and president of global health think tank ACCESS Health International.  “Until we see major changes of behavior and until we see the public health services here stepping forward with many more resources, we aren’t sure of containing this.”  Many are calling for a reset: shut everything down again and start over. More than 150 prominent US medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and others have signed a letter to political leaders urging them do just that.  “The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible,” they wrote in the document, which was sent to the Trump administration, leading members of Congress and state governors. “Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but nonessential activities.”

 

Yet there is still a call to get kids back in school.  Again from CNN news:

Still, the CDC spoke out strongly about the need to reopen schools, albeit in communities without substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus.  “It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement announcing the updates.  In new guidelines issued Thursday, the CDC said children suffer from not being in school, and they don’t suffer much from the virus and are less likely to spread it than adults.  “(The) United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths,” as of July 17, the statement said.

 

Personally, I think the CDC said this just because Trump insisted that they revise their guidelines.

 

More news:  There are over 1,000 deaths three days in a row, says the CDC.  There were record fatalities in seven states.  Dr. Fauci said that states with high infections should return to shelter-in-place.  He said he wouldn’t eat at a restaurant or ride an airplane.

 

In the afternoon we drove to Overlook Market to get some more tomatoes then stopped by Smiley’s to pick up Lynn’s birthday ice cream cake.  Of course, it was Death by Chocolate.

 

After a fine dinner of squash casserole and BLT sandwiches, we decided to walk again.  The weather forecast in Mount Sidney was fine so we decided to go to Gypsy Hill Park to walk.  Though the two aren’t far away, the weather was different in Staunton.  We managed to make only one lap as it started raining.  I got pretty soaked but, thankfully, we had an umbrella for Lynn.  We stopped in Verona on the way back and walked again at the Augusta County park there.  For the day we got about 5.7 miles in.

 

A survey on ABC news said only 44% of parents want their children to return to school.  Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               15,927,969              641,800

US                       4,246,447              148,429

Virginia                  82,364                  2,067

Augusta County          236                         3

In addition to over 1,000 deaths in the past 24 hours in the US, Virginia has more than 1,000 new cases and 13 additional deaths.  Augusta County recorded its 3rd death.

 

July 25, 2020

Today is Lynn’s 68th birthday.  I should be the one celebrating because being married to her has been the highlight of my life.  Everything I value at this point in my life has come because of her.  I spent time this morning looking at my photos as I waited for Ann and family to come over to see Betsy’s dancing in the Valley Dance Theatre production which was live streamed.  As I looked at photo after photo, it was apparent to me that 99% of those pictures were taken with her either in the pictures or with me when I took them.  Where would I be now if it were not for her?  I don’t want to even think about it.  Rather, I’ll just enjoy the fact that 68 years ago her parents gave birth to a baby girl who was going to spend most of her life with me.  Again, I’m the one celebrating.

 

For her birthday she got the new iPhone SE.  Also, I got her something she had asked for–an online subscription to the New York Times.  Many Facebook posts are from the NY Times but you need a subscription to read the entire post.  Now she can.

 

Kay called her this morning.  She was in surprising good spirits with a home torn up due to the water damage from the burst pipe.  Thomas and Georgia had just competed in a swim meet.  Jim called this evening.  He wasn’t in as good of spirits as Coen had awoken at 3:00 AM this morning and had no interest in going back to sleep.  By this evening both of them were exhausted and not in the best of moods.  Ann and her family came over this morning because Betsy’s dance recital was streamed and they thought our internet would work better.  Frankly, it didn’t work very well; we were able to view only two of Betsy’s four dances.

 

We walked our three mile walk this morning while the temperature was still in the 70’s.  It was a beautiful morning with nothing but blue skies.  By the time we finished it had gotten rather warm.

 

Lynn had a pickup at Walmart this morning, mostly of ice cream novelties she bought for her mother’s party which will be on Thursday.  She was able to take them directly from Walmart to her mother’s freezer so now they’re all ready for the party.  And she was able to help her mother with lunch, as usual.  She reported to me that Mrs. Hanger was doing OK today.  Only five more days until she turns 101!

 

Today was hot but not too hot for me to mow.  I am glad to have gotten it done; otherwise, I would have felt lazy again.  The temperature was 86 when Lynn and I got out of the car this afternoon at Gypsy Hill Park and 86 when we got back in.  Between, we walked two laps, around 2.5 miles, and netted right at six miles for the day.  Gypsy Hill has some shade, perhaps about 50% at this time of the day.

 

While we were in Staunton, we ordered our dinner from Chicano Boy.  This is what Lynn requested for her birthday dinner.  It was great, as always.  We each got the pork salad, of which we ate half and saved the rest for tomorrow.  We split an ear of corn and one of the two “supreme” potatoes we bought.  We’ll be fixed up for dinner tomorrow night, too.

 

After dinner, Ann’s family came over to help celebrate her birthday and have a piece of her ice cream cake from Smiley’s.  The cake is huge!

 

Lynn has so many friends, both in person and on Facebook.  She got well over 100 birthday wishes today on Facebook.  They came from former colleagues, high school classmates, neighbors, former students, some family members, and many others.  She is a special lady!

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,163,755              647,059

US                       4,308,876              149,320

Virginia                  83,609                  2,075

Augusta County          238                         3

 

Florida passed New York for the number of infections.  California has more than either.  Note that Virginia’s total is 1,250 more than the previous day.  Not good!

 

July 26, 2020

The news today is that we’ve now had five straight days of 1,000 or more deaths due to COVID-19.  Some cities have a real shortage of medical personnel.

 

Today was another slow day.  The weather was typical:  mild early on, then hot, then rain, then hot again.  We got in three miles before it got to the mid and high 80’s.  After that, our accomplishments for the day were limited.  Lynn did help her mother with lunch, shopped at Aldi’s, made blueberry jam, and used her Cricut machine to label two stainless steel hydration bottles she had purchased for a friend and her sister.  I did my monthly weed-whacking and moved some dirt to fill up a hole in the back yard.  Also I viewed our church’s online service for today.  That’s about it for the day.

 

This will be the shortest post since I’ve started writing back in April.  But, frankly, there’s nothing new to write about.  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,395,400              651,554

US                       4,366,042              149,773

Virginia                  84,567                  2,078

Augusta County          239                         3

We went to bed early to watch a movie.  We watched 5 Flights Up.  I’ve mentioned before that the Netflix movies we’ve watched have not been worth watching.   This one was an exception–it was very good.

 

July 27, 2020

Today is Kay’s 40th birthday.  It’s hard to believe it has been forty years!  She is having to deal with a house torn up by a water break and childcare while she and Andy continue to work.  As would be expected, she’s got it all in hand.  What a capable young lady!  Notice I said that 40 is young.

 

On the news this morning is that a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine testing is starting today on 30,000 people.  Experts are still saying it will be late this year or early 2021 before the masses could get this vaccine from Moderna.  But the news also says that once again there are many places where the virus is uncontrolled.

 

Unlike the previous several days, today we both had several things scheduled.  In fact, our day was so busy that we didn’t even get in a morning walk.  Mine began at Central UMC where it was my turn to make the weekly bank deposit.  After I had finished, I went to the sanctuary and recorded the three songs I had selected for this coming Sunday’s morning worship.  I wasn’t particularly pleased with the sound quality of the recordings but I eventually decided that this was due to my lack of playing skill.  I just do not play anything smoothly–I tend to bang somewhat.  I guess I developed this habit as a teenager in a rock band and have kept it all these years.  I wish I could play smoothly and elegantly.  Instead, my recordings come across as being rough and loud at times.  At least I was able to record each with a maximum of one false start and I didn’t noticeably play any wrong notes.  I was also able to take advantage of Central’s fast internet service so I got them uploaded to be shared with our music director who puts together all of the separate video recordings to make our Sunday morning worship service.

 

Another thing I got done this morning was to make an appointment at Carillion in Fort Defiance for this afternoon.  I have been keeping my eye on the tick bite I got almost two weeks ago.  It is not getting any better.  It doesn’t appear to be any worse and though I don’t have any symptoms of Lyme disease yet I don’t want to wait on them to appear.  I tried to make an appointment with my family physician, Dr. LaGrua, but he is on vacation so instead I saw a new doctor there, Dr. Cavender.  He said he didn’t think I was showing the symptoms of Lyme disease but that the bite was somewhat infected.  So he prescribed for me a med, doxycycline, for the infection but told me that this was the same drug he’d be prescribing for me if I were showing Lyme disease issues. So, as he put it, I’d be getting a two-for-one.  If indeed I am getting Lyme disease this drug will be the antidote.  Otherwise, it will be the treatment for the bug bite.  He was a young doctor, probably not even 30 yet, but I liked him and trusted his advice.  I only take it for five days.

 

Lynn and I ate well again tonight.  She cooked a prime rib roast and I cooked baked potatoes.  She also made a squash dish.  For dessert, we made a quick run to Smiley’s.  Yum!

 

Today is the first day in a while that I didn’t get my 10,000 steps in.  We did go to Gypsy Hill Park tonight and walked two laps, approximately 2.4 miles, but that’s about all I got in.  It was hot again tonight, about 85o when we started walking.

 

The news tonight is the same as always.  Here are the statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,635,306              656,080

US                       4,433,372              150,444

Virginia                  86,072                  2,082

Augusta County          243                         3

Virginia’s number of infections soared almost 1,500 higher in the past 24 hours.  That’s not good.  The WHO says coronavirus cases have roughly doubled worldwide in the last six weeks.  Over 25% of the world’s infections are in the US.

 

July 28, 2020

We had a significant, but not good, event at our house today.  Lynn fell coming out of the bathroom and got hurt.  She has a broken foot, very bruised thigh, and sore arm.  She put up with the pain during the morning but after lunch went to Augusta Health Urgent Care in Weyers Cave where they x-rayed her foot.  This is Lynn’s first broken bone ever!  She will see an orthopedic doctor next week.

 

They put her foot in a boot.  She can hobble around since they did not give her crutches but she is obviously in pain.  Poor Lynn!  She has to prop her foot up when she sits.  Her arm and thigh also hurt but not as much as the foot.  She broke the 5th metatarsal.  The doctor who read her x-ray said she would not need surgery, which is good news, but it will take at least six weeks for it to heal.  She won’t see the orthopedic doctor until the swelling has gone down.

 

Before she fell, we had walked three miles and had a busy day planned.  I had two church meetings via Zoom, a Finance Committee meeting and a Church Council meeting.  Plus, I had some questions about the financial report that our new administrative assistant had produced so I was on the phone with her for a long time in the morning, including when Lynn fell.  I didn’t hear her fall and she couldn’t understand why not.

 

In the meantime, she had invited a friend of hers, Carol Mitchell, and her husband Shawn to join us in our backyard with a take-out dinner.  Lynn and Carol were born on exactly the same day in the same hospital so they have been friends for 68 years.  To help celebrate, she had ordered an ice cream cake from (can you guess? ) Smiley’s.  It was ready this afternoon so she drove to pick it up but by then the pain from her fall was so great that she asked them to bring it out to her car, which they did.  When she got back home, I was between church meetings so we agreed it would be best for her to go to the Augusta Health Urgent Care office in Weyers Cave and have it x-rayed.  Before I was through with the second meeting she knew the story.

 

I drove to the Urgent Care office to pick her up since she would have had a hard time driving with a boot on.  Later Ann took me back to pick up car which we had left there.

 

Our way of life has suddenly been changed.  We’ve spent two hours each day walking for months.  That won’t be the case for at least six more weeks now.  I’m not sure if I’ll walk by myself or not.  My body will need the exercise but it won’t be enjoyable without her.

 

I made a trip to Valley Pike to order then pick up our take-out dinner.  We love the hamburgers at the Old Schoolhouse food truck there.  I made it back just in time to get everything set up for dinner outside under the Pergola before the Mitchells arrived.

 

Lynn had made some wine coolers which we enjoyed at first.  Then we discovered an embarrassing fact–the Mitchell’s had not picked up any food for dinner.  Perhaps they were expecting us to provide it whereas we thought the deal was for both couples to bring their own food.  At any rate, Lynn and I quickly decided not to eat our hamburgers.  Instead, the four of us had birthday cake for dinner!  It was Death by Chocolate, of course.

 

On television tonight is an ABC show we watched about COVID-19.  It described how we got to where we are now in the US.  We heard Trump say on January 22 that “we have the situation completely under control.  There is just one person infected and we have it under control.”  The show described how previous Presidents, beginning with George Bush in 2005, laid out a framework for how to deal with pandemics.  The Obama administration had to deal with the Ebola outbreak, for example.  He set up a pandemic prevention office to deal with any future outbreak.  The Trump administration did away with this office in 2018.  There was even a plan left from the Obama administration on how to deal with a pandemic such as a coronavirus outbreak but this plan was not followed by Trump.  In other words, the blame for this outbreak largely rests on Donald Trump’s shoulders.

 

Trump did ban travel to/from China on February 1.  But it was too late.  The virus had already jumped continents.  Plus, the initial test samples from the CDC were defective.  The longer it took to test, the more it spread.  By Valentine’s Day there was an outbreak in the state of Washington.  Trump kept downplaying the severity of the virus.  Within a few weeks, it would be impossible to control the outbreak, especially given the shortages of testing, personal protective equipment, and ventilators.

 

The show suggested five factors were important:

  1. A collection of former officials sounded an alarm that were not heard. In January and February, as the coronavirus grew from outbreak to epidemic to pandemic, a group of former public health and national security officials, some of whom had helped craft a set of so-called “pandemic playbooks” to help guide a unified federal response, privately encouraged officials across the Trump administration to heed warnings of an impending disaster. “The president began to say that nobody could imagine that something like this could actually occur,” Dr. Dan Hanfling, a biosecurity and disaster response expert in Virginia, told ABC News. “The truth is that there was a group of us that had been trying to raise the alarm.”
  2. On the eve of crisis, the pandemic preparedness office was scrapped.  The White House National Security Council once featured a pandemic preparedness desk that monitored for biological threats to the security of the United States.  Its dissolution – less than a year before the novel coronavirus first emerged in China – has become fodder for the president’s critics.
  3. After early action, opportunities were squandered. Experts say that a delayed response from the federal government and a lack of cooperation from foreign counterparts hampered the nation’s ability to prepare for the pandemic.
  4. Inadequate testing blinded leaders.  Until April, the United States lagged far behind numerous other countries on testing even as community spread was actively occurring across the country and around the world. Testing supplies were not part of the government stockpile.  To this day, there is still an undersupply of testing and personal protective equipment.
  5. Mixed messages undermined a public’s confidence in the response. Public health leaders say Trump’s rhetoric set back the efforts to supply a unified message to the public.  As one official put it, “What are people supposed to think when the federal government has a plan for reopening and the president is telling people to ignore his experts’ own plan for reopening?  That confuses everyone. It leads to politics, division, divisiveness. It leads to some of these protests you were seeing.”  Trump constantly ignored the advice of his own advisors about re-opening the country.  He has almost never wears a mask in public.  He is a complete dud as a President.

This is what we have on July 28:

Infected                   Died

World               16,883,769              662,480

US                       4,498,323              152,319

Virginia                  86,994                  2,095

Augusta County          244                         3

Nearly 1,000 more Virginians infected overnight.  Thirteen more dead.  And to date the federal government has taken no responsibility for the spread.

 

July 29, 2020

This is the first day of Lynn’s immobility.  She awoke hurting in the middle of the night but after some acetaminophen she got back to sleep.  She has such a busy lifestyle, always on the go, that I worry about how she’ll be sedentary for the next six weeks.

 

Lots of people have already checked on her.  She’s still planning on being involved with her mother’s 101st birthday party tomorrow.  But walking is a real issue.  Fortunately, we have little planned for the next two days.  We’re certainly not going to be walking.

 

Trump retweeted his support of hydroxychloroquine, despite both the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration already dismissing the antimalarial drug’s efficacy in treating COVID-19.  ABC News reported that he ongoing war of words over the drug led the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to reiterate that the drug “is not effective” in treating the virus, while FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn recently lamented that it had become “politicized” in the midst of a pandemic.

 

An internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News reports that new cases are going down but deaths are surging.  In the seven days ending Monday, new cases nationwide have decreased 0.6% from the previous week but that time period also saw a 30.1% increase in deaths from the disease and deaths have been increasing steadily in recent days.

 

Lynn can hobble from one place to another but her foot is still swollen and hurting.  She has an appointment next Wednesday to see the orthopedic doctor.  With no crutches nor cane, her only option is to try to walk mostly on her heel but with the boot on it isn’t easy.

 

Today was errand day for me, especially since Lynn was so immobile.  I went to Harrisonburg to make a bank withdrawal then she and I together went to Kroger to pick up an order she had made online.  I also made a run to the dump with our trash and the Gutshall’s.  That’s the excitement for the day.   This evening I took Lynn in to see her mother and drop off some things for tomorrow’s big party.  She said her mom is really looking forward to her 101st birthday!

 

We found out this afternoon that a neighbor of ours, John Michael, passed away this morning.  It was not unexpected; he had struggled for the past several months.

 

In today’s news, hard-hit Texas reported a record 313 fatalities on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 6,190. The state had never reported more than 200 in a single day.  In Florida, 217 new fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours — a second day in a row of record-setting deaths, the state’s health department said Wednesday.  On Tuesday, the department said a record 191 new fatalities had been reported in the previous 24 hours.  And coronavirus deaths are on the rise in the state of Washington for the first time since March.  So who thinks we’re getting a hold on this virus?  Only our President.

 

I went nearly all day with no walking.  I was hesitant to leave Lynn for long periods of time.  Plus, I had less motivation to walk without my partner.  But then at 8:00 I decided to do a quick two mile walk.  I walked much faster than we normally do; I was back home in 31 minutes.  One worry I have is that I’ll start gaining weight because I have been eating a lot lately though I’ve also been walking for two hours every day.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               17,148,161              668,806

US                       4,555,924              153,488

Virginia                  87,993                  2,125

Augusta County          245                         4

 

Another thousand more Virginia infections and one more Augusta County death.

 

July 30, 2020

Today is Lynn’s mother’s birthday, her 101st.  I’ve never known anyone who has lived to 101 before, yet now I know one in our own family.  I’ve been around Mrs. Hanger much longer than I was ever around my own mother since my mom died when I had just turned 30.  She has always treated me well.  I hope she has many more birthdays!  Lately, she has had some bad days, though.

 

CNN reported today that experts say that the US is far from having COVID-19 under control.  Some states are seeing their highest death tolls. California on Wednesday reported 197 Covid-related deaths in a single day, according to state Department of Public Health. That total far outpaces the previous high of 159, recorded just last week.  The United States needs to restart its response with policy actions at the federal, state and local levels to get control of the pandemic, scholars at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security said in a report.

 

The news is so repetitive.  How many days have we heard that the US needs more mask wearing, more test availability, more PPP equipment, slower re-opening, more federal help in assisting with shortages, more social distancing, fewer events where many people are crowded into a venue such as a church, and quicker turnaround for testing?  Yet today’s news included a story about a US congressman from Texas who has now contacted coronavirus and blamed it on wearing a mask, something he had fought against for months.  How can people elect such an idiot?

 

Oh boy!  In a tweet this morning Trump says mail in voting causes fraud and wants to delay the election in November.  So it is too unsafe to vote in November but OK to send kids back to school in September?  Of course, he has no power to delay it since it is in the Constitution.  And, supposedly, even if it is delayed his term ends after four years and a Democrat from the Senate, perhaps Nancy Pelosi, will become President.  Trump said “with universal mail-in voting (not absentee voting which is good) the 2020 election will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent in history.   It will be an embarrassment to the USA.”  The fraudulent one and the embarrassment to the US is HIM.

 

The number of deaths rose in 32 states in the past day.  Including in the COVID-19 deaths is Herman Cain, a former Republican candidate for President, who attended Trump’s rally in Tulsa Oklahoma and did not wear a mask.

 

The birthday party today was well attended though it was in the small yard outside Mrs. Hanger’s apartment.  Bill and Sandy along with their daughter Jenny and her two boys, Tommy and Luke were there.  So were Kay Carter and her children David and Donna along with Donna’s husband David.  Jane Hanger was there with her daughter Sally, husband Ray, and children Bowman and Owen.  Lynn and I were there along with all three of our children, Ann, Kay, and Jim.  Ann’s husband Josh and children Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie came along with Kay’s children Thomas and Georgia.  Plus there were plenty of friends and employees from The Legacy.  In fact, the party ended a little too early when a representative from The Legacy required that Mrs. Hanger go back inside since, according to her, we were violating the CDC guidelines.  Everyone there wore a mask, I’d add.  Mrs. Hanger seemed very pleased though it really wore her out.  By the time Lynn and I left she was soundly asleep on her bed.

 

After the party our family came back here for a while.  The kids played well while we sat in the shade and chatted.  Kay had to go back early because she still had to get in a day’s work after getting home.  Jim stayed until after dinner which Ann picked up for us from Chicano Boy.

 

Jim brought me a present.  He had purchased and fixed a dump cart for my riding mower.  He has one that he uses a lot and I’m sure I’ll be putting mine to good use now.

 

We got news today that Lynn’s porch swings for the Pergola will arrive next week so Jim is going to come back to help install them.  I got the hardware today via Amazon which we’ll use to mount the swings to the Pergola.

 

Another vaccine, this one from Johnson and Johnson, is entering into human trials now after showing promise with monkeys.  It can’t come too soon.

 

Lynn’s foot has hurt her more than ever today.  Her toes are swollen and bruised.  Of course, she overdid it today before and during her mother’s party.

 

Here are the numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               17,433,217              675,172

US                       4,626,450              154,984

Virginia                  88,904                  2,141

Augusta County          246                         4

 

Another 1,500 new deaths in the US.  Almost 1,000 new cases and 16 more deaths in Virginia.  So sad.

 

Here’s some COVID-19 good news:  The U.S. saw the first week-over-week decrease in new COVID-19 cases since early June, The COVID Tracking Project reported Thursday.  The number of new cases fell by nearly 20,000, from 468,000 last week to 448,198, this week, the data project found.

 

But in other news from ABC, Ohio reported 1,733 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — its highest daily count ever, Gov. Mike DeWine said.  For the third day in a row, a new record-high number of deaths were reported in hard-hit Florida, according to the state’s Department of Health.  New Jersey saw 2,066 new coronavirus cases in the last week (ending July 27) — a 112% increase from the week prior.  Meanwhile in Georgia, the number of new COVID-19 deaths in the last week nearly doubled in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs area. The week ending July 20 saw 71 deaths while the week ending July 27 brought 139 deaths.

 

With all that was going on today plus rain this afternoon and evening, there was no walking for me today.  That’s OK; it was fantastic to see so many family members today before and after the birthday party.  I took 125 pictures which I’ve already posted online.

 

July 31, 2020

When I began writing this blog on April 20, the coronavirus had already been creating its havoc on our lifestyle for five weeks or so.  So I wrote then that I felt like a reporter assigned to writing about a baseball game but he started writing after the game had begun.  The problem is that I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  Yesterday I heard one of the medical experts use the same analogy to a baseball game when he spoke about where we were with COVID-19.  He said he thought we were in the 4th inning now.   Interesting.

 

The morning news reported that coronavirus fatalities are up by 15% though the number of infections may be leveling off in some of the hot spots.

 

My day began early with a urology doctor’s appointment.  Like my brother Butch, my worries about prostate issues have been put on the back burner while more pressing issues moved forward.  I haven’t had any change in symptoms so I wasn’t surprised when the doctor told me my results were OK and no need for further action.  I was a little concerned that the results this year weren’t posted to my MyChart records so I could see them but he had them and showed them to me.  My PSA basically hasn’t changed in the past three years.  He said I had less than a 10% chance of having prostate cancer.

 

Prostate cancer is known to run in the Hill family.  My dad had it but not until he was late in life, perhaps in his late 70’s. My uncle Hamp had it and despite having it treated it spread to his lungs, causing lung cancer which eventually took his life.  So I am always a little concerned about my trips to the urologist.

 

Meanwhile Butch’s Ann is having more and more issues in Columbus.  She was supposed to be released to a skilled nursing facility today but that’s not going to happen as she had several problems this morning.

 

One of Lynn’s friends, Cheryl Kent, brought her a scooter she can use with her broken leg.  I’m curious to see how often she uses it.  Lynn was in lots of pain last night so she re-wrapped her ankle and that seemed to help.

 

I’m trying to get everything ready to install Lynn’s Pergola swings when they come next week.  Jim told me I should get lock washers instead of flat washers so I ordered them for pickup from Lowe’s this morning.  Lynn went to see her mom today so I picked them up when I took her to Staunton.  Then I think we’ll be all set for mounting the swings when they come.  Jim is going to come back to help.  Actually, I’m the one who helps; he is the one with all the skills.

 

On my mind today is what great children Lynn and I have.  Ann is such a good mother.  She is very protective without being a helicopter parent.  She got Lynn a very thoughtful birthday present of a reusable bag for Lynn’s sourdough bread loaves plus a cutting board sized just right for the bread.  She manages to see to everything her four children need simultaneously.  Kay has maintained her sanity dealing with a house which has had major issues plus taking care of two very active children and working fulltime.  She makes time to come here to see her mom and grandmother and manages to transport Thomas and Georgia to swimming, tennis, soccer, and/or basketball.  Lately she has had to go to her office in downtown Washington late at night in order to get all of her work done.    Like Ann, she is very thoughtful.  For Lynn’s birthday she got her a reflecting vest for save walking.  It will be a few weeks before Lynn can use it again!  Jim is so skilled at both academic and household matters.  For Lynn’s birthday he brought great pictures of Faron and Coen which are now proudly displayed on our kitchen mantle.  The cart he brought me yesterday required him to make several modifications so it would work with my mower.  It works great.  He’s always willing to come here to help us.  He dearly loves his two boys and would do anything for them.

 

From ABC News tonight:  The CDC predicted today that the US will suffer more than 180,000 deaths due to COVID-19 by August 22.  More than 67,600 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Thursday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  The latest daily caseload is under the country’s record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.  In one Georgia camp, students were not asked to wear masks.  44% of the campers got coronavirus.  The Florida Department of Health recorded 257 deaths in the last 24 hours, marking a new, grim record for the state for the fourth day in a row.  On the good news side, New York saw its lowest number of hospitalizations, ICU patients and intubations since mid-March on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said.

 

Here are the statistics for today:

Infected                   Died

World               17,727,472              681,934

US                       4,700,326              156,701

Virginia                  89,888                  2,174

Augusta County          249                         4

 

Virginia again had nearly 1,000 new cases and a whopping 33 more deaths.  I wonder how many of those 33 got infected from an environment similar to a school?

 

Trump again today tweeted that the high case numbers in the U.S. were due to increased testing – an assertion that his own administration has repeatedly said is not true.  Dr. Fauci testified before Congress that “the increase in cases was due to a number of factors,” including states that reopened too quickly and people “congregating in crowds and not wearing masks,” he said.  Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s handling of three major challenges facing the country — the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide unrest over racial inequality and relations with Russia — in a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.

 

Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie are supposed to resume school on August 18, just 19 days from now.  They are scheduled to go two days per week and have the rest of their schooling online.  Class sizes will be cut in half due to the A/B schedule.  During the in-person school time masks are not going to be required inside the classroom as long as students sit six feet apart.  I do not like this.  Thomas and Georgia don’t return to school until September 8.

June 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

June 1, 2020

Another gorgeous day with blue skies a-plenty and temperatures in the high 60”s and low 70’s. Today would have been a great day to do a bunch of outside work.  It turns out that I had little to do although I did assist our friend Ronnie Brown in splitting the last of the big pieces from our maple tree and loading onto his truck.  He has a splitter which makes the work go fast.  I guess this was a good deal for the Browns and us; they got three truckloads of good maple firewood and we got rid of all the remnants of having two trees cut down.

 

It was certainly a good day for walking and we took advantage of it with our normal morning 2.6 mile hike and afternoon 3.7 mile Leaport loop walk.  After dinner we walked a couple of loops around the middle school track giving us a total for the day of eight miles.

 

Lynn amazed me twice today.  The first time was when she interpreted for an IEP meeting over the phone.  I sat beside her killing time on my iPad while she simultaneously talked on the phone with a hispanic mother from Cub Run Elementary School and Zoomed with the child’s teachers on the laptop.  The amazing part was how well she did her job.  The SPED teacher asked her to simply read parts of the IEP to the mom and she did so unhesitatingly.  Her knowledge of Spanish vocabulary and ability to speak it to a native speaker were excellent.  Both parties greatly appreciated her work and so did I.

 

The second time she amazed me was on our loop walk.  We walked by a house with a man cutting his grass and he cut the mower off to chat with us.  I don’t think I had ever seen the man before.  But she immediately recognized him and, of course, knew his family, his in-laws, that he and his wife had lost a daughter two years ago during childbirth, and tons more.  Her people knowledge and people skills are unbelievable.  She is a walking encyclopedia of family knowledge and can easily communicate with anyone.

 

Tonight there are large military vehicles patrolling the White House in case of riots this evening.  Trump is calling on governors to be tough and use the National Guard.  He insisted that governors “dominate” the protesters.  Trump’s rhetoric is fueling the protests.  We’ll see what happens…

 

Tonight the George Floyd family called for peace and justice.  Many of the protesters are demanding that the three other police officers who were complicit while their colleague choked Floyd to death should be charged in his death.  Yet in many cities there are violent riots with cars and buildings burned.  The news is full of videos of looters, police firing tear gas, and arrests being made, some forcibly.  It is true that there are many, many peaceful protests including some here in Staunton and Harrisonburg, but the news picks up on the violence, of course.

 

Here in rural Augusta County we are fortunately hidden from the quick spread of COVID-19 and the riots of big cities.  We are lucky to have such shelter.  Watching the news makes me appreciate that.

 

Lynn has her eyes on a structure for our backyard called a porch-swing fire pit.  It is also known as a pergola.  The one she particularly likes is in the shape of a hexagon, measures 16 feet diagonally, with five porch swings suspended from beams tied to posts set in the ground.  She has downloaded the plans and forwarded them to Jim.  I have some concerns about where it would go and how it would be used.  We’ll see how this plays out…

 

We made plans today to go away next week for two nights.  This will be the first time since the pandemic started that we’ve been away.  I wrote before that we were considering Abingdon as a location and we finalized that today.  We’ve checked the extended weather forecast for Abingdon and made some rearrangements to our schedule next Tuesday through Thursday.  We’ve come up with three places we want to walk:  the New River Trail, a loop around Hungry Mother State Park, and a hike near Abingdon to a place called The Channels.  Plus we can walk on the Virginia Creeper Trail if there’s time.  We called our usual motel, Comfort Suites, and talked to our friendly manager Jamie Arnold who set our concerns at ease about staying there.  We’ll leave next Tuesday morning and stop for dinner at the Draper Mercantile where we’ll walk on the New River Trail, weather permitting.

 

As always, here are the stats for today:

Infected                   Died

World                 6,361,360              377,148

US                       1,858,931              106,921

Virginia                  45,398                  1,392

Augusta County          112                         1

 

June 2, 2020

Walking is very different when the temperature is in the 60’s compared to when it is in the 80’s.  We found that out first hand today.  Our morning walk was very pleasant but by late afternoon when we left to take our second walk of the day it was hot.  We elected to walk at the Grottoes town park since there is shade on 1/3 of the 1.4 mile perimeter loop.  In the shade, with a gentle breeze, it was bearable but in the open it was tough.  We made two laps around the park but were bushed by the time the second lap ended.  Tomorrow’s forecast is for even hotter temperatures and higher humidity.  Yuck.  We did manage to walk an extra mile after dinner when it was cooler and ended the day with seven miles walked.

 

Knowing hotter temperatures were on the way, I got my outside work done this morning.  I cut our grass, cleaned up around the stumps where the two trees had been cut, and made my weekly trip to the dump.  Lynn went with me and we stopped at Ann’s house to get their trash and chat with her and the kids.

 

I am no longer a fan of having cute little bunny rabbits running around in the yard.  Last week I planted 20 tomato plants.  Today I have 12 left.  The others were eaten completely down to the ground.  I’ve got three traps out next to the garden but so far I haven’t caught any.  I’ve used romaine lettuce and apples for bait. I think there are at least two in the neighborhood.

 

The news tonight once again features stories about the protests all over the country.  There are thousands of protesters, coast to coast, who, during the day, are peaceful.  The nighttime protests have turned violent, though.  Many cities have imposed curfews.

 

Our worthless President had his goonies throw tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church so he could have a photo-op holding a Bible in front of it.  The Bishop of the Episcopal Church was appalled.  He was later condemned by both Democrats and Republicans.  Joe Biden said he wished Trump would open the Bible sometime.

 

It is so unusual to have the news featuring something other than COVID-19.  Again, our country is in a mess now.  Many protesters do not wear masks and almost none remain socially distant from each other.  There could be a huge outbreak of coronavirus coming up soon.

 

The daily numbers are as follows:

 

Infected                   Died

World                 6,470,351              381,624

US                       1,879,608              108,026

Virginia                  46,239                  1,407

Augusta County          115                         2

 

There’s no way of knowing any details on the second death in Augusta County.  Just a glance at these numbers compared to previous ones and you can see we by no means have this pandemic under control.  To prove this, I’m reposting the numbers from when I started this on April 20, only six weeks ago:

                              Infected                    Died

World                 2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                    8,990                     300

Augusta County            22                         0

 

So in six weeks the number of cases and deaths in the US have more than doubled; the number of cases and deaths in Virginia have increased nearly five fold.

 

We celebrated the Gutshall kids’ successful school year this evening by bringing them three quarts of Smiley’s ice cream.  This household now has a first grader, sixth grader, eighth grader, and tenth grader.  All four did so well in school and we’re so, so proud of them as we are our other grandchildren.  Indeed, grandchildren are the highlight of our lives now.

 

June 3, 2020

With the projected high temperature today in the low to mid 90’s, we got up early, ate breakfast, and got walking.  By 10:00 we had taken two walks for 5.5 miles.  It was nice walking early in the morning.  We even walked our Leaport loop backwards which means we had to climb the Mount Pisgah hill which is a formidable challenge for walkers.

 

We also were able to knock off a few chores early.  I finished my lawn mowing by doing the push mowing part.

 

The main topic of conversation now is whether to take the July 16-19 family vacation to Eden Resort in Lancaster PA.  We’ve made a deposit to hold our large suite there and must notify them at least a month beforehand if we cancel else we lose the deposit.  We called the resort while we were walking to find out what COVID-19 safety features they were putting into place.  They are basically doing the same as the Comfort Suites regarding maid service, keeping the rooms a day or more before renting, etc.  We were particularly interested in how they would handle their two large pools, one inside and one outside.  We were told that the inside pool use was determined by a lottery.  Likewise, the outside use was limited to a fixed number of families and done by reservation.

 

We did the smart thing for dinner given the temperature today–went to Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird for a large Soprano pizza.  That will serve us deliciously for two days.  On the way to Penn Laird we stopped at the post office where Lynn mailed some drawing pads to Thomas and Georgia and had our mail held next week while we’re in Abingdon.

 

We’ve been eating lots of good salad lately, too.  Lynn bought salad bags from Aldi’s and then adds to them tomato, homemade croutons, and salad dressing.  Good eating!

 

After dinner tonight, despite the heat, we went to Stewart Middle School and walked another mile.  Her Fitbit said that our total for the day was 7.5 miles.  For a scorching day, that’s not bad.

 

Here’s how lucky I am to have Lynn.  For breakfast, I eat homemade toast from bread she has made.  I put spread butter on the toast that she has blended using real butter and canola oil.  Then I top it with strawberry preserves she has made.  My only contribution is coffee.  She has really cooked a lot since we’ve been sheltered-in-place.

 

Our family discussion about the summer vacation didn’t reach a consensus, but it does sound like we won’t be going to Eden.  Kay rightfully thinks the pools won’t be very safe and worries what else we’ll do since normally the pool is the big attraction.  She said perhaps if we could all rent a house with a private pool somewhere that would be better.  I found one available in Greensboro NC which I forwarded to them to consider.  We’ll have to make a decision some time soon.

 

The fact is that COVID-19 is still a major problem as shown by tonight’s numbers:

 

Infected                   Died

World                 6,567,058              387,899

US                       1,901,783              109,142

Virginia                  46,905                  1,428

Augusta County          115                         2

 

Kay’s family and Ann’s family were able to join us tonight for the family Zoom.  Jim was busy working in his yard trying to prepare it for an above-ground pool for his kids.  I know he worked extremely hard today on it.

 

June 4, 2020

Today is grocery pickup day so we began the day with pickups at both Kroger and Walmart.  We were back at home before 9:00 to drop the groceries off.  We took a shortened two mile walk before heading to Roanoke.  Today is Faron’s 5th birthday so we drove there to deliver the card we made for him and his present, a Lego StarWars kit called The Rise of Skywalker Millennium Falcon.

 

The trip to Roanoke didn’t go as planned. About 25 miles north of Roanoke I ran over some debris in the road.  Shortly thereafter my low tire pressure indicator light came on so I took the next exit for Buchanan VA.  Lynn quickly grabbed her phone and found that there was a tire place six miles away on US 11.  I pulled over and verified that the passenger rear tire was hissing as it lost air.  We quickly headed for Hugh’s transport.

 

We didn’t make it.  Two miles from the business I could tell that the tire was getting down to the rim so I had to pull off the side of the road.  Lynn called them and they very politely said they’d come and get us.  Sure enough, in about ten minutes the flat bed wrecker showed up.  He told us we could just stay in the car.   This was quite an experience.  We were pulled up on the flat bed and rode there to the business.

 

It turned out fine.  They were able to patch the hole in the tire and we were out of there in about 40 minutes, $83 poorer.  All in all we cannot complain.  It could have been much, much worse.

 

All that made us late getting to Jim’s house, of course, but we still had a good time watching Faron and Coen play outside.  When we got there Jim was on a tractor in his back yard digging out a level place for them to put an above ground swimming pool.  He has so many skills!  He was more than a little frustrated when we got there because he was having a time getting it all leveled.  We checked back with him tonight and found that he had gotten the job done.

 

I took 88 pictures of the boys and posted them on my website when we got back here.  Faron and Coen are lots of fun; I wish we could see them more and be able to hug them.

 

The drive back home on I-81 was awful.  There was at least one wreck and we got off on US 11 for part of the way.  Traffic was terrible; you’d never know that people are supposed to be sheltering-in-place.

 

After dinner and the threat of a thunderstorm we were able to get in a second walk of the day.  Our total for the day was the lowest we’ve had in ages, only five miles, but that’s OK.  The morning walk was a scorcher but the evening walk was nice.

 

As a family we’ve been debating the possibility of a summer vacation, as I wrote yesterday.  Today we verified for sure that neither Kay’s family nor Jim’s family wants to go to Eden Resort.  Actually, Morgan said she wouldn’t let her boys go anywhere this summer.

 

That being the case, we’ve been looking for other possibilities.  I’ve found one place south of Charlottesville that has a private pool, plenty of bedrooms, and would cost about the same as Eden.  It’s called Avon Hill Lodge.  I’ve corresponded with the owner a couple of times this evening.  They are holding the place for us on July 13 – 16 (Monday – Thursday).  Lynn and I are going to check the place out in about ten days.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 6,692,686              392,286

US                       1,924,051              110,173

Virginia                  47,856                  1,445

Augusta County          122                         2

 

Who thinks we have this under control?

 

June 5, 2020

Lynn and her friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright started the day at a moving sale not too far from here on Bald Rock Road.  After the sale, they came back here to chat and eat scones which Lynn had prepared.  My job was to get the furniture set up for them (socially distant, of course) prior to them getting back here.

 

Today wasn’t much of a walking day.  We got a little later start since Lynn had her friends over in the morning.  As we walked the 3.7 Leaport loop we were reminded of how much better shade feels than hot sun.  Of the 3.7 miles, the first half-mile and the last mile and a half are nearly all in the sun.  The middle 1.7 miles are mostly shady.

 

We had some time on our hands this afternoon so we decided to do a little shopping.  First we went to Dollar General in Weyers Cave.  This may have been a mistake.  I stayed in the car while Lynn went in.  Sixteen people came out while I waited on her.  Nine were without masks.  Four of the seven who did wear masks were in the same family, a mother and three children.  It is not optional in Virginia to do that!  Nearly all were male.  How selfish.  How stupid.  How thoughtless.  How dangerous.  They are idiots.  It is no wonder that this virus has spread rampantly throughout our nation.

 

Lynn tried to get some disinfectant spray there but it was all gone.  The lady at the counter told her they typically got one case per week and sold quickly.  Actually this week they were doing inventory so they received none.  She also got some ant traps because we saw a few ants in our kitchen and I want to nip this in the bud.   She also bought hand soap refills.

 

Then we went to JMD Farm Market where we bought replacement tomato plants for the ones the rabbits have eaten.  We returned home and I just got them in the ground before a thunderstorm hit.  At least they got watered very well.  I’m going to put up a pseudo fence made of fishing line as soon as we can find the fishing line here at home!  I at least got the poles hammered in before the storm.

 

The storm then cleared temporarily and we took advantage of the cooler temperatures and got in another hike.  This time we walked our two miler:  one mile out and one mile back.  Usually when we walk on this route there are few, if any cars.  We wave to all those who pass though we rarely know who we’re waving to.

 

So much of the news today is about racial injustice.  At least those who protest now are doing so with less violence.  But rather than seize the opportunity to pull Americans together, Trump held a news conference in which he talked mostly about the better-than-expected unemployment figures released today.  In a real low point, speaking about murdered black George Floyd who was buried yesterday, he said that “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ It’s a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day.”

 

Here’s what ABC news had to say:

As the country continues to reel from the death of George Floyd with thousands of people taking to the streets daily to protest his death and racial inequalities in America, Trump declared the virus largely dealt with, and called it “a great day for equality.”   Seizing on jobless figures released Friday that were better than forecast — but just slightly better than the previous month’s — Trump insisted a strong economy was the answer to fixing the country’s inequities…  Presented, yet again, with an opportunity to unify the nation and address protesters demanding systemic change, Trump, once again, made no effort to do so.

By the way, at his press conference there was no social distancing between Trump and his entourage.  None wore masks.  And he took zero questions from reporters.

 

Since when did 13.3% unemployment, cities full of protesters over racial injustice,  and well over 100,000 deaths in the US due to COVID-19 make the case that today is a “great, great day?”

 

My goodness we have eaten well!  I know I’ve written that before.  Tonight we had fried chicken breasts that Lynn had marinated in buttermilk.  She made homemade macaroni and cheese and put together another great salad.  Then she finished off by making a non-alcoholic slushy substituting grape juice for white wine in her regular recipe. Yum!  In addition to all of the other skills that Lynn has that I always brag about, she’s a fantastic cook.

 

The statistics for today:

Infected                   Died

World                 6,805,762              396,796

US                       1,950,755              111,263

Virginia                  48,532                  1,453

Augusta County          124                         2

These stats show some progress in Virginia.  We’re still waiting to see what hot spots result due to all of the protesting and rioting.  The news tonight said that eighteen states were seeing an increase in the number of cases.  Virginia was not one of those.  The CDC predicts that there will be up to 143,000 deaths in America by the end of the month.  Brazil had over 1,500 deaths in the past 24 hours.

 

What would I do with my time if I didn’t walk and write?  I’d be playing solitaire, probably.  When we walk on a rainy day like today, we look at the hourly forecast on weather.com, the forecast on the app Dark Sky, and even at the radar.  It worked today; we walked three times in all including a jaunt at the middle school after dinner, and totaled 7.7 miles.  We did not get rained on at all.  Friends of ours in Weyers Cave posted that they got over three inches of rain today.

 

June 6, 2020

This weekend’s forecast is much better.  There’s no rain expected until Thursday.  The highs Sunday and Monday are going to be in the low 80’s.  When we go to Abingdon on Tuesday, there may be afternoon storms but we should still be able to do some walking.

 

Lynn and Cheryl Wright had made arrangements to go to yard sales this morning in Dayton.  To be safe, they drove separately.  While she was gone, I got all of my tomato stakes and pseudo-fence poles hammered into the ground.  Then I went to Fort Defiance High School and walked three miles on the track.

 

Lynn does not like to walk the track.  She says it is boring.  I don’t mind because my mind is always miles away from there when I’m walking.

 

No matter when or where we walk, we see farmers working in their fields nowadays.  I have a renewed respect for their work having seen it first hand repeatedly as we’ve done our hikes.  Living here in the Shenandoah Valley you can’t get away from farms.  This is hay cutting and baling season.  Farmers have to first put on their mowing attachment to their tractors then mow acre after acre, usually by cutting the perimeter first then working their way into the center of the field.  Then they have to let the hay air out to dry for at least a few hours then attach the raking attachment.  It rakes the cut hay into rows.  Soon thereafter the baling attachment is installed for either round or square bales.  They drive over the lines of raked hay as the ingenious baler forms then ejects the bales.  So the farmer has to go over his field three times:  cutting, raking, baling.  Then he has to move the bales to where ever they will be stored, sometimes involving a cart or wagon.  Frequently they use another attachment similar to a fork lift to pick up the heavy round bales.  The entire process is interesting to watch.  Believe me, we have this year.

 

Jim called us during the morning via Facetime.  Faron wanted to show us all of the things he had built with the Lego system we had given him for his 5th birthday.  The label on the Lego box said it was for ages 9 and up.  Regardless, Faron had made lots and lots of neat things.  He is a smart boy!

 

I forgot to write yesterday that when we visited with Jim we were amazed at the infestation the Roanoke area has with cicadas.  The noise was almost deafening from them.  They would land on you though they don’t do any harm.

 

After Lynn went to the yard sales she got her hair cut.  This time she went to a new salon, one in Mount Sidney that had been recommended to her by our neighbor Sharon Zaccaria.  Lynn’s previous stylist told her she would not wear a mask so Lynn decided to look elsewhere to get her hair cut.  It looks really nice.  She said she felt safe there.

 

When we bought the tomato plants yesterday to replace those eaten by our rabbits, I asked how to keep the rabbits out.  The man said that fencing was all he knew would work.  This afternoon as I went back to my garden I noticed that we had some old fence wound around a pole not far from the garden.  I got it out, unrolled it and found that it plus a second piece of old fence stashed there would be long enough to surround the garden.  So I spent some time putting it up.  It is only about three feet high, surely not high enough to keep the deer away, but perhaps the rabbits will have a little more of a chore getting to the tomato plants now.  It doesn’t look great but not bad, considering.

 

Lynn and I walked a little before lunch up and down our neighbors driveway.  Bee and Janet Myers have the luxury of having a row of trees alongside their driveway which makes for shade.  We didn’t walk much but it was better than nothing.

 

Afterwards, Lynn was determined to walk some more.  It was over 85o so I told her to walk to Mt. Pisgah while I drove the Leaport loop backwards to see how shady it was.  When I met her at Mt. Pisgah I have her the bad news that the rest of the way was 30% shade, at best.  Undeterred, she still wanted to walk.  So she did as I drove my car ahead of her, parked and waited, half-mile at a time until she reached the bottom of the hilly and shadeless last mile and a half.  She got in the car and we came on home.  We did walk a third time after dinner and ended the day with a little over seven miles each.  Not bad for a very hot and busy day.

 

It was a busy day.  Just as we were about to start supper she got a text from Ann and Wes Ford inviting us to join them at the Marcelino vineyard, about ten miles from our house.  There was  a musician playing.  It sounded good but it turns out the place was quite crowded.  We sat not far from a man smoking a cigar while flies bugged us.  The conversation was good with them, at least what I could hear.  I didn’t want to get close enough to hear every word and it was hard to talk over the music.  We did split a tasty peach wine slushy there.

 

It was disturbing to me that almost no one at the vineyard acted like there was a threat of COVID-19.  People were sitting very close to each other, hugging old friends, and almost no one was wearing a mask.  Social distancing was not to be found.  Is it any wonder that Rockingham County, Harrisonburg, Shenandoah County, and Page County together have more cases of coronavirus than the entire state of West Virginia?

 

From the vineyard we drove to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Lynn had her heart set on a milkshake of German Chocolate Cake ice cream.  I had my usual.  The Fords joined us there.  The place was a zoo.  I counted over 40 cars in the parking lot.

 

I came home tonight not feeling as safe as normal.  There were just too many people everywhere I had gone in the evening.  I feel betrayed by the public that ignores most of the safeguards which will keep us from catching the virus.

 

Here are tonight’s numbers:

 

Infected                   Died

World                 6,970,640              401,964

US                       1,988,544              112,096

Virginia                  49,397                  1,460

Augusta County          125                         2

 

June 7, 2020

Beautiful day:  Sunny, high of 81o.  Why can’t every day be like this?  In just no time, it seems like we went from having to wear a heavy coat and toboggan in order to walk to having to shun walking in the afternoon because it was too hot.

 

Central UMC had its monthly drive-by Communion Service today.  In addition to Communion, we were also given two BBQ pork meals consisting of a pork sandwich, baked beans, chips, cole slaw, and cookies.  Our church has so many wonderful, giving people.

 

By 1:00 we had walked around six and a half miles.  We took a morning walk in our neighborhood and after lunch went into Staunton where we walked twice around Gypsy Hill Park.  Again, the weather was superb.

 

In Staunton Lynn visited with her mother.  Mrs. Hanger is still doing quite well.  In just six weeks she will be 101 years old!

 

Lynn and I have visited many, many national parks during our travels.  Surprisingly, one we have not been to is the one closest to our house, Shenandoah National Park.  On a clear day we can see some of the park from our back yard.   I’ve been trying to get her to go there to hike on a hot day, thinking that it would be cooler and shadier in the park.  Today I looked at the park’s website to get more specifics.  I found that we could get to a trail there labeled “easy” in just 59 minutes.  It’s called the Turk Mountain hike.  I suggested we go there today but she very understandably wanted to visit with her Mom today.  And, she had invited Ann’s family to come over to our back yard tonight and enjoy a peach slushy.  However, Ann’s allergies just don’t let her spend much time outdoors so I don’t know that this will happen.  Perhaps we can visit Shenandoah National Park some time later in June.  Today would have been a busy day there, anyway, since it’s a Sunday.

 

When I worked, especially in Rockingham County, I talked with many, many people every day.  I constantly chatted with co-workers on the Math/Technology staff, other administrators, teachers, and salespersons.  I got over 100 e-mails every day, many of which required a response on my part.  Now, during a typical day I talk with Lynn.  Period.  Sometimes I’ll say a word or two to our neighbors or someone we’ll bump into that Lynn knows.  But for the most part, she’s the only one I have meaningful conversation with.  I’m not complaining because I think I am largely an introverted person.  Thankfully, Lynn and I get along very well so our conversations are pleasant.  Because of this lifestyle,  I believe that my communication skills have declined significantly.  I’ll take the blame for all of this; I don’t usually seek to talk to anyone else.

 

For walk #3 today we drove down to Bald Rock road on the banks of the Middle River.  Like yesterday, there were several people there swimming and fishing in the not-so-clear water.  But it was shady there and fairly level so we walked about a mile and a half.

 

Tonight’s news said that twenty states had an increase in COVID-19 infections.  Here are the overall stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 7,078,998              404,975

US                       2,007,058              112,466

Virginia                  50,681                  1,472

Augusta County          132                         2

 

Over 7 million cases in the world, 2 million in the US.  Over 400,000 deaths in the world, 112,000 in the US.

 

With the glorious weather we had today, it only made sense to walk a fourth time.  So after Lynn had made some yummy peach slushies (non-alcoholic), we headed to the middle school to walk some more.  Our overall total for the day:  9.1 miles.

 

June 8, 2020

I had two items on my to-do list today:  cutting the grass and going to the dump.  I had them both done before lunchtime.  Plus, we had time to take a three mile morning walk.

 

After lunch, Lynn and I went to Walgreens in Verona so she could get two vaccinations:  Shingles and Hepatitis-A.  Then we drove to Staunton and walked two laps around Gypsy Hill Park.  By 2:30 we had accumulated 6.11 miles.  It was a nice day to walk with temperatures in the low 80’s.

 

Several yards have Trump signs in them including a couple on one of our walking routes.  Of course, Augusta County is very Republican so this isn’t a surprise.  I am tempted to put a Biden sign in our yard but I honestly believe if I did someone would destroy my mailbox as vandals have been known to do in this area.  I told Lynn today that if a really catchy sign came out I still might consider it.  I’d probably go ahead and buy another mailbox, too.

 

Our major job today is to get ready for our trip which we’ve planned for Tuesday through Thursday.  Here are the current plans:

 

On Tuesday we will leave early and drive to Roanoke to see the progress Jim has made on his boys’ swimming pool.  Then we will drive to Draper where we will park at Draper Mercantile, walk for an hour or so on the New River Trail, then return to Draper Mercantile and eat a big lunch there.  Then, pending on the weather forecast, we will either drive to Grayson Highlands State Park and walk there followed by going to Abingdon to the Comfort Suites.  Or, if we don’t go to Grayson Highlands, we will go on to Abingdon and walk a little on the Virginia Creeper Trail.  We’ll finish the day by driving to Bristol and eat ice cream and buy pastries from another of our favorite stores, The Blackberry Bakery.

 

On Wednesday, we will do what we did not do on Tuesday regarding the Virginia Creeper Trail and Grayson Highlands.  The weather forecast for Wednesday appears to be the one with the greatest chance of thunderstorms.  We had hoped to walk to a scenic place called The Channels Natural Area Preserve not far from Abingdon.  Our friends John and Ginny Bauman recommended it to us.  However, the website for this preserve says it is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.  Apparently it is difficult to maintain social distancing there and it is a popular place to hike to.

 

On Thursday, we will drive to Hungry Mother State Park in Marion on our way home and walk the loop around the lake there.  Then we’ll come on home.

 

We drove to Smiley’s so Lynn could get some ice cream and some for her friend Cheryl Kent.  By the time we got back home it was time for dinner then an after-dinner walk. We ended up the day with almost 8.5 miles under our belts.

 

We had a real treat in the evening.  We had made arrangements for the Gutshall grandchildren to come over and play outside.  Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie rode their bikes, played basketball, played on the playground, and played tennis for almost two hours.  It was SO good to see them all here again.  It was the first time anyone had played basketball or tennis on our court since March.  I even had a chance to hit some balls with the three boys.

 

Lynn treated them to peach or strawberry slushies which they loved.  So did I.  They are all good kids.  It was really good to see them here again.

 

We still maintained social distance with them.  After all, the pandemic is still going on.  Here’s my daily proof:

Infected                   Died

World                 7,193,438              408,613

US                       2,026,493              113,055

Virginia                  51,251                  1,477

Augusta County          136                         2

 

I’ll be writing this blog from Abingdon tomorrow night.  It will be our first night away since the Greenbrier in March before this all began.

 

June 9, 2020

 

Whew!  It’s almost 9:30 pm and I’m just starting to write.  I feel like I’ve been driving and walking all day.  But it has been a good day for us as we left home for the first time since early March.

 

We left home around 8:15 and drove straight to Roanoke to see the progress Jim had made on his backyard pool.  He is awaiting an electrician to install a circuit for the pump.  He has the area prepped now.  The boys are very excited.  Coen told us that there was one rule:  you couldn’t go into the pool unless your Mom or your Dad was with you.   Good thing he knows the rule!

 

We left Roanoke and followed our plans.  First we stopped at Draper Mercantile and had a fine lunch there.  It is right on the New River Trail so we walked for about three miles on the trail.  It was hot but the trail had lots of shade which made it bearable.

 

From Draper, we drove to Abingdon and checked in at the Comfort Suites hotel.  They have procedures in place to keep it very safe.  We’ve felt fine the entire time we’ve been here.  We actually didn’t stay at the hotel long in the afternoon before heading back out in the car for an hour+ drive to Grayson Highlands State Park.

 

This is a park we’d never been to before.  Basically it is a huge park which sits on the top of a hill in a section of Virginia that is very, very sparsely populated.  We elected to take a hike on one of the marked trails called the Twin Pinnacles Trail.  It was listed as a moderately hard trail.  For us, it was a little more than moderate.  It was easy to follow the trail but the surface was tough.  It was like walking in a dried up creek bed for some of the time.  The rocks were numerous and of varying sizes.  There was also some climbing stair-like rock sections.  We normally walk a mile and a half in less than 30 minutes; it took is something like 75 minutes to traverse this trail. It was pretty in parts.  And the temperatures in the highlands were ten degrees cooler than in Abingdon so we appreciated that.

 

We drove back to the hotel and ate a small supper then finished our plans for the day by driving to Bristol to the Blackbird Bakery.  There we bought ice cream for dessert and I bought a donut for a late night snack.  Plus we bought cinnamon rolls for tomorrow’s breakfast.

 

I mentioned in a previous post that the attendant here at Comfort Suites is Jamie Arnold.  She gave us a $5 gift card for the Blackbird when we told her where we were going.  She said she would never get to use it and told us to buy something with it.  We told her that we’d bring her back something which we did.  We found a Chocolate Mousse Cake for her.

 

When we returned to the hotel it was still daylight so we had time to walk around the neighborhood.  We walked past a place where we used to enjoy lunch, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center.  It used to be called Heartwood.  Right now it is closed. Next to it is the Virginia Highlands Community College which we walked through.  All in all we got in a little over seven miles today.

 

On this walk we could see I-81 and could see a wreck which must have occurred just a few moments before we started our walk.   A car was upside down in the median and another vehicle banged up on the shoulder. No one appeared hurt, though.  I-81 is a dangerous and busy road.  We got on it at exit 227 and got off at exit 14 for the hotel.  Actually we drove to exit 3 to get to the Blackbird Bakery.

 

We didn’t get much news today; we listened to music instead as we drove.  So I don’t know what happened nationally today but nonetheless here are today’s COVID-19 stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 7,316,944              413,627

US                       2,045,549              114,148

Virginia                  51,738                  1,496

Augusta County          137                         2

 

June 10, 2020

Another very busy day!  In two days we have visited four parks.  We have two more planned for tomorrow on our way home.

 

Yesterday, as I wrote, we walked at the New River Trail State Park and at Grayson Highlands State Park.  Today we walked at Natural Tunnel State Park and the Virginia Creeper National Park.  Both were excellent days.

 

Our day began with a tasty breakfast.  We each had an excellent cinnamon roll we had purchased from the Blackbird Bakery last night.  Afterwards, we walked a little in the neighborhood then decided to drive to the Natural Tunnel State Park.

 

Throughout yesterday and today we’ve had to keep one eye on Google Maps and one eye on Weather.com and Dark Sky.  During both days there were downpours and there were lots of times we spent walking.  Yet never did we get wet.  We were both lucky and observant.

 

The drive to Natural Tunnel Park took right at an hour.  Strangely, to get from here in Abingdon to a Virginia state park, we had to drive through Tennessee.  It turned out to be well worth the drive.

 

We paid our $5 entry fee at the park and drove to the visitor’s center.  Ours was the only car in the entire lot.  Indeed, until shortly before we left I believe we were the only visitors to the entire park.  And it was a great park.

 

To get from the visitor’s center to the tunnel itself, we had to take a walkway down and down and down.  Coming back up I counted 172 steps.  They actually have a ski lift which takes visitors down to the tunnel but it only operates Friday – Monday.  When we got there, the tunnel was huge.  In fact, in the 1880’s the railroad line had laid a track through the tunnel alongside the river that actually has dug the tunnel over millions of years.  Would you believe that while we were there a train actually came through the tunnel.  I have lots of pictures of my website.

 

As I said, the trail back up was strenuous but we still had energy to walk so we took a hike along what was labeled as Lover’s Leap trail.  Unlike the trail we had taken the previous day at Grayson Highlands, this trail was not primitive.  Much of it was paved and it provided excellent scenery.  We took a different trail back to the parking lot.  It was also a fine walking trail.  This park provided us with unexpected good natural beauty, great trails, and even clean bathrooms–all of which we had to ourselves!

 

After the hour’s ride back to the hotel we ate our yogurt lunch and once again headed out to walk.  This time we drove to the Alvarado trailhead on the Virginia Creeper Trail.  We walked back towards Abingdon on the trail which took us to the most beautiful bridge on the entire Creeper Trail, one that takes it over the Holston River.  By the time we started walking the temperatures were in the low 80’s and the humidity was very high.  Fortunately, the Creeper Trail has an excellent canopy of shade.  Plus, the trail was very level.  We walked about four miles in all before heading back to the hotel.

 

We got back and ordered dinner from Luke’s Cafe.  We’d eaten there before, knew their food was good, and we weren’t disappointed.  Lynn had a pimento cheese and bacon hamburger and I had a hot club sandwich.

 

We finished in time for, you guessed it, another walk.  This time we went to the beginning of the Creeper Trail in Abingdon and walked one mile out and back, accumulating nine miles of walking for the day.  During this walk we had a most amazing experience.  As we started walking, Lynn said to me that a lady walking just behind us looked just like our friend John Bauman’s sister.  We had met her once when John took us to her house in Marion.  Having met this lady only one time, Lynn still recognized her.  We waited until we were on our way back to town when we met her coming toward us on the trail.  Lynn inquired and, sure enough, it was John’s sister.  It was so coincidental that we met on this trail since neither of us live here.

 

We had to hustle back because this is Wednesday night, the night for the Hill Family Zoom.  Everyone joined in tonight.  Faron and Coen are a handful for Jim but they do participate as do Thomas, Georgia, and Betsy.  Not much meaningful gets said during our forty minute Zoom sessions but I still love them.

 

After the Zoom, Lynn and I had just enough time to run to Abingdon’s ice cream store, The Ice Cream Stop, where she got her usual peanut butter and chocolate milkshake and I got a hot fudge sundae.  We have eaten so well on this trip.

 

I told Lynn that before we left home I was afraid there would be times during our Abingdon stay that we would be bored.  This has not been the case.  During every spare minute at the hotel I’ve uploaded pictures.  I’m up to 241 pictures posted thus far from this trip and we’ve got two more parks to go tomorrow.

 

We’ve been very fortunate with the weather.  And, I think we had good plans for this trip.  Thanks to both, we’ve seen lots that we’d not seen before in this section of Virginia despite the fact that we come here at least six times each year.

 

Again today I have not had a chance to see much news but here are today’s stats anyway:

 

Infected                   Died

World                 7,451,523              418,872

US                       2,066,401              115,130

Virginia                  52,177                  1,514

Augusta County          139                         2

 

June 11, 2020

Our plans for this last day of our get-away were to get an early breakfast from Cracker Barrel. Unfortunately, it didn’t open until 8:00 so we decided to postpone breakfast until after a morning walk.  We were able to walk on a third section of the Creeper Trail for two miles.  We drove to the Watauga trailhead and walked there, then went to the Cracker Barrel to pick up our breakfast.  We came back to the hotel and ate it.

 

Our children seemed to be concerned about our safety from COVID-19 on this trip.  I think we’ve been very safe including this hotel.  Every time we entered the hotel we wore our masks and the person behind the counter always had hers on.  We could come up to our room on the elevator by touching only with our elbows.  We could exit without touching any door handles. We brought our own disinfectant wipes; Lynn wiped down surfaces inside our room as soon as she walked in.  We had no maid service during our stay.  We really didn’t need it as there were sufficient towels, wash clothes, etc. provided for our entire stay.  We did need more shampoo and toilet paper so we were able to put this down on an order form supplied when we checked in; they were left for us inside a bag outside our room.  In other words, no one but us came into our room during our entire stay.

 

Our walks were all outdoors.  There were few other hikers where we walked and maintained more than six feet of distance whenever we passed.  Our food was all eaten in our room via pickups.  Plus, the news here gave the statistics for coronavirus in this area which surprised us that they have significantly fewer cases here than where we live.  In other words, I believe we were just as safe here as we would have been at home.  I hope I’m right.

 

We would like to come back.  One place we stopped at for a while yesterday was a rug discount store.  Lynn wants to replace our living room rug.  This store had rugs which cost considerably less than she thought we’d have to spend.  Plus they ship for free.  So I think we’ll be back although the Barter Theatre won’t be opening for a while.  Actually, the Barter is so desperate to restart that they are going to be doing children’s performances at a nearby outdoor drive-in theatre starting in a few days.  I don’t think we’ll be going to any of those performances.  Another reason for coming back is to walk on the Channels trail when it reopens.  I’d like to ride bikes on the Creeper Trail though Lynn won’t ride anywhere where there is a hill.

 

After breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed for Hungry Mother State Park in Marion.  It was only 40 minutes away.  The park there has a large lake with a very nice trail all the way around its circumference.  This hike was right at six miles, the longest one-time walk we’ve taken in a while.  The weather couldn’t have been better and the trail was in good shape.  It had only a few hills on it and had a canopy of shade nearly the entire way.  Some of the trail could have been ridden on a bike but some parts would be very hard on a two-wheeler.  I’m really glad we walked it.

 

The sound of cicadas rang throughout the hike.  Like the trees around Jim’s house, the trees around the lake had thousands of them.  They seem to especially like the rhododendron bushes.  We also saw and heard them on our second walk of the day at Claytor Lake.  One even startled Lynn when it landed on her.

 

The name Hungry Mother is a puzzling one.  I found this online:  Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia is named after Hungry Mother Creek. The creek was supposedly listed on a 1774 land survey as “Hungers Mother” creek. The Name “Hungry Mother” was not officially attached to it until 1929. The traditional story handed down for 200 years (and that park rangers still tell) is that the hungry mother is Molly Marley, a victim of a Native American raid on a Virginia settlement. Marley and her child were taken captive, but they escaped into the woods, where they found only berries to eat for many days. Molly eventually collapsed and died. Her child walked on and found a settlement, and cried “Hungry mother” to the residents. The child, not specified as boy or girl, led them to Molly’s body.

 

We ate our lunch on a picnic table at Hungry Mother then headed north on I-81.  Our initial plan was to drive to Natural Bridge State Park but Lynn noticed that the cost of admission there was $8 per person and we’d not be arriving early enough to enjoy much of it.  So, we instantly came up with a replacement:  Claytor Lake State Park.  I don’t ever remember going to Claytor Lake before.  It turned out to be a good choice.  Like the other parks, it had nice trails, well marked and not too difficult.  We walked on the Lakeview Trail (which, it turns out, doesn’t have that many views of the lake), then on Claytor Lake Trail, and finally on Poplar Leaf Trail.  On these trails at many places we saw thousands of holes in the dirt as if someone had drilled into the ground.  As we were leaving the park, I asked a ranger if these holes were made by the locusts as they emerged after their seventeen years in the earth.  He confirmed my suspicion.

 

On our way home we decided to order curbside pickup from Chicano Boy in Staunton.  It was another good decision.  We had never eaten there but Ann has told us many times how good their food is.  She was right.  We both had a salad with pork carnitas, mixed green, black beans, and cilantro-lime dressing.  We also had “supreme potatoes” with pico, cotija cheese, and roasted cheese.  For dessert we had slushies Lynn made for us tonight and also for her friends tomorrow.

 

After supper what did we do?  Of course, we walked again.   We walked two more miles on Leaport Road.  So if you do the math:  2 miles on Creeper Trail, 6 miles on Hungry Mother Park Lake, 4 miles at Claytor Lake, 2 miles on Leaport Road plus some random other steps, we ended up with a personal record of 13.8 miles today!  That’s more than a half-marathon.  Lynn took a screen shot of her phone to prove it.

 

I also managed to find the time to upload all of my pictures and organize them into a Flickr album.  It has over 250 pictures in it which prove what a great trip this was for us.

 

On our way back we talked about taking another similar trip, even possibly a super long drive to Oregon in October.  That would be 42 hours of driving each way, though.  I’m not sure I’m up to all that though the past three days were great.  We truly had a great time.  Tomorrow we celebrate 44 years of marriage–I’ll have lots more to say about that then.  Time now to post today’s COVID-19 stats and get some rest after all that walking.

 

Infected                   Died

World                 7,589,101              423,692

US                       2,089,701              116,034

Virginia                  52,647                  1,520

Augusta County          139                         2

 

June 12, 2020

Forty four years ago today was perhaps the most significant event in my life:  Lynn and I were married at Central United Methodist Church in Staunton.  My goodness how we’ve changed since then!  Fortunately, our changes have brought us even closer together.  I certainly appreciate her companionship but in this COVID-19 era it has been extraordinarily important to me.  She has other friends she talks to on the phone and in person while for me, she is the only person that I have regular and significant conversations with.  After all of these years I have developed a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for her.  She is a gem of a partner and I love her deeply!

 

I gave her four cards this morning, two that I had purchased from hallmark.com and two that I made including pictures from our wedding.  My favorite was one I made which had a picture from our wedding with the title “We’ve come a long way…” followed by a picture from our Italy trip with the caption “…We’ve gone a long way” and on the inside a picture from one of our walks with the title “We’ve got a long way yet to go…”

 

Since we just took a three day mini-vacation, we didn’t really plan anything special for our anniversary.  Tonight we’ll just eat leftovers from last night’s food from Chicano Boy then go to Smiley’s for ice cream.

 

We did take a walk this morning, no surprise.  The weather couldn’t have been better.  While we walked our three miles, we talked with seven different people who stopped their vehicle or stopped what they were doing when we walked by.  First we chatted with a man whose name we didn’t catch who rode his bike on Leaport Road as we left home.  He told us he was 83 years old and still rides 20-25 miles.  And we thought we were in good shape!  Next we talked to the fellow who just cut, raked, and baled our hay, Steve McAlister,   We wanted to see if he could dig the post holes for Lynn’s pergola idea.  He said he could.  Then we talked with our neighbors who live in the Baker’s old house.  They are a young couple and though I don’t recall their names Lynn did teach the lady’s mother, Amy Weaver, at Fort Defiance High School.  Then we chatted with our neighbors Bee and Janet Myers who were walking in their driveway.  While the four of us talked, another neighbor and bicyclist, Dan Tratnack, rode past and stopped to tell us he and him wife were moving to New Hope, about five miles away.

 

I had left our tomato garden in good shape when we went to Abingdon.  Yet when I looked this morning there were weeds started all over it again so I got the tiller our and tilled between the 20 tomato plants.

 

I’ve been stewing a little for the past several days about the door to our storage area under the patio. This is commonly known as the stinky room in our house.  Indeed, even though I’ve had vents added to both sides it still gets way too little flow of air and way too much moisture so it is a breeding ground for all kinds of things you don’t want around your house.  It is impossible to keep the door frame dry all of the time.  Even though the door is a metal door its core is wood which inevitably rots with all the moisture after several years.  In other words, I’ve replaced it several times since we’ve been living here.  Just last week the hinges came off the door indicating that it was time to replace it again.  I’m thinking of just putting a storm door on the outside since the only purpose of a door would be to keep animals out.  There’s certainly nothing valuable there which needs to be protected.  So I’ve spent a good bit of time looking online to see what the possibilities are.

 

Lynn was gone most of the afternoon at her friend Cheryl’s.  Then she went to see her mother and sister Kay.  When she came home we ate our dinner of leftover Chicano Boy salads then went to the Grottoes town park where we walked two laps, each 1.4 miles.  That gave us a little over six miles for the day–plenty after the 13.8 mile day yesterday.

 

I looked through the news today hoping to find something positive about COVID-19 but I found little.  In an article about Dr. Fauci, ABC News said “A vaccine isn’t expected until 2021 and there’s only one drug — remdesivir — that has shown modest improvements in patients.”  Perhaps one bit of good news is that Virginia is not listed among the twenty states which is showing an increase in the number of cases.  Here are the stats for today:

Infected                   Died

World                 7,724,832              427,680

US                       2,116,428              116,819

Virginia                  53,211                  1,534

Augusta County          141                         2

 

June 13, 2020

The weather today was great for walking until late afternoon when it rained a little.  So we took an early morning walk of three miles then an early afternoon loop walk of 3.6 miles.  All in all, by dinnertime we had totaled 7.1 miles for the day.  The temperatures were in the mid 70’s, just right for walking.

 

Again during our walking we ended up talking to more people who live in our neighborhood.  First, Christ Sheets and his wife stopped when driving by us and asked, of all things, about a Christmas decoration we always put on our front porch.  Lynn made the decoration by buying a large wooden H from Hobby Lobby then adorning it with Christmas tree ball ornaments which she hot glued to the wooden H.  The Sheets couple was curious how Lynn had made it so she gave them a quick lesson.

 

When we got back to our neighbors’ house, the Michaels, who own the pig, dogs, and cows, Lacey stopped us to tell Lynn she had found some boards Lynn had previously asked her about.  Lynn has been very interested in making a large WELCOME sign for our front porch with the letters painted on an old wooden board.  Lacey had found some and gave them to us.

 

The last person we spoke with today was Eddie Michael who owns a construction and heavy equipment business that is run out of his property on Willow Spout Road, just one mile from our house.  He was actually driving a golf cart between some of his property (he owns a high percentage of the lots around this area) and stopped to talk with us briefly.

 

Lynn’s interest in the WELCOME sign was piqued today when her friend Ann Ford asked her to come to her house to make a sign.  Ann had the wood so Lynn went there and painted the board.  She’s in the process of adding the letters of WELCOME from stencils.  Now, with the boards from Lacey, she wants to invite some of her friends out here to have a sign-making party.

 

I spent a good bit of time while she was gone finding the best placement for her Pergola in our back yard.  It is to be a hexagon shape with each side eight feet long.  I placed a peg in the ground where I thought the middle of the hexagon should be.  Then, by using an 8 foot string attached to the peg and an 8 foot board, I was able to place pegs in the six places where holes will be dug for the posts.  Our neighbor Steve McAllister is going to bring his tractor to dig the holes and Jim has offered to set the posts and build the Pergola.  We’re going to order the six swings for it online.  I set the hexagon so that two of its sides would be parallel to the tennis court fence and where it would be shaded in the late afternoon and evening.  It was a fun geometry task.  We’re hoping to get the holes dug next week and have Jim come the week following.

 

In the meantime, where the Pergola will be causes us to remove the clothesline.  The clothesline poles were old and bent anyway but I’ll have to dig at least one of them out this week before the post holes are dug.  That may not be an easy task.  I know they’ve been there for 50 years.

 

Lynn has decided that she wants to install a umbrella-style clothesline like her sister Kay’s.  We’ll be ordering it from Amazon.

 

This afternoon we went to a 50th wedding anniversary outdoor party for some old friends of ours, Harvey and Christi Almarode.  Harvey and I had very similar careers.  Both of us taught high school math and in 1989 we both became Supervisors of Math, he in Augusta County and me in neighboring Rockingham County.  We then spent at least twenty years sharing ideas, teaching courses together, and attending conferences together.  I have a lot of respect for both of them.  Both of them seemed very glad that we came to their party and, likewise, we were glad we went.  There were lots of people there but we maintained our distance for the most part.

 

I wish there was news of some cure and/or vaccine for COVID-19.  It seems like weeks since we’ve had any such news yet without a cure and vaccine we cannot return to life as we knew it.  The news nowadays is more focused on racial strife and Trump’s idiocy.  There are some stories about states which have gone back to normal life without the shelter-in-place restrictions then had an outburst of new coronavirus cases.  Florida and South Carolina are among the twenty two states showing an increase in infections after re-opening too soon.  There are still around a thousand Americans per day who die due to COVID-19.

 

To prove this, here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 7,849,069              431,555

US                       2,140,990              117,500

Virginia                  53,869                  1,541

Augusta County          143                         2

 

Again Virginia is not among the twenty two states showing an increase in cases.

 

So we had a few minutes after dinner tonight.  What to do?  Oh yes, walk again.  This time it was at Stewart Middle School.  We ended up the day with 8.8 miles.  Good for us!

 

June 14, 2020

It’s been thirteen weeks since Central UMC held morning worship services.  Fortunately, Pastor Won Un has been able to record his messages and Music Director Yi-Ping Chen has provided superb music all done via YouTube.  All I’ve had to do is to provide a link on the church’s website.  Today’s music was especially good; two songs were performed by our friend John Bauman who played guitar and sang.  Our church’s clientele is older; I can’t see us having regular morning worship services for quite a while.

 

We did drive to the church this morning, though not for church services.  Millie Brown, the church’s fantastic gardener, offered some of her extra plants to members.  We got five zinnias and came back and planted them by our mailbox.  Lynn also got an inside plant which she re-potted.

 

Before coming back from Central, we stopped at Gypsy Hill park and walked two laps.  After lunch we walked the Leaport Loop.  The weather was a little cool but very pleasant.  The total from these two walks was 6.7 miles.

 

Lynn’s sister Jane, her boyfriend Darrell, and her daughter Lee came over this afternoon to play tennis.  I hit a little with them, too.  Hitting a tennis ball always makes me feel better.

 

Tonight was our bi-weekly Covenant Group meeting.  John and Eileen Myers volunteered to host at their house in Staunton.  As usual, five couples were there.  And as usual, we had a good time talking and keeping socially distant.

In coronavirus news, ABC news report that Florida had record levels of new COVID-19 cases this weekend as more beaches reopened in the Sunshine State.  On Sunday, the Florida Department of Health reported its second consecutive day of more than 2,000 new daily cases, with 2,016. On Saturday, it reported a daily record of 2,581.  There are twenty two states which are seeing an increase in cases.

The news also said that numerous colleges were reporting that a number of cases had been detected among athletes returning to campus in preparation for fall sports.  I really, really doubt that there will be any football in America this autumn.  As I’ve said before, we will not return to life as we know it until there is a vaccine for coronavirus and a treatment for those who have COVID-19.

I’ve written about all of the racial protests and even riots that were triggered with a black man, George Floyd, was killed by a Minneapolis policeman.  He was buried last week and some of the unrest had settled down.  Just when we didn’t need anything else, last night a policeman shot and killed a black man as he ran away from being arrested for being drunk in public at a Wendy’s restaurant where he fell asleep in his car in the drive-through lane.  The riotous crowd burned the Wendy’s down last night.

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 7,984,432              435,177

US                       2,162,144              117,853

Virginia                  54,506                  1,546

Augusta County          146                         2

Two numbers stand out to me.  First, Virginia’s death total rose only by five from the previous day.  Secondly, nearly eight million people have been infected worldwide.

 

June 15, 2020

Three months ago, on March 15, we attended our last community event–church services.  Immediately thereafter schools and businesses were closed due to COVID-19 fear and we became isolated, an isolation that has continued every day since then.  The night of March 15 Ann’s family ate dinner at our house.  This was the last time her family or any other of our childrens’ families has gathered inside our home.  We’ve seen them all at occasional times since then but always at a distance and almost always outdoors.  Grandparents weren’t made to keep distance between themselves and their grandchildren.

One of our favorite places to visit is The Greenbrier.  The hotel has re-opened, as have many places in West Virginia.  However, today the Greenbrier County Health Department issued this release:

Graystone Baptist Church located in Ronceverte, WV has had an outbreak of Covid 19. So far, there have been 17 people that have tested positive with many other tests pending. The church leadership is working with the health department to insure all people exposed have been contacted and tested. The National Guard will be disinfecting the church, and church services have been discontinued at this point until Further notice. The health department encourages all those who are having symptoms or feel as if they have been exposed to be tested. And also continue to advise everyone to practice social distancing, good hygiene and wearing masks while in public.

On ABC news tonight they said there were 28 people infected at the church.

 

The weather has taken a turn for cooler temperatures. The high today is scheduled to be only 67o.  It makes for great walking so the first thing we did after breakfast was to take our neighborhood walk.

 

Of course, we began the day with our neighborhood three mile hike.  Afterwards Lynn’s friend Pat Collins came over to visit, socially distant, outside with her.  While they were talking I decided to build a model of her Pergola so I could get a better idea of how it will all go together once we start digging and erecting it.  I’m glad I did because now I have a visual of just how each piece will be set.

 

Today was both Garbage day and Food Bank pickup day.  Lynn went with me on both runs and we were able to get them done by 2:00.

 

Tomorrow we’re going to visit Avon Hill where we MAY vacation with the Gutshalls and Foys from July 13-16.  It is south of Charlottesville, about a 75 minute drive.  I’m going to list questions below I want to have answered from visiting with the owner/manager:

  • What will be our total cost?
  • How much of a deposit must be made and when?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • Where will everyone sleep (12 of us)?
  • What kinds of cleaning will take place before we come?
  • When will the last previous tenant have been there?
  • Is the pool completely ready for use?
  • Is it true that no one else will be on the property, including pool, while we are there?
  • What is the story on internet access?
  • What activities besides swimming could the teenage boys do?
  • Is there a basketball goal?
  • What is provided and not provided? Linens & towels?
  • Where is the nearest market for food and incidentals?
  • If Jim’s family could be talked into a day visit, is that OK?
  • Is it safe to wade/swim in the Rockfish river? If so, do you have tubes and/or kayaks?
  • Is there an extra cleaning fee for using the pool?

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               8,9108,625              438,583

US                       2,182,908              118,282

Virginia                  54,886                  1,552

Augusta County            146                         2

Our walking total for the day was 8.1 miles including a third walk of the day at Stewart Middle School.

 

June 16, 2020

Our plan for today was to go to Costco during the senior hour, come back home and walk, then go to Avon Hill to check out the property.  Lynn had plans for making bread while all of this was happening.  For several reasons it didn’t quite work out.  First, Lynn had the opening time for Costco wrong.  She thought it was 8:30 when it was really 9:00.  Then she checked with her two Cheryl friends (Kent and Wright) who each said they wanted her to buy something for them.  Actually Cheryl Kent asked Lynn to buy two 50 pound bags of sugar not for herself but for the Central Food Pantry.  By the time we got home later than expected, waited on Cheryl Wright to pick up what we had bought for her, and getting Lynn’s bread baked, there was no time to walk.  Plus it was raining very lightly.

 

So we headed to Avon Hill with a quick stop at Central UMC to drop off the sugar.  It took us about 75 minutes to get to our destination, a pleasant drive through the country south of Charlottesville.  There we met Sarah, one of the owners and manager of the property.

 

Sarah gave us a thorough tour.  The Lodge was huge.  It sleeps twenty-some.  It has two dining rooms, a large kitchen, a rec room, and plenty of bathrooms.  There are other buildings on the property with beds but we wouldn’t need any of them.  The pool is a short walk away.  It has its own kitchenette and bathroom.  I took over 40 pictures which I forwarded to the Gutshalls and Foys once we returned.

 

We put down our deposit, 50% of the fee plus a $500 damage deposit which will be refunded.  It is a lot of money but I believe it is worth it.  We could have saved this money and the kids would have eventually inherited it but I think it best to spend it on a memory.  We have plenty of money to live off and this cost is approximately the same as the Eden Resort cost which we canceled due to coronavirus.  All we need now is for the other families to give us a thumbs up.  Our deposit is refundable for a few days.

 

Sarah was easy to work with.  I think we’ll have a good time.  Lynn and I have already come up with some games and activities for the kids and their parents.

 

When we got back we took a quick walk, about 2.7 miles.  Then we fixed dinner and celebrated by going to Smiley’s for our favorite dessert, ice cream.  Our walking total for today is probably our lowest since the pandemic started.  But it was raining this evening so we couldn’t add to our total after dinner.  Our total for the day was only 4.2 miles.

A piece of good news is that Dexamethasone, a common steroid, has been shown to be effective in treating those with COVID-19.  The news came from England which said it was going to start treating patients immediately with it.  Here’s the quote from ABC news:  As the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, researchers studying possible treatments have found a commonly used steroid called dexamethasone that might help save one-third of patients who end up on ventilators.  While another drug, remdesivir, has been shown to help people severely ill with COVID-19 recover more quickly, this is the first time any drug has been shown to significantly boost the survival rate of patients on ventilators.  Experts emphasized that people who are less sick may not benefit from dexamethasone, and implored the American public to adhere to preventative measures that include social distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene.  The study suggests that people in the latter, most severe stages will benefit, not patients from earlier stages.  It won’t prevent them from moving into serious sickness, but once you are there, the drug can be given and you can possibly reduce your chances for mortality.

In other news, President Trump will give his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination in Florida on August 27, the Republican National Committee announced Thursday, where the state has reported a record number of new coronavirus cases on each of the last three days.  He was supposed to have given it in North Carolina but the governor there wouldn’t budge on guaranteeing that restrictions would be lifted by August there.  Trump has also scheduled a massive MAGA rally in Tulsa Oklahoma on June 20.  Who knows how many COVID-19 cases will come out of there?

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World                 8,248,074              445,140

US                       2,207,305              119,111

Virginia                  55,331                  1,570

Augusta County            152                         2

 

Another thousand Americans died in one day…

 

June 17, 2020

The hourly forecast for today and tomorrow, every hour, is rain.  For June, the temperatures are very cold, too, with highs today not even reaching 65o.  This will make for two very boring days with little or no walking.  Yuck!

 

We did find two small windows of time to walk in the neighborhood but that was all the walking we could do the entire day.  Our total for the entire day was only three miles.

 

On our first walk, Lynn got an e-mail at 9:55 that she was supposed to attend a Zoom meeting at 10:00 with ELL teachers in Rockingham County.  She was on that call for two hours, then learned that she wasn’t supposed to have been invited to the meeting!  The person who sent out the invitation didn’t remove her name (or others who were likewise not supposed to be tied up with this meeting) and she was not told during the call that it was supposed to be a committee meeting only.  She did say that she learned some important things in the meeting.

 

We had a chance to talk to all three of our children today.  We talked to Jim about building Lynn’s Pergola, which won’t happen for a few days due to the weather forecast.  We talked to Kay and Ann about our Avon Hill trip in July.

 

The weather today was really bad–not a constant or heavy rain but a cold drizzle nearly all day long.  Lynn and I wore sweatshirts inside the house today because the air conditioning, not the heat, is turned on now.

 

We made a Walmart run today to the Dayton store.  As usual, I stayed in the car while Lynn ran inside and grabbed a couple of items.  She wasn’t gone long and said she was socially distant from everyone there and wore her mask.  She was happy to be checked out by a former ELL student who said he had just graduated from high school and was going to Mary Baldwin this fall.

 

For dinner tonight we made another car run to Rockingham County, this time to Penn Laird to Vito’s Pizza Pie.  We got our favorite, Soprano, of which we ate less than half tonight and will also have for dinner tomorrow night.

 

I worked a long time today on a family game that we’ll be playing at Avon Hill.  I don’t want to reveal any more about it in this blog.

 

We had our usual Wednesday night blog tonight without Ann.  The weather was too rotten for her to join us; she has to do it outside because her Verizon signal inside her house is too weak.  It was good to see Faron, in particular, talking so much.

 

I didn’t have a chance to check the news tonight but here are today’s coronavirus stats anyway:

Infected                   Died

World                 8,393,096              450,452

US                       2,234,471              119,941

Virginia                  55,775                  1,583

Augusta County            157                         2

 

June 18, 2020

There are two types of errors that can be made with a prediction:  predicting that something will happen but it doesn’t or not predicting that something will happen but it does.  The people at weather.com must think that the latter is the worse thing to do.  So they frequently predict that it will rain when it does not.  That was certainly the way it happened today.  I wrote yesterday that every hour in today’s forecast had rain in it.  Yet it did not rain from 6:00 am until 5:00 pm.  In fact, it was sunny at times.  It may not have rained before 6:00 am–that was just the time I got up–so for at least eleven consecutive hours the forecast was wrong.  Even when it rained at 5:00 it was a light shower which quickly ended.

 

I should be happy it didn’t rain because we got in two good walks in the morning and early afternoon, our usual neighborhood walk and the Leaport loop.  That netted 6.6 miles for us.  After that, Lynn had a webinar to do online so I got my grass cut, something I did not believe was possible yesterday.  What bothers me about this type of weather prediction is that you can’t plan anything for fear that the forecast will hold true.

 

This reminds me of an experience I’ve had with some doctors.  They will review your symptoms and give you a laundry list of everything that could be wrong, some of which might be fatal.  Then you’re supposed to be happy when the actual cause of your symptoms is something minor.  I had that experience back in December.  I had a case of pneumonia a few years ago so when I visited my respiratory doctor, Dr. Degene, at Sentara-Rockingham Memorial Hospital, he said he would like for me to have another CT scan to make sure it had cleared up entirely.  When the doctor who reviewed my scan reported, here’s what she wrote:  “Multiple ill-defined nodules and areas of nodular consolidation are seen throughout the right lung. Findings could represent infection, inflammation (both acute or chronic) or malignancy. Short-term follow-up is recommended with CT in 1-3 months.”  I panicked when I read malignancy.  My gosh, I’ve got lung cancer, I thought.  I immediately made an appointment to talk with Dr. Degene.  While he didn’t quite laugh at me, he did make it clear to me that I did not have lung cancer and showed me the scan so I could see what she was reporting about.  He said the spots were likely nothing and agreed that a follow-up CT scan would be appropriate.  All that was before COVID-19, of course, so I haven’t had that follow-up.

 

Governor Northram announced today that although Virginia’s COVID-19 record is improving, the state will not be moving into Phase 3 of reopening yet.  When it does start, here are some of its features:

  • Virginia’s 50-person limit on gatherings established in Phase 2 (that was an increase from the original 10-person limit) will expand to a 250-person limit
  • Non-essential retail establishments’ capacity limit will be lifted, but physical distancing still required
  • Restaurants’ capacity limit will be lifted, but physical distancing still required
  • Entertainment venues (including museums and zoos) will have their capacity limit raised to 50% with a maximum of 1,000 people in any space
  • Gyms and fitness centers will have their capacity limit raised from 30% to 75%
  • Personal grooming services will still need to follow all existing distancing requirements
  • Childcare services can reopen across Virginia
  • Overnight summer camps remain closed in Phase 3
  • Public pools will be allowed to open up to 75% capacity, with distancing requirements in place

Today’s coronavirus stats are as follows:

Infected                   Died

World                 8,552,653              455,190

US                       2,258,361              120,542

Virginia                  56,238                  1,586

Augusta County          164                         2

 

I believe that Virginia’s additional deaths from yesterday, 3, is the lowest number since I started entering the data on April 20.  I will be elated when that number is zero.

 

Florida, Arizona, California and Texas set a record today for new COVID-19 cases.  Thirteen football players at the University of Texas tested positive.  In Arizona, 57% of the new cases are in people under age 45.  In Texas the governor refused to issue an order that people wear masks but the California governor made mask wearing in public mandatory.

 

I worked more today on my game activity for Avon Hill.  It is coming along nicely. I think we’ll have fun with it.

 

June 19, 2020

Things are starting to get moving on Lynn’s Pergola project.  While we were out on our walk this morning we ran into Steve McAllister who said he could bring his tractor and dig the holes tomorrow morning.  So we called Jim to see if he could come next week to get it constructed.  He wanted us to get an appointment at Simmons Auto Repair for his car while he is here so they can fix a leak on his oil pan, so we called them and they said Thursday would work.  It looks like he’ll be coming here then.

When we got home from the walk I called Martin’s Native Lumber and ordered the lumber we need which consists of six 6″ x 6″ x 10′ posts, six 6″ x 6″ x 8′ beams, six 2″ x 6″ x 8′ supports, and twelve 2″ x 2″ x 8′ boards to support the posts while they are being set.  Also on that order were 18 bags of concrete, each 80 pounds.  They are going to deliver it here on Monday morning.  Lynn hasn’t ordered the swings yet.  I guess she will do that soon.

My next chore was to cut the clothes line down and dig out the post which was sitting in the way of the Pergola.  It was set in concrete so it wasn’t real easy to dig out but in a half hour or so I got it out of the ground and rolled it out of the way.  When I did this I decided to shift the entire Pergola toward the tennis court two feet or so.  That required remeasuring everything but I finally got that done.  So tomorrow morning Steve will dig six 36″ deep holes for the Pergola posts.

I have done lots of measuring and thinking about this Pergola.  This part of the project I don’t mind.  It’s actually doing the work that I have no confidence in my own abilities, and for good reason.  I’d be a much better architect than contractor.

Lynn has a project of her own she’s spending time planning out.  It is to buy and then personalize shirts for our Avon Hill vacation.  Last year she ingeniously came up with the idea of buying everyone a colorful shirt and putting the words “2019 COUSINCATION” on each of them.  I’m not sure what she’ll put on this year’s shirts.

In order for her to begin her project she needed shirts.  Today they were on sale at Michael’s though she also had to go to Walmart to get some sizes.  She was able to get them all and paid a great price for them, especially at Michael’s.  She is such a good shopper!  Sometimes I may get a little upset at how much shopping she does or how much she spends in all, but she never, never pays too much for anything.

Another project I’ve been working on are family games for the Avon Hill trip.  I’ve got two of them pretty much ready to go.  I won’t write any details here so as to not give anything away early.  I’ve also been working on a photo scavenger hunt for there like the kids do at all family vacations.

Between showers we got a second walk in today.  Dark Sky first told us we had only 22 minutes to walk before the rain was to come but once we started walking the forecast changed so that it wasn’t to rain for 35 more minutes.

Our weather almost always comes from the west or southwest.  We can usually see what Nashville is having today and figure out what we’ll have tomorrow.  But the current storm is coming from a low pressure area settled in the midwest which is rotating winds counter clockwise.  So for the past several days our weather has come from the southeast.  This is highly unusual for us.  What Charlotte has now will be our weather later.  Tomorrow morning is supposed to be dry and should be a good time to get our Pergola holes dug.

Trump said today that the coronavirus was “fading away” as he plans to have a huge rally tomorrow in Tulsa.  There will be 20,000 packed into an indoor arena there with masks only suggested, not required.  There may be up to 100,000 supports of his in the area.  Health officials there are seriously worried.  In a message the opposite of Trump’s, the CDC said that there would be 145,000 deaths in America by July 11.  In Texas, hospitalizations are up 108% since Memorial Day.  Trump warned would-be protesters in Tulsa to beware; they would not be treated nicely like they were in New York or Minneapolis.

I do not wish coronavirus on anyone, including Trump supporters.  I do feel sorry for the health care providers in the area who will have to deal with the inevitable uptick in cases as a result of his selfish desire to have people chant his name and show support for his racist, wealth-based policies.  I do feel like those who get the virus from attending this rally are getting what they are asking for.  Some still say it is overblown or a hoax.  They’ll find out…

In Virginia, while we do not have the growth of COVID-19 cases the way many southern states do, we still have a caseload that grows day after day, as my statistics have shown.  Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 8,735,990              461,522

US                       2,294,246              121,379

Virginia                  56,793                  1,602

Augusta County          166                         2

Today is Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery.  There were marches in many cities, all peaceful.

We were able to get in a third walk after dinner, upping our total to 7.5 miles for the day.  The temperature was nice for walking, too.

I can’t help but think and think about the Pergola (a project that was not my idea).  Tonight we used my new laser level to see how far out of level the six spots were where it will go.  It turns out that the upper two post locations are approximately 12″ higher in elevation than the lower two.  I suppose we’ll try to compromise and set the lower two 30″ instead of 36″ in the ground, then cut off 6″ from the posts on the upper end.  That will leave the entrance at 6′ 6″ instead of 7′.  I’m not sure…

 

June 20, 2020

Thirty seven years ago Jim was born.  Like all of our children, we are excessively proud of him.  He is a good father, teacher, coach, fix-it man, worker, and son.  He has taken after his mother in developing a huge set of skills which he puts to good use.  I am looking forward to having him work with me on Lynn’s Pergola project.  He has a very good mind for projects.

 

After a morning three mile walk we ate lunch a little early because Steve McAllister told us he’d be here around noon to bore the holes for the Pergola.  He got here and it took less than an hour to get six 36″ holes into the ground in our back yard.  He is an superbly nice young man, Ann’s age.  He wouldn’t even let us pay him for it because he take our hay for free.  The hole drilling went so easy with his auger attached to his tractor.  This area of Augusta County is very rocky but, thankfully, he didn’t hit any.  Again, he was in and out of here in no time.

 

I discovered that I could order the remaining hardware and other things we needed from Lowe’s online.  I placed the order and waited for Lowe’s to e-mail me that the order was pulled and ready to be picked up.  Now that’s the way to shop at Lowe’s!  Plus, because I signed up for online ordering, I got $5 off on my order.

 

Waiting to hear from Lowe’s, I got energetic and dug out the second of our old clothesline poles.  These were very heavy, made of iron pipes set in a concrete cylinder with a base approximately 18″ deep and about 12″ in diameter.  Basically for each of them I dug around each until I could push the pole down to the ground then rolled the heavy base out of the hole.  Lynn helped me roll out the one I did today.

 

The Lowe’s e-mail came right before we ate dinner.  So we ate then took the truck to Lowe’s where two employees loaded our order onto the truck.  Basically, if all goes well, Jim and I will get this project done without either one of us going into any store.  Cool.

 

After we unloaded our order at the house, we took our second walk of the day.  The app that we use to predict the weather, Dark Sky, said it wouldn’t rain but it was thundering when we left home.  When we got to the one mile mark the skies looked dark so we headed back home.  As we did, Dark Sky updated its forecast to say it would rain in twenty minutes.  We walked fast and got home just in time.  Our total for the day wasn’t much, 5.5 miles, but that’s OK.

 

Soon after we got home I got a great surprise.  Gus showed up at our back door carrying a HUGE salted caramel chocolate chunk ice cream cake from Smiley’s.  It was from the Gutshall’s for Father’s Day.  What a great, great gift!  After we each had a piece, Lynn cut the rest into individual pieces which we froze for the future.  Yum!

 

Much of the news tonight is about Trump’s Tulsa Rally.  Six workers who helped set up the rally have now been tested positive for COVID-19.  Who knows how many of the 20,000 idiots who pile in there will exit with the virus in their respiratory system?

 

Oklahoma is one of the many states with coronavirus cases increasing, not decreasing.   In general, states from Virginia north are doing OK with containment while southern states are becoming the hotbeds.

 

Here are today’s figures:

Infected                   Died

World                 8,905,939              466,250

US                       2,329,817              121,979

Virginia                  57,433                  1,607

Augusta County          167                         2

 

June 21, 2020

 Father’s Day began great for me.  Lynn not only gave me two very sweet cards but also two Volkswagen Bus toys that she had repainted herself to match the one we had when we were first married.  That bus carried us on our honeymoon and newborns Ann and Kay back and forth between Staunton and Morgantown.

 

Trump’s Tulsa rally was a real bust.  He claimed there were millions who requested tickets.  In reality, the 19,000 capacity arena had only 6,200 of his maskless followers according to news reports.  He blamed the poor attendance on coronavirus and admitted that he had told his people to test fewer people so there would be fewer positive results.  How stupid!

 

Trump also lied and said that protesters kept people from getting into the arena.  The reality was that every single person who tried to get in got in.  One reporter said that there were at most 175 people there protesting against racial injustice and all of them were peaceful.  So if there were a million who registered for his big ego event, there were 993,800 no-shows.

 

My confidence in people to do the right thing was somewhat buoyed.  Even Republicans saw that no one had any business in a venue like that in Tulsa.  Social distancing isn’t just for Democrats.   Too bad our President is such a poor example.

 

I also had a nice Facetime chat with Jim, Faron, and Coen this morning for Father’s Day.  They were playing outside.  The little boys were very talkative and cute.

 

Lynn and I had a very pleasant morning walk in our neighborhood.  We walked one mile, returned home for a bathroom break, then walked two more.  The weather was very favorable.

When we walk we inevitably think of things to do back at home.  The issue is remembering them when we return!  I’ve found that I need to do these things first thing when we walk in the door.

 

After lunch, we drove to Front Royal to meet Kay and her family.  They were late getting there but that was OK.  We met at an ice cream store, Spelunker’s, where Kay got milkshakes for Lynn and me while we went to Eastham Park.  The park had a nice greenway for walking on, with a shady canopy, and we walked and drank our milkshakes.  It was a good visit with the Foy family.  They gave me some homemade oreo cookies they had made plus a nice Life is Good tee shirt with a picture of a bicycle on it and the words “Mobile Device.”

Walking with them on this greenway plus our morning walk made the daily total 5.5 miles.

On the way home we called Ann to see if her family could meet us at our house around 7:00, which they did.  The weather started taking a turn for the worse but Betsy and Freddie still got some good bicycle riding in on the tennis court before the downpour erupted.  Our visit with them was short but sweet.

 

I feel so blessed this Father’s Day.  I have a superb family including world’s best wife and three successful children who themselves have excellent families.  I have eight talented grandchildren that I love being around.  I got to talk to every one of them today.  God has been so good to me, indeed, and I am very thankful.  One of the reasons that today was such a good Father’s Day is that I spent nearly every single minute of it with Lynn.  You know she’s special when, in effect, we’ve been locked up together for over three months and I still love spending time with her.

 

Tonight I stayed up to watch the interview with John Bolton who wrote the tell-all book about Donald Trump entitled The Room Where It Happened.  I’ve already got a very low opinion of Donald Trump; this interview well justified my opinions.

 

Today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 9,038,807              469,604

US                       2,356,655              122,247

Virginia                  57,994                  1,611

Augusta County          169                         2

 

June 22, 2020

This morning featured a busy schedule.  It was counting day at Central UMC so I met Sam Richardson there at 9:00 to make the weekly deposit.  I had to hustle because the delivery truck from Martin’s Native Lumber was due at our house at 10:00.  Given the afternoon thunderstorm forecast I needed to get the wood and concrete into our garage this morning.

 

Thank goodness we had the materials delivered.  My little truck could not have handled six 6″ x 6″ x 10′ posts, six 6″ x 6″ x 8′ beams, six 2″ x 6″ x 8′ supports, twelve 2″ x 2″ x 8′ supports, and eighteen 80 pound bags of concrete.  I was plenty tired when these items were all safely in the garage.

 

Because of my meeting and the delivery, we didn’t get a chance to walk until after lunch.  By then it was hot and humid, too.  We walked twice during the day, once after lunch and once after dinner.  Our after dinner walk was a little longer than usual; our total for the day was 6.5 miles.

 

Jim is coming on Thursday to work on the Pergola.  I hope to do a little more preliminary work before he comes.  Our first task will be to set the six posts in concrete.  While they are curing we’ll take on other tasks I need his help with.  I am so thankful for having Jim!

 

Part of our walk tonight was connected to getting the oil changed in my Honda Civic.  Simmons Auto will change it tomorrow; we drove there tonight then walked back home including a detour to part of the Leaport loop.  The highway department is replacing a bridge on part of that loop so we walked to see their progress.  It involved an easy 0.9 mile walk down but a much harder one back since the last part is a very steep incline to Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church.

 

The afternoon was full of errands.  Lynn’s mother had taken a nasty fall this morning so she wanted to stop by The Legacy and walk with her.  Her Mom was a little confused at time, she said.  All of us are still pulling for her to make her 101st birthday on July 30.  She also wanted to buy some shirts for tie dying at Avon Hill.  Between the Michael’s store in Waynesboro and Harrisonburg we were able to get almost all of them (and, of course, at a great price thanks to Lynn).  Plus there was one missing lag bolt from my original hardware order from Lowe’s in Staunton that I was able to find at the Waynesboro Lowe’s.  Again, I ordered online so we didn’t have to leave the vehicle.

 

I keep waiting on the breakthrough news about COVID-19, the news which will have us start thinking about ending this isolation.  Sadly, there is no such news yet.  Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 9,179,919              473,461

US                       2,388,050              122,609

Virginia                  58,465                  1,620

Augusta County          171                         2

 

June 23, 2020

Our news today wasn’t good.  My brother Butch messaged to say that his wife Ann had what appeared to be a stroke.  She was taken first to the local hospital in Athens, OH, then moved 100 miles north to Columbus OH.  We messaged and talked with him several times today.  She was fine this morning.  They had breakfast together this morning.   He said that she was doing much better than she had been so he wasn’t alarmed when she said she had a headache and wanted to lie down for a while.  When he checked on her a little later she was unresponsive and apparently has been that way all day today.  This is so sad for her, Butch, and son Wiley.  As of tonight she is in ICU in Columbus recovering from a procedure that was done today there.  He is allowed to visit her there.

 

We’ve debated driving there but he convinced us not to.  As he said, only one person is allowed into the hospital and he will likely be there all the time he can so we wouldn’t even get to see him.  So we’re going to wait and see what happens.  It does not sound good.

 

Tonight’s news describes a “disturbing surge” of infections especially in the south.  Many idiots still continue to defy wearing masks in states like Arizona where hospitals are overflowing.  And where is our President going to another of his rallies tonight–Arizona.  Dr. Fauci strongly advised against people crowded in arenas like Trump’s rallies.

 

There was once a hope that the summer months might bring a slow down in coronavirus.  This has absolutely not happened.  Even Novak Djokovic has tested positive.  He recently organized a tennis tournament where several people caught the virus.

 

Today was a humid day.  We managed to get in four different walks.  We began by walking up to Simmons Auto repair to get my Civic which had its oil changed this morning.  Then, mid-afternoon, we walked our marked-off two mile hike on Leaport Road.  Tonight we tried walking around the middle school track but the rain came.  At that point I thought the 4.7 miles we had done for the day was it.  By 8:00 the storm had left the area and Lynn suggested one more walk so we did.   We walked our two mile route one more time which gave us a grand total of 6.7 miles.  As I like to say, not bad for two old people.

 

I did get some work done on the Pergola.  The auger that dug the holes left a pile of dirt surrounding each hole so today I cleaned all of them off.  Plus, I used the post hole digger to make sure each hole measured 36″ deep.  This was hard work for me.  I may be in fairly good shape but I have little upper body strength.  Digging with the post hole digger requires that kind of strength especially as you lift the implement out of the hole loaded with dirt.  In my case, the dirt was more frequently mud.

 

Today was also meeting day at Central United Methodist Church.  I led a Zoom Finance Committee meeting today from 1:00 – 1:45 then served as secretary for the Administrative Council Zoom meeting from 2:00 – 3:45.  At the Council meeting we decided to not have any worship services in July.

 

Governor Northram announced today that Virginia would enter into Phase 3 on July 1.  I don’t look forward to our COVID-19 rates after that.  Lately we’ve been holding steady in new cases which is a lot better than much of the country has, especially places like Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, California, Georgia, and Arizona.  Here are the numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 9,341,598              478,901

US                       2,423,347              123,484

Virginia                  58,994                  1,645

Augusta County          171                         2

Wow, Virginia had 25 new deaths in one day.  The daily average has been around 7.  At least there were no new cases in Augusta County.

 

June 24, 2020

The weather today was the best we’ve had in a while:  sunny with low humidity and the highs in the low 80’s.  As a result, I made it a work outside day.  I tied up my twenty tomato plants, weed-whacked a good bit, cut all of the grass, went to the dump, and sprayed weed killer in lots of needed places.  That one sentence represents several hours of work.

 

It was a good day for walking, too.  We walked our 2.7 neighborhood route twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  The afternoon walk was during the heat of the day but the low humidity and a gentle breeze made it very comfortable.  By dinner time we had walked over six miles.  After dinner we went to the middle school and upped our total for the day to 7.5 miles.  Not bad for two old people, huh?

 

The news from Butch about Ann was somewhat encouraging.  She responded to some yes/no questions today by nodding and was able to move her toes when requested.  Butch talked to a couple of attending physicians who seemed optimistic.  One told him “we’re not out of the woods yet but we’re on the edge.”  That was very good to hear.

 

Lynn and I have enjoyed some afternoon food treats a couple of times this week.  She and I both have received from Ann & family ice cream cakes from Smiley’s.  Hers is Death by Chocolate and mine is Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk.  We have been eating one piece as a mid-afternoon snack.  Delicious!

 

We’re in a routine where we fix (rather, she fixes) enough food for two nights.  We eat half each night.  Last night and tonight, for example, we had country ham and homemade biscuits, lima beans, and salad.  We’ve gotten quite hooked on Brianna Poppyseed Salad Dressing.

 

Lynn’s mother is getting weaker.  She is hoping to make her 101st birthday on July 30 but it is questionable now.  Her hospice nurse said she is not actively in the dying process but Mrs. Hanger wants to sleep all the time now and have someone feed her.  Her mind has always been so good–what a blessing to Lynn and her family.  We can all hope to live that long and maintain our senses that long.

 

Lynn has been working more on her ideas for Avon Hill.  I can’t divulge her plans nor the games I’ve worked on.  I just hope we are able to carry through with this vacation.  We’ve already paid for it in full.  The owner/manager, Sarah, did say she would be understanding in case of a death in the family.

 

The COVID-19 news is same old, same old.  Texas, Florida, and California cases are increasing exponentially.  In Florida, most of the new cases are in the under 35 age group.  Who can be surprised?

 

Here are the daily numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               9,515,5424              438,884

US                       2,462,141              124,253

Virginia                  59,514                  1,661

Augusta County          174                         2

 

According to the Virginia Department of Health website, Augusta County now has 8 hospitalized cases, more than I recall seeing before.

 

This is Wednesday so the evening concluded with our weekly family Zoom meeting.  Betsy was particularly interested in Zooming tonight so she could show the rest of the family their two new kittens.  Jim was too busy to join in but Betsy and Georgia were on full time.  We love seeing them!

 

June 25, 2020

Jim called at 8:00 to say he was almost at our house so from that time until when I’m writing this late at night I have been working or traveling with him.  Zero walking for me today!

 

Jim had his car worked on at Simmons today so as soon as he dropped off his tools we headed there then I brought him back home to begin working on the Pergola.  We were successful in setting six 6″ x 6″ x 10′ posts in concrete though it took most of the day.  We had good assistance from Henry and Gus.  We also had good help from our neighbor Curtis Sheffer.  There were twenty bags of concrete to be mixed.  No sooner had Jim mixed his second bag, very labor intensive, he said he thought Curtis had a cement mixer.  A quick call to him and soon he showed up in our driveway with it loaded in his car.  It made Jim’s concrete mixing work much easier.

 

The concrete takes at least four hours to set so our goal was to get the six posts mounted today, let them set overnight, then work tomorrow on the vertical crossbeams which connect the posts.  We did run into a problem–we discovered that although the posts are eight feet apart, in order for the beams to sit firmly on top they need to be a little over eight feet in length.  The ones we had delivered were only eight feet long.  So we called the lumber place which delivered them and asked if we could exchange six 6″ x 6″ x 8′ beams for 6″ x 6″ x 10′ beams.  They are going to swap these first thing tomorrow.  We’ll then have to cut the 10′ lengths down to the appropriate length for the beams.  This lumber is very, very heavy so it won’t be easy to get this done tomorrow morning.  Henry and Gus are coming back to help.

 

Besides getting the Pergola’s posts set, Jim also helped replace a door to the storage area below our back porch.  The old one had rotten out and I had bought a replacement one from Lowe’s which was waiting for him this morning.

 

Jim also helped me work on the kids’ playground set.  It had gotten a little out of level.  I had hoped we could just prop up the low side but when we jacked it up we discovered that its eight 4″ x 4″ posts all had rotted on the bottom from having sat on the ground for ten years.  I had bought four concrete post holders which I thought we could use to level it but the ore we looked the more we decided the best bet would be to cut off about 4″ from each post (the rotten part) then set the posts back on top of the concrete post holders.  We needed four more post holders to accomplish this but we were able to pick them up tonight at a Lowe’s.  That’s all planned for tomorrow if we get the Pergola work done.

 

It was exhausting to work although Jim did 95% of the work.  He had plans for the evening, though.  He had discovered on Facebook Marketplace a Briggs and Stratton Gasoline Generator he wanted for his house.  If his house loses electricity in a rainstorm, then the sump pumps can’t empty the water that comes into his basement so he wanted to have a generator to use in that case.  The problem is that the generator he located at a great price was in Barboursville, about a 75 minute drive away.  So we ate dinner (Chicano Boys which Lynn picked up) then headed to get it.

 

It turned out to be a very good deal, I believe.  For $300 he got a generator which was probably worth $600 or more.  We checked it out when we arrived at the guy’s house who was selling it.  It started right up and ran a power saw of Jim’s we had brought with us to use as a check.

 

We didn’t get back home until after 8:30.  Then we ran over to Ann and Josh’s hosue to get an extra step ladder for our work tomorrow.  By the time we got back home and I showered it was well past my usual bedtime but I still wanted to write a little on this.

 

I didn’t see any news today so I don’t know what’s going on in the world, especially the COVID-19 infected world, but at least I can provide today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 9,710,205              491,783

US                       2,504,588              126,780

Virginia                  59,946                  1,675

Augusta County          178                         2

 

For the record, Jim and I did travel together today in my truck.  However, the entire time we had our windows down to guarantee that lots of air flowed through.  I think we were safe.

 

June 26, 2020

Another full working day with no walking.  I couldn’t have walked tonight no matter what–I was exhausted from a full day of working on Lynn’s Pergola.  The good news is that we got it complete–that is, everything except for the swings which are on order.  Well, technically I have six more 8″ lag bolts to put in but there are 18 in there now so it is very sturdy.

 

Jim stayed with us last night and was up early today to work.  Overnight the posts had set so today’s task was to get up the horizontal beams and braces.  It might sound like a simple task but it was far from that.  First of all, it was a hexagon but not a perfect hexagon.  The holes dug by the tractor just couldn’t have been accurate to the nearest inch so the posts were very close to being equidistant from each other and from the center but differed by an inch or so.  This just made the cuts tougher.  What especially made the cuts tougher is that they were made on very, very heavy 6″ x 6″ x 10′ beams.  It took four of us, Jim, Henry, Gus, and me to handle them.  Well, to be honest, the other three did most of the lifting.  Each beam had to be set up on top of the 7′ high posts, measured, broiught back down, cut, put back up and measured on the other side, brought back down and cut again.  This was for six beams.  It took most of the day but it turned out fine.

 

After dinner tonight Jim and I put the finishing touches on it, adding the braces and other supporting screws.  And we cleaned up all the mess and our tools.  I have taken pictures of this project from start to finish and will be posting them on my website, http://joehillfamily.com

 

Jim texted us when he got back home tonight.  I’m sure he was tired, too.  This is what I texted back to him.  In his text he thanked us for our hospitality.  “Thank you so much!  You will be paid soon, we promise.  We are so lucky to have such a talented, smart, strong, hard-working, and loving son.  Mom and I both have said this to each other tonight.  Take care of those good boys and we’ll talk again soon.  Not sure when I’ll be down with your stuff in my truck but it won’t be long.”

 

I had a wonderful uncle Hamp.  He was like Jim–talented, smart, helpful, and loving.  At various times in my life I worked with him and my Dad doing odd jobs.  Whenever something unexpected came along in a project, Hamp always called them “minor details.”  The Pergola project had a lot of “minor details.”  We had to send Lynn or Ann out fo Lowe’s or Harbour Freight a couple of times to buy things we needed but didn’t have such as specialized drill bits.  Then figuring out how to cut a 6″ x 6″ beam at an angle close to, but not always exactly, 30o was something JIm had to deal with.  The 8″ lag screws took exceptional strength to screw in, which I don’t have, but we used the fact that by adding a pipe to the end of a socket wrench we could get a longer lever arm which made the task easier.

 

I’m not going to go so far as to say this was fun.  It was not because it was something I had fretted about for weeks.  It was an expensive project.  It was a project that required lots of strength, something I don’t have.  But the comradery of working with Jim, Henry, and Gus did make it fun.  I am fairly thankful now that we have a Pergola, sans swings, in our backyard.  I am extremeliy thankful that I have such a wonderful family.

 

I have no idea what went on in the world today.  I didn’t watch any television or spend time on Facebook.  I will post the daily COVID-19 statistics since I’ve done this every day:

Infected                   Died

World                 9,903,774              496,796

US                       2,552,956              127,640

Virginia                  60,570                  1,700

Augusta County          179                         2

 

I’m too tired to write any more tonight!

 

June 27, 2020

After two days of exhausting work I awoke feeling surprisingly good.  Plus, last evening while finishing our work on the Pergola I lost my balance and fell backwards off of a step ladder.  Amazingly, the fall did no damage and I had no trouble sleeping last night and no soreness as a result.  I was truly lucky.

 

At a news conference yesterday, Vice President Pence boasted that “we flattened the curve” — though the curve for the number of new confirmed cases has headed sharply upward again in June after a decline and then plateau in April and May.  CNN news said it simply, “he lied.”  ABC news said “Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee and Utah all reported record daily cases, according to their state’s health departments. And for Florida, which has been eyed as the possible next epicenter, that number reached 8,938 new cases in just one day.  And it is not just those states seeing rising numbers. The national number of daily coronavirus case reports reached a new high Friday as well at almost 40,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and 33 states are currently seeing the number of new cases grow from the week before.”

 

Pence also said all 50 states were “opening up safely and responsibly” — even though about 30 states were experiencing increases in the rate of new cases, and though states reopened without having met the administration’s recommended safety milestones.  And Pence claimed that “to one extent or another, the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country” — yet many states are seeing rising percentages of positive tests, which are indicative of genuinely rising levels of infection in the community.

 

So our own administration lies to its people.  Neither Pence nor Trump will wear masks in public.  Their interest is on public opinion, not public health.  How can any part of the public think they are leading us in the right direction?  Thank goodness for doctors like Anthony Fauci and Ralph Northram who have a more honest and sensible view of what needs to be done.

 

I may be getting doubts about Northram, though, if he pushes for schools to re-open.  Supposedly Augusta County has announced that they will have students attend two days per week in the fall.  We’re not sure how that will work out with our grandchildren.

 

I got up early today and did two tasks leftover from Jim’s work.  First I found and installed a door knob on the door to the storage room below our patio.  He had replaced the door but the old door knob was too rusted to re-use.  I used the one I had removed from our back door when I installed the digital entry model.

 

Then I installed the last six 8″ lab screws into the Pergola.  Now the only thing that remains is to install the swings when they arrive–probably in August.  Well, Lynn will want some of the concrete covered with dirt and grass reseeded. but there’s not much of that to do.

 

I did some other cleanup around the garage and even fixed an old wagon that Ann and Josh had put in the trash.  It just required a new bolt for the handle.

 

Today is the last Saturday in June.  For the last umpteen years, this has been the date of the Hill Family Reunion in Bramwell.  Like just about everything else, it was canceled due to COVID-19.  I certainly hope this tradition will resume next summer.  My family doesn’t all have the same lifestyle, political views, and tastes as we do but I still think it is important to stay close.  You can quit your job, move to a new location, get a divorce, or change your looks but you can’t change who you’re kin to.  In my case that’s not all bad!

 

Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia came today.  They wanted to see Lynn’s Mom.  As I’ve said, her health is gradually deteriorating as you would expect from a person over 100 years old.  Yesterday those visiting with her gave a good report of her health and spirits, though, so maybe she’ll still be going strong come July 30 when she turns 101.

 

The Foys were very cautious at our house.  They only entered through the front door to go straight upstairs to the bathroom which Lynn had sanitized.  After their visit with Grandmother they grabbed some lunch and met back at our house with Ann’s family to eat and let the kids have a water gun battle.

 

It was a great visit in every way.  First, Mrs. Hanger was doing very well so Kay’s family had a nice visit with her.  Then, we all sat in the shade under our huge maple tree, ate, and talked and talked.  The youngest four grandchildren played hard with water guns and the water in the baby pool I had set up for them.  The rest of us sat in the shade and talked at a socially acceptable distance.  We had wonderful conversation.  The temperature was warm but there was a constant breeze with low humidity so the shady environment was perfect.

 

After the kids left, two and a half hours after arriving, I made a quick run to Kroger to pick up an order we had placed for curbside pickup.  Then I came back, Lynn and I ate, then we got one walk in for the day.  It was a long one–the Leaport Loop.  The temperature was 84o when we left home but there was a good bit of shade this time of the evening.  My phone said I had gone 5.8 miles today.  I’ll take it–I am still tired from the past two days’ work.

Wow, look at these numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               10,073,017              500,606

US                       2,595,569              128,150

Virginia                  61,247                  1,724

Augusta County          179                         2

The world’s numbers are at significant milestones.  Lynn reposted a Facebook page today that showed the following amazing statistics:

  • New COVID-19 cases in Italy: 190
  • New COVID-19 cases in France:  81
  • New COVID-19 cases in Spain:  330
  • New COVID-19 cases in the United States:  33,399

 

June 28, 2020

We spent half of the day today in the truck.  We left home around 11:00, just after Henry and Gus had come over and helped load Jim’s generator and table in the back of the truck.  First we stopped in Staunton so Lynn could help her Mom with her lunch at The Legacy.  Then we drove to Roanoke.

 

We weren’t at Jim’s house long, just long enough to drop off the generator, table, and his table saw which he had already put in the truck’s back seat.  On our way back we took a short detour to Brewster’s Ice Cream in Roanoke for a snack.  And on the way back we took another detour to Lexington where there is a Wells Fargo Bank.  We needed to get some cash for Henry and Gus to compensate them for their two days of work with Jim and me.

 

We made a final stop on the way home at Aldi’s in Staunton where Lynn bought several fruit items which we put into a box and took to Curtis Sheffer as soon as we got home.  He had been very kind to have loaned us his concrete mixer on Thursday.

 

CNN reports that just two states are showing a decline in COVID-19 infections.  I believe those are Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Virginia is listed as holding steady.  Thirty six states were listed as having an increasing number of infections.

 

So today the Vice President did wear a mask.  He wore it at a church in Dallas which had a choir of 100 singing for him, maskless.  Singing is supposed to be one of the worst activities there is for spreading coronavirus.  He is so stupid!

 

Tonight was our biweekly Covenant Group meeting.  We met in the backyard of  Connie and Tom Davis’ house in Staunton.   We had a mini-celebration as the last of our group to retire, Ginny Bauman, is doing so this Tuesday.  As always, we had a good time chatting for two hours outdoors.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               10,242,930              504,366

US                       2,637,077              128,437

Virginia                  61,736                  1,732

Augusta County          183                         2

 

Lately I’ve noticed something which puzzles me about these statistics.  In the world and United States, the mortality rate is very close to 5%.  That is, the number of people who have died is right at 5% of the number infected.  However, the mortality rate for Virginia is less than 3% and the rate for Augusta County is around 1%.  I don’t have a good explanation for this data.

 

June 29, 2020

It was a typical summer day–hot and sunny.   It was also my day for two volunteer jobs at Central UMC:  counting and picking up the Food Bank order.  Counting was extremely easy because there were only three checks to deposit!  I was back home in time to walk with Lynn before it got too hot.  We managed to get three miles under our belt though it was very sunny.

 

As always, we ended up chatting with various folks while we walked.  First we ran into the retiring minister at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church along with the man who will take his place.  Actually the new minister, Ed Pruitt, is a retired minister himself.  We also talked to Curtis Sheffer for a moment and to Bee and Janet Myers.

 

The pickup was also easy for Food Bank.  Unlike other orders I’ve helped with over the past few months, this order was fairly small, 581 pounds, so I was able to get it all with my truck.

 

I had some fun this afternoon digging into some things I hadn’t touched in nearly 30 years–fishing equipment.  When we go to Avon Hill in just two weeks, fishing in the Rockfish river is an option.  I think the Gutshalls have picked up a couple of fishing rods in preparation for this activity.  I pulled out several rods and reels and fooled with them until I had two working fairly well.  I’m not sure who will use them but at least they are available.  When I was a kid, probably 10 – 13 years old, I used to fish a lot in a dam not too far from my grandparents.  It was called Falls Mills Dam.  Originally my mother would take me.  Once or twice my uncle Jim probably did.  And several times my friend Tommy Bowen would go with me there.  I couldn’t even touch the fish I caught so I always took rubber gloves with me.

 

After dinner, even though the temperature was 84o, we walked nearly three more miles.  The sun was behind clouds most of the time and the humidity wasn’t bad.  Nonetheless, the cold glass of water that awaited me hit the spot.  Lynn’s FitBit said we walked 7.2 miles today.  Not bad for two old people!

The news tonight has more and more stories of record coronavirus infections.  Some states actually started curbing their re-opening.  Finally some places are shutting down bars.  In many of the states the average age of those infected is under 35.  Hospitals are filling up in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.  Even in West Virginia there is a story that over 200 patrons at a gym were possibly infected.  Today, 28,000 more Americans have COVID-19 than yesterday.

 

The bad news just keeps coming and coming.  Granted, we’re watching this on television as opposed to experiencing it first hand.  But still it is sad to see so many people suffer and die and so many health workers being exhausted and frazzled.  It is so sad that when COVID-19 ICU patients die, they do so without any family around.

 

Here are today’s figures:

Infected                   Died

World               10,400,386              507,495

US                       2,681,312              128,772

Virginia                  62,189                  1,740

Augusta County          183                         2

 

At least there haven’t been any new cases in Augusta County for two days.  A Facebook post today said “why is it that the United States has 4% of the world’s population but 25% of its COVID-19 infections and deaths?”

 

June 30, 2020

The news today says that one in four Americans would not take a COVID-19 vaccine.  What??  Supposedly there are nineteen possible vaccines being tested.  Dr. Fauci says that any vaccine might be only 70-75% effective.

 

In what I hope becomes the norm, we took an early morning walk today before it got hot.  By 9:00 we had walked three miles in the neighborhood.   The temperature for our walk was in the high 70’s whereas the afternoon temperatures were in the mid 80’s.

 

In somewhat of a return-to-normalcy I had a dentist appointment this morning.  Of course, the office was very safe including quizzing me before I left the car and taking my temperature on the way in.  It was a normal visit and there were no surprises which is always a good thing.  The old expression is that when the dentist says “open wide” he’s talking about your wallet, not your mouth.

 

This afternoon we pressure washed the Pergola in preparation for staining/sealing it.  When it dried, we also sanded it in hopes no one would get a splinter from it.  We ordered the staining sealer from Lowe’s and picked it up when it was ready.

 

Again tonight we ate well.  I had baked potatoes yesterday and tonight I grilled rib eye steak.  Lynn made a salad.  Good eating!

 

The news tonight said the virus is rising in 35 states.  Dr. Fauci said we’re on the course to have 100,000 new cases daily.  The European Union has banned all visitors from the United States.  Even New York has required that people coming into the state from a number of states, including California, Texas, Florida, and a bunch of other southern states, must quarantine when they arrive in New York.

 

In Florida, they have finally started fining people who do not wear a mask.  Some research says that talking alone can release more germs than coughing.

 

Today Joe Biden said “Trump has failed us.”  Trump is planning on attending a large fireworks display at Mount Rushmore where no masks will be worn, including him, of course.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               10,559,170              512,951

US                       2,719,797              130,005

Virginia                  62,787                  1,763

Augusta County          185                         2

 

We waited until later than usual to get our second and final walk of the day in.  At least the temperature had dropped to the low 80’s by the time we got to Stewart Middle School.  Our total for the hot day was 6.5 miles.

April 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

April 20, 2020

This may be a little presumptuous, but I’m writing about how we survived the COVID-19 pandemic when the virus epidemic is still raging throughout the United States.  Indeed, we may not survive it though we have done well for the past two months.  I’m beginning to write this on April 20, 2020 which is approximately six weeks after the coronavirus spread throughout the US.  Today’s statistics are as follows:

Infected                   Died

World                 2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                      8,990                     300

Augusta County             22                         0

 

The virus is here but has not saturated the Shenandoah Valley as it has many parts of the country.  In neighboring Rockingham County and Harrisonburg, there are 100 and 236 cases, respectively, today.  Staunton has only 5 and Waynesboro 7.

 

This data has affected our shopping, to be sure.  We have been to Harrisonburg only once in the past six weeks.  I had a prescription to be refilled at Costco so Lynn and I went last Thursday during the special time they had set aside for senior citizens.  The store was very busy with customers during this 8:00 – 9:00 time.  Lynn was actually able to enter the store at 7:45 and reported that it was well managed.  She felt safe during her time in the store.  As usual, I stayed in the car.

 

Starting to write about the COVID-19 pandemic on April 20 is like starting to report on a baseball game when the game is already in progress.  The issue is that I don’t know what inning we’re in.  Clearly we’re in the early part of the game with lots more to enfold.  We greatly hope that there will be a 9th inning and that it isn’t too far away.  We fear that the game will have no happy ending.

 

Virginia is currently under a “shelter in place” order from Governor Northram.  We are to put masks on anytime we are in a public setting such as a grocery store or pharmacy.  People are expected to stay at least six feet apart to prevent the spread of the virus.

 

To be honest, at this point we as a country are quite ignorant of COVID-19.   We know it began in China in late 2019.  We know it is spread through human contact, especially through respiratory droplets such as in sneezes or even breath. As of this writing we do not have any proven treatment nor vaccine for it.  Thus, we are told to stay at home so the virus won’t be spread.

 

The results have been devastating for the economy.  There are millions of Americans who have lost their jobs.  Local schools were closed in early March for the rest of the school year.  No public gatherings of more than 10 people are allowed. Church services are suspended as are all entertainment events such as ball games, movies, and plays.

 

This all hit us quite suddenly.  From March 9 through March 12 Lynn and I had a wonderful time at The Greenbrier with my sister Mary Katherine and our longtime friends Paul and Sandy Porterfield.  We hustled home on the 12th to watch Henry play in what turned out to be his only soccer game in the 2020 season.  Though he was only a freshman, he started on the varsity and helped Fort Defiance win its only game of the season against Nelson County.  Watching that game, we knew there were worries about the spread of the virus but had no idea that by the following week our lives would be radically changed.

 

Like many businesses, The Greenbrier is now closed.  Shopping now means ordering groceries online at Kroger or Walmart and having the order brought out to our cars.  I have not been in a retail merchandise store in the past six weeks.

 

When the rare event occurs that one of us has to enter a store, Lynn has volunteered.  I’ve just been too hesitant given my age and pulmonary history.  I’m currently 69.   I take a pulmonary steroid, Symbicort, twice daily and another medicine, Singulair, for my asthma.  I’ve taken these drugs for years and have my asthma completely under control but my lungs are certainly not what they should be.  This virus has been exceptionally tough on anyone who has any respiratory issues.

 

Nursing homes have been hit especially hard by coronavirus.  This is worrisome to us because Lynn’s Mom is now 100 years old and lives at The Legacy in Staunton.  So far there have been no issues at The Legacy.  However, no one in Mrs. Hanger’s family have been allowed to visit her in weeks.  They keep in touch via phone and Facetime.  She seems to be doing fine, thankfully.

 

I can’t begin to describe how different the world is today from what it was a month ago.  Restaurants have take-out only service.  Malls are closed.  Banks only have drive-up windows open.  Playgrounds are roped off.  Colleges, schools, churches,  and stadiums are empty.   Most significant to us is the lack of seeing our family.  We’ve had a few moments when we’ve seen some of Ann’s family from our socially acceptable 6+ foot distance but her family has spent no time at our house in the past six weeks.  The kids’ bikes have not been ridden, the tennis and basketball courts unused, and the playground unoccupied.  We’ve had no grandchildren hugs nor shared with them any of the good supply of treats we usually have stored for their visits.

 

This is a very strange virus.  For many the symptoms are minor.  Some don’t even know they’ve had it.  Many thousands have had it then recovered.  But the news is full of stories about nursing homes where 50 or more are affected and many die. There are cases of many middle aged otherwise healthy Americans who end up on a ventilator and some pass away.  Few children or infants have been infected, thankfully.  A disproportionately high number of black Americans have caught the disease.  Just tonight ABC news had a story about how the virus adversely affects the heart as well as the respiratory system.

 

The country has been in quite an uproar, generally because we are saddled with the worst President that the US has ever had in my opinion.  Donald Trump downplayed coronavirus when it was first announced, saying that it was a Democratic party hoax and that it was no worse than the common flu. For the month of February, despite warnings from many epidemiologists, he did nothing except ban flights from China.  By the time the virus had erupted in America, especially in New York City, it was obvious that the USA was woefully unprepared for the number of hospital beds, personal protection equipment, physicians, nurses, and especially with ventilators.  Worst of all, the number of available tests to determine if a person was infected or not were less than 1% of the population.   How could a country as great as America be so unready for this pandemic?  Trump daily appeared on television praising himself for his efforts but anyone could see this was a disaster.

 

As of today, New York City has finally started to have a decline in the number of daily deaths though they still are over 700 each day.  Now there’s pressure from the right to “get America back to work again” by easing the mandated restrictions that Governors have made such as those which ban gatherings of more than 10 people and closed non-essential businesses.

 

Frankly, I don’t see any way we should be returning to “normal” life until a quick and thorough treatment is found for COVID-19 as well as a vaccine for future infections.  We’re told it could be years before this happens….

 

So what have we been doing for the past six weeks?

 

First, we’ve spent lots of quality time together.  We’ve walked over two hours each day, averaging over six miles per day.  We sometimes walk a 3.7 mile loop which takes us past Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church down Limestone Road towards Middle River then up Leaport Road back to our house.  Much of this road was paved during 2019 which makes it a nice walk except there are some big hills to climb.  The church has “Mount” in its name for a reason!  Sometimes we walk a 2.6 mile hike up to the church and back then out one mile on Leaport Road before we turn around and come back.  We’ve also walked at many other places including downtown Staunton, Natural Chimneys Park, Stewart Middle School, and a 3.5 mile loop to the church then to Cider Mill Road, Morningside Drive, then back home.  We’ve walked back and forth from our house to Willow Spout on US 11.

 

Today, for example, we walked then 2.6 mile walk mid-morning then the 3.7 loop before dinner.  After dinner we went to Stewart Middle and walked another mile.  One of the things I’ve read about COVID-19 is that it feasts on those who are feeble and weak.  I’m determined to be fit so that if I do contract the virus I’ll be able to fend it off.

 

Lynn is an amazing walker.  Her legs don’t get tired and she doesn’t ever breathe hard.  She is blessed with what I call “Hanger legs.”  I occasionally complain about how my legs ache or get winded on steep climbs but she just walks and walks. I know she’d be happier walking with me if I chatted with her the entire time but even when we just walk quietly beside each other life is good for me.

 

I’m very happy to report that Lynn and I have gotten along exceedingly well despite being with each other nearly 24/7.  We’ve had some great meals and even discovered that our favorite ice cream store, Smiley’s in Mount Crawford, has stayed open with take-out only service.  Our freezer this evening has several quarts of Death by Chocolate, Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk, and Black Cherry that was the flavor of the week this week.

 

Besides walking, we spend a lot of time watching television, especially the news.  I confess that it is very repetitive and negative at the current time; perhaps as I keep up this log the news will improve.  I hope so.

 

Lynn and I each get a lot of screen time each day.  I don’t know what we’d do without our iPads and MacBook.  Over and over again I hit the refresh button on my MacBook when reading Facebook hoping there will be some new posts.  As of today I have played 17,820 consecutive games of Whirly Word and played 8,311 games of Solitaire on my iPad.  Of course many of these games were played pre-COVID-19 but many, many have been played since March 13.

 

At first I did lots of yard work.  I cut various shrubs and bushes with my chainsaw and made several trips to the Augusta County landfill.  Before one of my trips to the landfill I had the misfortune of having the battery in my truck die.  I charged it with a charger until I could start it again, drove to AutoZone in Staunton, and had a new battery installed without leaving the driver’s seat.  One day I made a trip to Roanoke to help Jim move a chicken house he had built to another person’s house with my trailer though I stayed in the truck the entire time while he did all the work.

 

In the meantime, Lynn has worked hours and hours each day making facial masks.  Since masks have been unavailable for purchase for weeks thanks to the countrywide shortage, the government requested that those who could sew create cloth masks for the public to wear.  These masks aren’t intended to protect the wearer as much as keep the person who wears the mask from sneezing or breathing and spraying coronavirus germs to others.  Lynn’s efforts here have been herculean.  So far she has made close to 300 masks.  She gave over 50 to the Augusta County EMS staff and 60 to Augusta Health Foundation.  Just today we took 40 to a group in Harrisonburg who had requested them for the poor/homeless there.  She has made them for many friends and family members.  She ran out of elastic but found an online site which sells mask kits.  She is nearly finished with her first order of 100 and has another 100 coming in the next few days.

 

I confess that I haven’t done nearly as much for others.  I have spent lots of time doing various jobs for Central United Methodist Church.  I have set up an online giving service for members and applied for a government grant to help out with our finances.  I have helped Pastor Won Un post his sermons and music director Yi-Ping Chen post her music to our website since we can no longer have church gatherings.  Today I made the church’s bank deposit and later picked up a truck load of food from the Blue Ridge Food Bank for our food pantry.  But when I got to Central with the food I didn’t go inside as I always did in the past.  I helped load the food onto carts but let others take it in.

 

So I’ve done a little but my efforts pale in comparison to Lynn’s.

 

Knock on wood, we’ve both been very healthy for the past six weeks.  The walking has helped, for sure, and so has the sleeping.  We go to bed around 9:00 PM and sometimes don’t get up until near 7:00 AM.  Not all of that time is spent in slumber, though.  We’ve watched lots of television including episodes of The Big Bang Theory, Schitt’s Creek, and game shows such as America Says which Lynn has recorded on the DVD.

 

The “shelter in place” situation has been depressing to me.  I wonder if it will be years before we can once again watch our grandchildren’s ball games, attend church, go to the Barter Theatre, and travel.  We’ve already postponed two long trips we had planned for this summer:  a trip to Puerto Rico with Ann and her family and a trip Lynn and I had already booked to Argentina, Brazil, and Iguazu Falls in South America.  Maybe in 2021 we can take these trips.

 

We’ve been able to keep up with Kay and family in Arlington and Jim and family in Roanoke thanks to FaceTime and a new app called Zoom which allows multiple simultaneous video connections.  We’ve had two “zoom” sessions involving all four families thus far.  Lynn has given three mini-Spanish lessons to Thomas and Georgia via FaceTime and recorded reading a story in both English and Spanish for her former elementary school, Cub Run Elementary.  But seeing your relatives on a computer screen just isn’t as nice as seeing them in person.  Our children realize the risk to their older parents and have not tried to bypass the social distancing requirements the government has mandated.  I greatly look forward to see them play in our back yard and get a firm hug from us.

 

Boredom has been an issue.  Nearly every day is the same.  Sleep late, eat breakfast, walk, eat lunch, walk, play games on iPad, check in with Lynn upstairs sewing, eat dinner, watch tv/news, shower, go to bed.  What day of the week is this?  I’ve cleaned out cabinet after cabinet looking for something to do.  Not fun!

 

There’s a void of spontaneity nowadays.  Prior to March, we could decide on a whim to go to the Depot in Staunton for dinner, stop at Dairy Queen for a treat, or stop in to visit with Lynn’s Mom.   We had a heavy spring schedule of grandchildren events to attend from soccer games to a Frozen Jr. performance by Betsy.  I was playing tennis three times per week with my tennis buddies. Lynn tutored a student in Waynesboro twice weekly and did various consulting work with the ELL teachers in Rockingham County Public Schools.  We did lots of things at Central UMC.  Lynn would shop for the best of bargains at Kroger, Aldi’s, Kohl’s, TJ Maxx, Target, or Michaels.  None of these things have happened in the past six weeks.  None.

 

Life as we knew it stopped.  Lynn and I agree that this epidemic is the most negative thing that has happened in our lifetime.  I guess that’s why I’m writing this, believing that perhaps someone in the future will want to know what it was like just as I used to ask my Dad what the Great Depression years were like.

 

What I’ve written thus far sets the stage of where we are as of Monday, April 20.  My plans for continuing this are to add daily records of what we experience, how the US is doing in its battle against COVID-19, and our overall efforts to return to life as we once knew it….

 

April 21, 2020

I got an e-mail this morning from Walmart stating that they are limiting customers to five customers per 1,000 square feet of store space.  ABC News had a story about grocery store employees claiming they should get hazard pay instead of the minimum wage salary they currently earn.  There have been many posts on Facebook saying that these workers along with EMS and ER workers are the true American heroes of this era.

 

There have also been lots of quips about how true hair color is emerging nationwide now that hair salons are closed.  Governor Northam made a comment recently about how anxious he was to be able to re-open barber shops.  The Today Show this morning had a story about how to color the roots of your hair.

 

It has been very interesting to notice which jobs have not been lost.  Around here, farmers go about their business tending to their cattle and fields like always.  I understand that they have been issues with their inability to process beef, though.  Car mechanics like our friends Tom and Bryan Simmons are open as usual.  Gas stations not only are open but feature extremely low prices on gas–under $1.70 per gallon.  However, when we fill up for gas we use gloves so as to not get germs from the pump.  We still get our daily newspapers.  Of course, the sports sections are virtually bare.

 

In our immediate family, no family member has lost his/her job.  Teachers are expected to provide some kind of online instruction so Ann and Jim have both done some of that.  Jim has done lots of other work such as yard work in his neighborhood. Josh still goes into work daily since there are only two people in his office.  Kay and Andy work from home but have the additional burden of providing home schooling for Thomas and Georgia.  This has been exhausting for them.

 

For millions of Americans COVID-19 has meant a loss of income and economic disaster.  Congress passed a relief bill which provided $1,200 to each person who earns less than $75,000 annually plus $500 for each dependent under age 16.  Lynn and I got our relief funds but, to be honest, didn’t really need the money.  We ended up giving each of our three children money this month since all three have more monetary needs than we do.  Lynn and I have actually spent less during the past two months since we spend nothing on entertainment.   Plus, we haven’t traveled anywhere.

 

I am not able to travel far from home.  For years I have had an issue with an enlarged prostate which just means I have to go to the bathroom more often than I did when I was younger.  This condition is quite common with men my age.  Prior to February, as we traveled I would simply go to the bathroom at a rest stop, grocery store, or department store.  But now that I don’t go inside any of those, it means that I don’t stray far from home.

 

This morning I am dealing with an issue with my truck.  This is a long story.  We used to always have our vehicles get their annual inspection at Tom and Bryan Simmons’ shop but now they no longer are allowed to do car inspections.  So for the past two years we’ve had to find other places to get the annual sticker.  It turns out that McDonough Toyota, from which we purchased both Lynn’s RAV4 and my Tacoma, will do inspections for free for those vehicles purchased from their dealership.  So last Friday I took my Tacoma there.  Big mistake.

 

Lynn picked me up and we ran some errands while the truck was inspected.  Then we received a call from the franchise saying that the truck needed new windshield wipers.  Of course, I said to go ahead and replace them.  Big mistake–they charged us $58 for two wiper blades. But then the service director asked if we wanted them to determine why the TRAC light and Check Engine light were on.  What?  I asked.  They were not on when I dropped the truck off.  I am absolutely positive of that.  She said that the truck could pass inspection without having to remedy this so that was my choice.  When I picked up the truck I repeated that the lights were not on when the truck was dropped off.  I asked how what might be the cost to take care of this.  I was told perhaps $350 for the TRAC sensor.  Grrr!

 

I called Simmons and was told to bring the truck by on Monday so they could check it out.  I certainly trusted them much, much more than the dealer.

 

Driving home, I recalled that Jim had the same issue once when he took my truck with trailer to Chicago to pick up a lawnmower from his in-laws.  I remembered that he had found the solution online so when I got home I searched and found a fix:  disconnect the battery terminals for two minutes then the warning lights do not come back on.

 

Sure enough, it worked.  I felt really good about resolving this (and really angry at McDonough Toyota for somehow causing the issue).  On Monday morning I called Simmons and told them I wouldn’t be coming by after all.

 

But then I picked up the food from the Food Bank and the lights came back on.  Ugh!!  Rather than disconnect the battery terminals again, I called Simmons back and was told to bring the truck up there this morning.  We took it there and they hooked up a diagnostic tool which indicated that a sensor needs to be replaced so now that’s scheduled for this Thursday.  At least I have something to do on Thursday now…

 

Unlike today or Wednesday, Thursday’s calendar already has one item on it.  Lynn has started a Walmart grocery online order which is scheduled to be picked up Thursday at 9:00 AM.  Thanks to Kroger and Walmart’s pick up service we’ve been able to keep our cabinets, refrigerators, and freezer well stocked.  On two occasions Lynn has shopped inside at Aldi’s grocery store but was able to do so in a safe environment where masks, social distancing, and constant cleaning of shopping carts were in place.

 

When the frenzy of COVID-19 first erupted there was a mad dash at the stores for essentials such as toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, and disposable gloves.  For a while toilet paper was unavailable anywhere which certainly was cause for alarm.  Lynn and I had just stocked up prior to March so it wasn’t an issue for us.  In our garage this morning there are 120 rolls of TP!  Now it is more readily available though most stores limit customers to one or two packages of it.  The wipes and gloves are still out of stock everywhere we’ve tried.

 

The bareness of our shared calendar is so unlike our life before mid-February.  Despite being retired, we remained quite busy before this pandemic.  Just a glance at January’s calendar compared to April’s is quick proof of how our lives have changed.

 

Prior to lunch today we took our 3.7 mile loop walk.  Like many of the recent days, it was very windy.  We notice this especially as we walk on the open road toward Mount Pisgah Church.  Once we turn downhill from there we enter a valley with much less wind.  The wind has been ferocious this spring, frequently 20 mph or higher.  On the way back today we got an unexpected light rain shower but that didn’t put a damper on what otherwise was a pleasant walk.

 

After lunch (which just consists of a yogurt package for each of us) we returned to our normal–me to my keyboard and Lynn to her sewing machine.

Here are the counts for today:

Infected                   Died

World                 2,530,095              174,726

US                          803,575                43,663

Virginia                    9,630                     324

Augusta County           28                         0

We took our second walk of the day–our usual 2.6 hike–but it was a struggle with 20+ mph winds.  Lynn’s Fitbit says we’ve walked 6.93 miles thus far today.

For dinner we elected to do a take-out of hamburgers from the Old School Burgers food truck in Weyers Cave.  We like their hamburgers and it is one way we can support local businesses.

 

April 22, 2020

The news today includes stories about the controversy of when to drop the restrictions and “get back to normal.”  Some southern states have begun to allow beaches and businesses like hair salons to reopen even though the states have not achieved the CDC-approved guideline of having 14 consecutive days of declining COVID-19 infection.  There have been some back-to-work protests featuring Trump supporters who are willing to sacrifice the most frail in our society just so they can get a haircut or play golf. What they are really protesting is being told what to do by their government even if it is very much in their best interest.  Indeed, it is disturbing how many people are unwilling to wear masks just because they don’t want to be told what to do.

 

When Lynn went to Costco last week I stayed in the car and observed those going in.  Around 70% of those who entered were wearing the masks as our Governor has asked.  The remaining 30% were predominantly white males.  My bet is that many of them had the “Don’t Tread on Me” license plates on their cars.

 

Lynn re-posted an article on Facebook which noted that when states lift their stay-at-home orders then those who do not return to work cannot apply for unemployment benefits.  Thus states save money by removing the mandates while putting the most vulnerable in the population at high risk.  The news media has warned over and over that epidemiologists say that there will be a huge spike in infections again if the guidelines are lifted too soon.  Some people, including politicians, don’t seem to care.

 

Some protesting idiots hold signs saying “Fake Crisis” and “COVID-19 is a lie.”  Some show their stupidity with signs featuring misspellings:   “Reopen Pennslvania/Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death/We the peaple.” One said “The face mask you were duped into wearing symbolizes you loosing your freedom of speech.”  On Facebook I’ve seen replies to people like this such as “We have two epidemics:  COVID-19 and stupidity.”

 

When states were first considering the “shelter in place” mandates, I recall seeing a Facebook post that sticks in my mind.  It showed a person who had to choose between two buttons.  One said “Cheesecake Factory” and the other said “Grandma.”   It is sad that many Americans appear to be willing to push the former button.

 

Instead of being a true leader to help the US through this terrible time, President Trump has 1) initially claimed the COVID-19 was a Democratic hoax  2)  played golf and held political rallies several times during February when he should have been working on a containment strategy  3) fallaciously claimed early on that the US had it “totally under control” saying “we pretty much shut it down” and that it was like the flu and would go away on its own   4) once it quickly spread nationwide claimed that on a scale of 0-10 his response deserved a rating of 10   5) lied that tests for the virus were plentiful and that “anyone who wants a test can get a test”  6) blamed and cut funding to the World Health Organization for the coronavirus spread   7) blamed China for covering up the initial outbreak  8) ignored his own experts who initially prodded him to act more aggressively in containing the spread  9) stated that his power as President of the United States was “total.”   10) encouraged Virginia back-to-work protestors to “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”  11) blamed Governors for their poor handling of the epidemic while trying to take credit for any positives in the fight.   He is such a poor example for Americans that he won’t even wear a mask himself in public.  I read an article this morning that closed with this comment:  “In pandemic as in prosperity, the Trump way is to punish opponents, reward friends; accuse victims, protect culprits; demand credit, refuse accountability; protect preferred classes and groups of Americans—and sacrifice the rest.”

 

If there’s anyone who has earned the respect of Americans during the past six weeks it is Dr. Anthony Fauci.  He is an American physician and immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.  He has been the voice of science and reason.  He was the one who told us to stay at home, stay six feet apart, and wear masks.  He has often contradicted the President in insisting that the quarantines be extended, not reduced.

 

As Lynn and I took our 3.7 mile loop walk this morning she got a very disturbing text.  One of our former co-workers, Mark Metcalfe, had passed away last night.  Mark taught Chemistry at Fort Defiance High School.  One of his sons, Stephen, was Gus’ travel team basketball coach and lives on our loop walk.  A few weeks ago Mark had e-mailed a group of retired teachers, including Lynn, who meet monthly for lunch that he had been ill with symptoms of a virus.  COVID-19?  We don’t know if he ever was tested or if his death was at all related to coronavirus at this point.  More will come out in the next few days.  But his death was stunning to both of us.  He and Nancy live near to us and we saw them fairly often.

 

Mark’s death is the second in two weeks of educators I formerly worked with.  Steve Leaman was the Principal at Broadway and Spotswood High Schools when I worked in Rockingham County.  Like Mark, I thought highly of him.  At age 62 he collapsed while riding a bicycle and died.  These deaths remind Lynn and me of our own mortality, not a pleasant thought.  Both of these men were younger than me.

 

Ann had given Lynn some sour dough starter and her friend Cheryl wanted some, too, so we took a ride to Staunton this afternoon to deliver it.  On the way we saw Mark Metcalfe’s daughter-in-law Beth who told us they were shocked by Mark’s passing.  With the quarantine in place there’s no decent way to hold funerals or visitations.  To try to help their family, on our way back home we picked up a Chick Fil A platter of chicken strips and delivered it to Beth and Stephen.

 

We ate an early dinner this evening then took my truck to Simmons for tomorrow’s appointment.  On the way we dropped off facial masks for Stephen and Beth Metcalfe.  Lynn’s handiwork is so appreciated!

 

We walked back from Simmons, approximately one mile to our house.  But the traffic along Mt. Pisgah road was much worse than usual, probably because it was shortly after 5:00.  So we hopped in my car and drove to Stewart Middle where we did three loops around the walking track there.  That made our total for the day a little over seven miles.

 

Today’s COVID-19 figures:

Infected                   Died

World                 2,629,951              183,723

US                          844,992                47,430

Virginia                  10,266                     349

Augusta County            30                         0

As stated earlier, the statistics within the United States cannot be taken as accurate since testing has been so limited.  One study estimated that the number of actual people infected by COVID-19 could be as high as 50 times the reported number.

 

On the news this evening, it was reported that research on COVID-19 shows that men die more often than women with the disease.  It was already known that blacks have a higher infection rate than whites.  Particularly subject to harm are people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.  The good news of this study is that there were no deaths in the under 20 age group.

 

We ended the day on a pleasant note by having our weekly Zoom session with our children and their families.  It is a little chaotic but well worth it to us.  We love seeing their smiling faces and just wish it were in person.

 

April 23, 2020

The scary news this morning is that neighboring Harrisonburg has the highest per capita incidence of COVID-19 infections in Virginia.  At one Harrisonburg nursing home thirteen people have now died.  Harrisonburg has 318 confirmed cases and Rockingham County has 145.  In Augusta we’re holding at 30 confirmed cases.  Staunton has 10.

 

When I was growing up we all knew the name of Jonas Salk.  He had invented the polio vaccine in the mid 1950’s.  All of us were vaccinated.  I remember lining up at Bramwell High School to get my shot (or was it a sugar cube?  Lynn reminded me of the sugar cubes).   Thanks to Salk, the world was granted relief from this awful scourge.  He was a hero, for sure.

 

Who will be the Jonas Salk of COVID-19?  Surely the brightest minds in immunology are working on a treatment and a vaccine.  As of today, we have neither.  Surely there are billions of dollars being dumped into this research since the company that solves the coronavirus plague will have immeasurable worth.  But so far, no Jonas Salk.

 

Instead of a solution, the news media brings question after question to us.  Can you catch coronavirus twice or does your body develop an immunity if you survive it?  If so, how long does the immunity last?  Can you catch it from gas pump handles or shopping bags that have been delivered to your car?  Do facial masks really do any good?  At first, the CDC said masks had no particular value in preventing the spread but then it reversed itself and declared that everyone should be wearing one in public.  Will the disease run its course on its own?  There is just so, so much that we do not know about COVID-19.  Jonas, where are you?

 

This proved to be a busy Thursday for us despite having little on our calendar.  First I got a text that our mulch order was going to be delivered between 7:30 and 7:45 AM.  On one of our neighborhood walks we chatted with Curtis Sheffer.  He was busy working on a huge load of mulch he had delivered and told us that some people were doing it as a fund raiser for a sick teenager.  We got the phone number from him and placed our own order.

 

The truck was in our driveway shortly before 8:00 and soon we had a large mound of mulch at the end of our driveway.  With a forecast of rain, I wanted it covered; it took three tarps to do so.  It will take me a long while to get it all spread throughout our yard!

 

Shortly thereafter Lynn and I were driving to Staunton for three stops.  First, we went to Aldi so Lynn could get her avocados during the senior shopping hour (8:30 – 9:30).   She was the first person in the store.  Everyone, employees and customers, had on masks.  From there we hustled to Walmart because she had placed an order for 9:00 pickup.  We have found the Staunton Walmart to be very good to work with on these take-out orders.  Finally, we ran by her sister Kay’s house to pick up a bill for their mother since Lynn pays all of her bills.

 

When we got back home, Lynn headed upstairs to sew and I decided to cut a little grass before the rain arrived.  I had only cut about half of the back yard when she came outside and suggested that we walk before the rain started.  We were able to get in a four mile walk before coming in for lunch just as the rain began falling.

 

Between and during our morning activities I’ve been on the phone  twice with the AAA travel agent who booked our family trip to Puerto Rico.  We have asked him to rebook our trip with Ann’s family from mid-June 2020 to mid-June 2021.  There have been some issues with his ability (perhaps willingness) to get this done as we have requested but I’m optimistic now that he’ll make it happen.  The reason why it is important for this to be taken care of now is that otherwise our final payment for the 2020 trip is due this Saturday.  Of course, we’re trying to just get him to transfer our down payment to the same trip one year later.

 

After lunch Lynn taught a Spanish lesson via Facetime to Georgia and Thomas.  She read to them a Curious George story both in English and Spanish, pausing to make sure they were picking up the vocabulary.  I believe they have an increased appreciation for her now.  She is not only a great grandmother, she is a Spanish teacher.

 

On one of our walks Lynn and I tried to think of who in our family has been most adversely affected economically thus far by COVID-19.  As I’ve stated before, none of our immediate family has lost his/her job though our lives have been altered dramatically.  Perhaps our niece Kit DeLeo Dangler has had the greatest loss of income since she is a dentist.  In general we have been very lucky.  CNN reports that “No matter how you look at the data, the last five weeks have marked the most sudden surge in jobless claims since the Department of Labor started tracking the data in 1967. American workers filed 26.5 million initial claims since March 14, according to the seasonally adjusted numbers.”  One in every six American workers has been laid off.

 

The numbers keep climbing.  Here are tonight’s:

Infected                   Died

World                 2,710,071              190,098

US                          876,156                49,648

Virginia                  10,998                     372

Augusta County            33                         1

 

Tonight’s news is same old, same old.  Many more deaths–California had its deadliest day on record today.  New research on the coronavirus is that it can cause stroke in younger victims.  Additional research shows many people have carried the virus asymptomatically but infected others.  Leading doctors say we will still be dealing with the virus in the fall while President Trump says not so.  ABC news emphasizes that the economic crisis has deepened.  Congress has appropriated another round of funds for small businesses but that money will likely get exhausted within a week.

 

The news is so depressing…

 

April 24, 2020

The bizarre news this morning is that our insane President suggested that people could get an “injection” of a “disinfectant” to deter coronavirus. He also suggested that ultraviolet rays may be the solution to COVID-19.  The medical community had an immediate response of disbelief.  Every time that man opens his mouth or laptop words of stupidity and/or untruth spew.

 

Like my father, I have always been a Democrat.  I believe in heavy support of public schools, health care for everyone, taxing the wealthy, supporting immigrants, a woman’s right to make choices about her own body, equal rights for everyone, eliminating the right for anyone to own an assault weapon, and a redistribution of wealth so that it is not held in the hands of a few.  I believe in the United Methodist slogan “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.”  I definitely did not vote for Ford, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, or George W. Bush.  But I did not hate any of these men nor do I think they had anything other than America as their primary interest.  We just had different views on which path would take us to the kind of life we all wanted.

 

Donald Trump is a different story.  He is interested in self-promotion, the financial health of himself and his wealthy cronies, dividing instead of uniting Americans, and bullying his opponents even when they are correct.  He cares more about his Facebook ratings and the stock market numbers than about people.  He is a racist whose campaign mantra was to “build the wall” to keep Mexicans out of the US.  He is a pathological liar: I read one account which said he had spoke or tweeted over 16,000 false or misleading claims in his first three years of his Presidency.  He has a disdain for science.  He is largely to blame for this awful situation we are in today with COVID-19.  He praises those who kiss his butt like his Vice President.  He will go to every means to destroy his opposition.  It is too bad that Congress didn’t can him during the January impeachment trial.  He never apologizes for his wrongdoings.  He is a miserable example for young people to follow.  Surely, surely he will be defeated this November.  I can’t figure out how anyone would support such a buffoon.

 

I apologize for not being able to stop this but I can’t help myself.  His supporters’ hats say “Make America Great” but his actions are to “Make America Hate.”   He promotes white male supremacy and chooses to build himself up by belittling others.  Yes, I despise the man.  He is an asshole.  There’s no other way I can put it.  Sorry.

 

Our walking was suspended yesterday when the rain came in early afternoon.  It rained all evening so we were able to get in only the one four mile hike.  Today the rain has ended so before lunch we took our 3.7 mile loop hike around Leaport Road.  The weather was very pleasant, around 60o.

 

Lynn managed to get in some paid work today, too.  She did a virtual IEP meeting for a student at McGaheysville Elementary School.  She was asked to interpret for the meeting since the mother only spoke Spanish.  They used Google Hangouts as their medium of collaboration.  The meeting included the SPED teacher, regular classroom teacher, Principal, Lynn, and mother who communicated only by phone.

 

Today proved to be a great day for walking.  The weather was great and the air smelled good.  We ended up walking three times.  Besides the morning 3.7 mile jaunt we took two more hikes.  First we walked the two mile route from our house along the newly paved Leaport Road. That’s one mile out and one back.  This time, though, we took a trash bag and gloves along and picked up the trash along the way.  This road is sparsely used yet the amount of trash we picked up shocked us.  We filled the trash bag!  Tonight, to finish our walking for the day, after dinner we went to Stewart Middle School and did three laps around the path.  All in all, we walked 7.5 miles today.

 

Tonight’s COVID-19 counts are as follows:

Infected                   Died

World                 2,826,035              196,931

US                          922,293                52,061

Virginia                  11,594                     410

Augusta County            34                         1

 

I talked to my sister Mary Katherine this afternoon,  She sounded good, all things considered, and said her Pennsylvania family was doing well, too.

 

April 25, 2020

We started the day early and had a successful Saturday morning. First we had a 8:00 pickup at Kroger.  While we waited for them to bring our groceries out we placed an order at The Meating Place for ground round and steak to be picked up on Tuesday.  The Kroger order had several items on it that were not filled.  We’ve unsuccessfully put disinfectant wipes and gloves on multiple pickup orders in the past few weeks.  But there were other items not found such as napkins and lima beans.

 

We’ve been providing saltines for Central’s soup distribution which takes places twice weekly.  Connie Davis and Millie Brown have been making two huge pots of vegetable and chicken noodle soup and providing it at no charge to anyone in the public who wants it.  They usually give out all 75 quarts in the first half hour.  We’ve been placing saltine orders on all of our grocery pick ups and today was no exception.  So once we got our groceries we went to Central where Lynn took in the six boxes we’d just purchased.  She also took in more masks as they have been going out like hotcakes.

 

From Central we stopped at two of Lynn’s friends, Cheryl Kent and Pat Collins, because she is sharing her latest big order of masks to be sewn.  The kits she orders come with the fabric precut.  The elastic has to be cut then the masks sewn.  Lynn has been getting 100 kits at a time.

 

After filling her car up with gas at only $1.64 per gallon, we returned home.  She went back to her sewing while I started on putting mulch around the front of the house.  I used the wheelbarrow and made around 30 trips from the driveway to the front of the house then put the mulch where it belonged using a pitchfork.  It took over an hour but I did get the front entirely done.  The only problem I had is that I only used about 1/4 of the mulch we ordered.  I still have to mulch the side of our house where the rose bushes are but we’re still going to have lots and lots of mulch left over.

 

In addition to sewing, Lynn has been busy making a couple of pound cakes.  Tomorrow is Ann’s 43rd birthday so Lynn wanted to make her a cake.  The house smells good from her baking.

 

No surprise, after lunch we took a walk.  This time we did the 3.7 mile loop plus a little more so we ended up with a little over 5 miles for the day.  With rain beginning in the mid-afternoon our walking was limited.  On our walk we bumped into Janet and Bee Myers and chatted a while with them.  Everyone nowadays just seems to be in disbelief of what the world has come to.  When will this end?  Will we ever return to the way it was prior to March, 2020?

 

There are lots of people our age who have children and grandchildren who live far away from them.  When we talk with them they lament how infrequently they get to see their family.  They express jealousy that all of our children and grandchildren live here in Virginia.  Since the quarantine started I know how they feel.  Yes, we can call, Facetime, or do our weekly Zoom session.  Those options are nice but pale in comparison to greeting them up close.  We miss eating Sunday night dinners with the Gutshalls.  We miss meeting the bus at 3:18 with Freddie and Betsy aboard (and sometimes Gus).  We miss going to Arlington and staying with Thomas and Georgia when Kay and Andy have needed us.  We miss meeting Jim and his family at a restaurant, even if it turns out to be Chick Fil-A.

 

Tonight’s COVID-19 numbers are as follows:

Infected                   Died

World                 2,912,262              202,937

US                          955,491                54,121

Virginia                  12,366                     436

Augusta County            36                         1

Harrisonburg now supposedly has 370 cases with 9 deaths.  Rockingham has 184 cases and 1 death.  I am suspicious of these figures because I know there were 13 who died in a Harrisonburg nursing home.

 

Some states are trying to re-open now though their incidence of COVID-19 has not been declining.  Fortunately, Virginia’s Governor Northram has insisted that the state will not consider this at least for two more weeks.  There are plenty of states such as Massachusetts and Illinois. which are considered hotspots with the outbreak still growing.   New York seems to be past its peak of infections though over 400 die each day in New York City.

 

Every newscast features some heartwarming story of how someone has done a good deed or donated something to assist or celebrate workers on the front line.  The news loves to feature stories of well-known athletes and others who have made substantial contributions toward the cause.  Usually there are stories of someone who is getting released from the hospital after a particularly tough battle with coronavirus like new mothers or octogenarians.  These are all glimpses of hope in an otherwise depressing era.  Unfortunately, these small snippets pale in comparison to the real news of a virus which killed over 50,000 Americans and has no known cure nor developed vaccine.  As of today there is still so, so much about COVID-19 that we do not know.  A story tonight stated that it is unknown how long the virus can live in the air. Another reiterated that we do not know if a person can be infected twice.  For a civilization that previously was so cocky about its accomplishments and knowledge, the last two months showed us how ignorant we really are about some things.

 

April 26, 2020

Today is a significant day for Lynn and me.  Forty three years ago today our lives changed immeasurably as Ann Cook Hill was born in Morgantown.  Ann has been a blessing to us from day one.  She is a wonderful mother to her four children, a thoughtful daughter, a devoted wife, a professional librarian, and a very level-headed young lady.  Lynn and I are so proud of her!

 

You’ve got to be doing things well when your mother-in-law sings your praises. Here’s what Susan Gutshall wrote on Facebook this morning:  “Our daughter-in-law, Ann, is having a birthday today.  She has been home with 4 kids during this pandemic, guarding them fiercely, so I hope they can give her some sunshine on this rainy day.  She insures that each child’s talents are nurtured.  Happy Birthday, Ann.  Your children are blessed to have a mom that gives her all to insure that their young gifts shine.  You are a prime example of a Mama Bear that would do anything for her cubs!”

 

Susan nailed it.

 

We’ll take her the pound cake Lynn made and a birthday card with our monetary present to her later today.  Such a shame that our time with her will be so short and at a six foot distance.  Days like today make social distancing both the enemy and the guardian soldier.

 

It rained overnight and is supposed to rain on and off throughout the day.  Things are so green in the Shenandoah Valley now.  Our lilacs are pretty and aromatic.  The redbud and dogwood trees are exceptionally red and white, respectively, this year.  Perhaps they’re always this attractive but we’re certainly noticing them more now that we take daily walks.

 

I watched “Meet the Press” this morning which, like all recent news programs, lamented the high death toll of coronavirus, the ineptitude of our current administration, the danger that some states are bringing on themselves for easing their social distancing requirements, and the economic devastation that has occurred in the past twelve weeks.  Bill Gates was shown wondering why testing was so severely limited.  He commented that the US has 330 million people but can only test under 200,000 each day.  Apparently less than 2% of the population has been tested thus far.  Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, was asked to justify Vice President Mike Pence’s comment on Friday that “by Memorial Day we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.”   She deflected the question and the following one about the President’s ridiculous statement about injecting disinfectant and sunlight into a patient.  A doctor from the University of Minnesota complained about the quantity and quality of testing.  He said we were in the earliest days of this pandemic with only 5% to 15% of the population having been infected thus far.  He said COVID-19 would be with us for the next 16 to 18 months.   He was somewhat skeptical about a vaccine being developed soon and stated that the virus could spread until 60% to 70% of the public gets infected and then “herd immunity” results.  Oh boy!

 

There was a break from rain in the hourly forecast this morning so we jumped at the occasion to take our 3.7 mile loop hike.  The temperature was in the low 50’s but there was no wind.  It turned out to be a fine time to walk.  We saw very, very few cars as we walked on the roads today.

 

After lunch we took Ann her birthday items and enjoyed a socially-distant visit with all six of her family.  They all look so good!  I hate what has happened to their social life.  At least for the moment they seem to be weathering this storm well.

 

We got back home and found that no rain was expected for another hour so off we took on our second walk of the day, our 2.6 mile trail.  On the way we got a Facetime call from Kay so we enjoyed our videoconference with her, Georgia, and Thomas.  We returned home before 3:00 having accumulated over six miles walking.  Not bad for a rainy Sunday.

 

Sunday’s dreary counts are as follows:

Infected                   Died

World                 2,991,073              206,822

US                          986,045                55,377

Virginia                  12,970                     448

Augusta County            36                         1

 

Today Kay told us about a frustrating conversation she had with someone yesterday in her neighborhood who still claimed that the whole coronavirus thing was a hoax.  He challenged Kay to name someone she knew who had gotten it, which she promptly did.  I’ve read about numerous disbelievers who ended up contracting the virus and dying.  What does it take to get people to believe the truth?

 

We’re two weeks beyond Easter. I’m reminded about the Doubting Thomas story.  He wouldn’t believe that Jesus had risen until he saw the nail holes.  I confess that sometimes my faith is no stronger than Thomas’.  But this is the mindset of some Americans now about COVID-19.   The coronavirus is either a hoax or just another mild flu-like virus that does not justify closing down the economy for, they claim.  Then they get hit with it.  Like Thomas, they get their proof.

 

I confess that I am scared of COVID-19.  It seems to affect some people much more adversely than others.  I don’t want to find out how it would affect me.  As I stated on the first day I started writing this I am in the at-risk group thanks to my age and asthma history.  I had pneumonia two years ago.  I had a CT Scan done of my lungs this past December.  The results showed some residual scar tissue from the pneumonia.  So, with Lynn’s exceptional help, I am doing my best to reduce the probability that I catch coronavirus.  We are following the CDC’s suggestions as best we can to shelter in place, keep our distance from others when we go out, wash our hands often, avoid touching our faces, and wear masks in public.  Plus, we are keeping our bodies in good shape by walking.  It’s working….

 

I hope that in a few years I’ll re-read this document and smile.

 

The days are becoming quite repetitive.  We get up between 6:00 and 7:00 AM.  While she showers, I fix her tea.  We eat breakfast while watching the morning news, then Lynn works on masks while I write or play games on my iPad.  Then we walk for 60-90 minutes followed by lunch.  After lunch there’s mask and writing time then a second walk.  We eat an early dinner which has been planned out at least one day in advance due to the inability to grab a needed ingredient at the last minute.  We watch the nightly news.  Sometimes we walk a third time.  I shower then join Lynn to watch some tv shows she has on our DVR and fall asleep by 9:30.

 

Today was a day in which we did three walks; our final one was after dinner at Stewart Middle School.  Three laps around the course there made our total for the day 8.2 miles.  We walked for over 150 minutes today according to her FitBit.

 

April 27, 2020

For the second week in a row, today I did one semi-public activity today.  Sam Richardson and I did our duty of counting money at Central UMC.  I believe we were both very safe.  We both wore masks and gloves.  We stayed at least six feet apart.  As soon as I was back at the car I took the gloves off and covered my hands with Purell.  He and I normally count at CUMC on Mondays after the last two Sundays in each month so it was our turn again today.  It needed to be done: there were checks to be deposited for over $4,000 plus a little bit of cash which was apparently received when Central did its soup giveaway which I described last week.

 

The money was certainly needed; Central, like all churches I suppose, has suffered financially since the stay-at-home orders were given.  The last service held at CUMC was on March 8.

 

I got word that the annual Bramwell Homecoming has been canceled.  It is always held the last Saturday in June.  We almost never miss.  The Hill family has a homecoming of its own that weekend each year so I suppose that will be called off, too.  Not only will I miss seeing folks I grew up with but the Chaparrals will miss reuniting and playing.  For the past several years, my high school era rock band has played a couple of songs at the annual sock hop held on Saturday night in Bramwell.  We had plans to do this again in 2020.  Jack Goins, our drummer, messaged me today of the cancellation.

 

We’ve also had to cancel two trips already to the Barter Theatre.  A third was planned for the days prior to the Bramwell Homecoming.  We really enjoy our trips to Abingdon and the Barter.  We’ve never seen a bad show there.  We love their musicals and comedies.  Each year we buy passes for twelve shows and usually see two or three on each trip.  Sometimes we take our bikes and ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail.

 

I’ve lost another old friend but this one isn’t a person, it’s a computer.  Shortly before I retired from Rockingham County Public Schools in 2012 I bought a 27″ iMac.  This computer served me well during the next five years that I taught at Bridgewater College and into my second retirement which began in 2017.  Alas, the hard drive has bitten the dust.  And before that it had slowed to a crawl.  Apple has a site where you enter the serial number and it tells you how much they’ll give you on a trade-in.  For mine, the site simply says to recycle it.

 

I used that computer for so many things over the past eight years.  I created SmartBoard lessons, webpages, handouts, quizzes, tests, and exams on it for my Bridgewater students.  I’ve created thousands of e-mails on it.  I used it to create the Chaparrals one and only CD from a reel-to-reel tape made in 1967.  I used it to create personalized calendars every year for the Hill and Hanger families.  It was used to sync all of our iPods, iPads, and iPhones so each is loaded with music we own.  I created the website that is hosting this blog on my iMac.  I wrote much of my book, Joe Hill: Millionaire, Mountaineer, Educator, Granddaddy, on it.

 

Thankfully, the computer will be missed but not any of the files that were created on it because I have many, many backups.  I used Apple’s Time Machine on an external drive to make regular backups of the entire hard drive which I can use to repopulate a new computer’s hard drive with all of these files once I buy one.  All of my 50,000+ pictures and all of my important files are safely backed up on many hard drives including one in our safety deposit box at the bank.  My pictures are perhaps my most important possession so I’ve gone to great length to organize and keep them.  All of them are on my Flickr site and accessible from my website.

 

I have a USB keyboard which can connect to Garage Band on my Macs.  With it I can create a song and overlay tracks to add other instruments and harmonies.  Shortly before Easter I decided to do that with one of my favorite hymns, Beneath the Cross of Jesus.  I first played it on our piano so I was comfortable with all of the harmonies Frederick Maker put into the song.  Then I moved to my computer to record the tracks.  That’s when I discovered that the hard drive was gone.  I tried various remedies but it was beyond repair.

 

I checked into getting a new hard drive but the cost of that would run me over $300.  I elected to not put that kind of money into an eight year old computer.  So at some time in the near future I hope to get a new iMac.  For the time being, I’m using our MacBook which is newer and works great.

 

As usual, I watched the evening news tonight on ABC.  It is so repetitive.  As always, I keep hoping to hear news of a breakthrough.  I’ll just have to keep watching…

 

I thought it might be worthwhile to compare the coronavirus statistics from the first day I started this, April 20, to today, April 27.  As the chart below shows, clearly COVID-19 is still raging in America despite the fact that the infection rate in some cities has eased:

 

April 20        Infected          Died                   April 27        Infected                Died

World                2,422,286     165,924                   World         3,058,552           211,177

US                         770,564       41,114                   US               1,007,514             56,624

Virginia                    8,990            300                   Virginia           13,535                  458

Augusta Co.                  22                0                   Augusta Co.           36                      1

Virginia’s death rate has increased by over 50% in the past week.  In just four months, the death toll in the US from this virus has already exceeded the total number of deaths from the Vietnam War (47,424).  That war lasted twenty years.

 

Today was a cold walking day, especially when we went on our morning walk.  The high was only in the mid 50’s.  But we still got in two walks totaling 7.5 miles.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a little warmer with temperatures reaching the low 60’s.

 

April 28, 2020 

I know the news media thrives on controversies.  Today’s controversy is not a new one but at least it’s the one on display.  There is a tremendous shortage of COVID-19 tests available today.  No one seems to dispute that.  However, the government’s spokespersons brag about how they’ve ramped up testing and have grandiose ideas about making tests available whereas those at ground level say that the tests just aren’t there.  Worse, some of the tests recently released to show if a person has had coronavirus or not apparently give a high percentage of false positives.

 

The availability of tests is an important part of the plan to re-open America.  Some states aren’t waiting on the ease of testing to get their restaurants, barber shops, malls, and beaches back open.  The President suggested yesterday that states should be considering re-opening schools.  That’s just foolish in my opinion.  Thank goodness our Governor happens to be a physician so these ideas just don’t go anywhere here in Virginia.

 

On our morning walk I told Lynn that I’d be going crazy with boredom if it weren’t for our walks and writing.  Sewing and walking have been her time-eaters.  We both like what we’re doing but will be overjoyed when we can do other things.

 

This afternoon Lynn and I went to The Meating Place just south of Staunton to pick up a large order of ground round and steaks we placed last Saturday.  This store is not far from Lynn’s Dad’s homeplace in Arbor Hill .  I was appalled at the clientele.  Fewer than 25% had on masks.  This time the maskless included white, black, women, and men.  She had to go inside to pick up the order so, of course, she donned hers.  But she said that the workers inside likewise did not have masks on.  WHAT PLANET DO THESE PEOPLE LIVE ON?  The masks are intended to keep others from getting your infection.  How selfish can you be to ignore the CDC’s requirement to put these on?  How in the world has Augusta County’s infection rate been so low given this kind of behavior?

 

Lynn talked briefly to one of the owners whom she knows.  She was told that the market was overwhelmed with work.  There’s a fear of meat shortages coming up in the next few weeks due to meat processing plants shutting down due to COVID-19.  Hopefully this local shop will continue to operate.  Their meats are more expensive but all from local farms.

 

This afternoon Central UMC had an Administrative Council meeting via Zoom.  I’m the secretary of the group so I had to try to keep up with my laptop’s screen while typing minutes on it simultaneously.  There were ten of us online simultaneously.  It all worked well and I’ve already forwarded my minutes to council members to review.

 

My major job at Central isn’t secretary of Council, it’s Finance Chairman.  This isn’t a good time to be the one who oversees the finances of a church.  In getting ready for the meeting I created a graph which showed our memberships’ offerings each April for the past five years.  For 2016-2019 the average was almost $16,000.  For 2020 the April total was $7,366, less than half of what we’re accustomed to getting.  We haven’t had a worship service at the church since March 8.  This data clearly shows why we applied for one of the government’s Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loans.  We just got word today that we have been awarded $18,237.  This loan will become a grant as long as we do not reduce staff in the next few months.

 

As detailed by Lynn’s FitBit, we set a personal best today for COVID-19 walking:  9.05 miles, 21,000+ steps, and 177 minutes.  I’m not sure when in my lifetime prior to this quarantine I would have had three hours in which to just walk.  Nowadays there’s nothing else to do.  We walked three times today.  It’s therapeutic for me, I know.  We don’t always carry on an active conversation while we’re walking side by side but we don’t argue.  I really, really like walking with Lynn.  She’s good company and is an excellent walker.

 

The numbers tonight prove that this pandemic is far from being over:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,134,199              217,596

US                       1,034,115                59,112

Virginia                  14,339                     492

Augusta County            39                         1

Wow, over a million people infected in the US.  Zero in this house–I suppose–we probably couldn’t get a test if we wanted one.

 

April 29, 2020

As always, there were some head-shaking events yesterday involving our current administration.  First, our President was upstaged when Vice President Pence spoke at the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremonies held in Colorado on April 18.  Supposedly this service was held with attendees obeying social distancing.  So Trump decided that he should speak at a military graduation, too.  He invited himself to speak at West Point’s graduation ceremonies scheduled for June 13.  One thousand cadets will be summoned back to campus amid shutdowns and domestic travel restrictions.  Why?  So his ego can be stroked and he’ll get more publicity.

 

But the Vice President himself showed his stupidity even more yesterday when he visited the Mayo Clinic.  Despite the CDC’s recommendations and the Mayo Clinic’s policy that everyone wear masks, he was photographed bare-faced with everyone around him obeying the mandate. When asked why he didn’t wear a mask, he replied that he had tested negative for coronavirus and wanted to “look workers in the eye.”  NO MASKS COVER THE EYES!  What an idiot.  He’s no brighter than the customers at The Meating Place.

 

Once again we’re sheltering in place but not exactly.  Today’s schedule began with a dermatologist appointment for Lynn shortly after breakfast.  This was not a telephone visit; she and I drove to the doctor’s office in Staunton so she could get a pre-cancerous spot over her eye taken care of.  She has had this appointment for a while and decided her safety would not be compromised due to the careful actions of the doctor and nurse.

 

When we got to the Doctor’s office, we remained in our car while Lynn called the office to let them know we were here.  Then someone from the office came out to verify Lynn’s name and ask her if she had experienced shortness of breath, headaches, loss of smell, cough, etc. — all the symptoms of COVID-19.  This person had a mask on and stayed more than six feet from our vehicle.  Later the nurse came out and summoned Lynn inside.  The parking lot has become the waiting room!

 

Her appointment took less than twenty minutes.  She said the office had been very careful to follow all precautions.

 

Driving back I couldn’t help but notice who was working and who wasn’t now.  A very large number of construction workers are building the new Staunton High School beside the previous one.  I can’t imagine how they can keep themselves isolated.  Hardware stores, gas stations, highway workers, and lawn businesses are working as if nothing has changed.  Ingleside golf course had lots of players.  Banks, pharmacies, and restaurants have drive-up business only.  Church, school, and retail store parking lots are virtually empty.

 

Later I observed more businesses as we drove to Stuarts Draft to pick up the plant order we had placed at Milmont Garden Center.  Open were Dollar General, the post office, car wash, farm equipment stores, tire stores, auto parts businesses, and, interestingly, the ABC store.  Closed were gyms, beauty salons, the Thrift Store, and Eli’s Fun Center.  On the road there were plenty of truckers and white panel trucks of businesses.  The Garden Center was a zoo!  The parking lot was packed.  Most, but not all, people had on masks but social distancing was not being practiced.  We didn’t have to worry about this because we placed our order yesterday and had curbside pickup for it.  It cost us an extra $10 but, based on the crowd, it was worth it.

 

Anyone need mulch?  I’ve got a huge pile of it in excess of what I need.  I spent time this morning spreading it around our rose bushes on the side of the house except for one place where a bush died and will be replaced this afternoon.

 

Lynn posts a lot on Facebook.  Most of her postings are re-posts from others about recipes, words of wisdom, Trump’s ineptitude, and local events..  Many are humorous including one she posted two weeks ago which said “Let’s play a fun quarantine game….Someone leave a bottle of wine on my door and I’ll try to guess who it was.”  As we left for our morning walk today, guess what was at the door!

 

Actually, while I was distributing mulch this morning I saw the person who did this.  The entire time we walked, around an hour, Lynn tried to get me to tell her who it was.  She has many, many friends so there were lots of suspects.  But I wouldn’t tell!  Finally, it was give in or get a divorce lawyer so I told her if she named the person I’d say yes or no.   She guessed a few neighbors and family members, none of which were correct.  She eventually said Mary Gooden so I had to smile and agree.

 

I called my brother Butch yesterday to check in with him.  All is well in Athens, Ohio.  His only complaint was that since Ohio University is not in session the pool where he normally swims a few times per week has been closed.  We agreed that it was nicer to be retired during this era than working!

 

With all of our Easter activities and trips canceled, I had no chance to take pictures in April as I have in the past.  I greatly miss seeing pictures of our family.  Today I decided to take my camera along as Lynn and I took our second walk of the day, our 3.7 mile loop.  Of course, I posted the 100+ pictures I took to my Flickr site and linked to them from this web page.  The pictures show that we see lots of animals as we walk.  Today I got photos of cows, sheep, horses, deer, dogs, and a pig.  We see lots of pretty flowers and some nicely kept houses.  The pictures show that this hike is hilly and passes some pretty farms with many green fields.  At the end I got some photos of our house which looks good now with flowers blooming.

 

Tonight’s dinner was superb.  We had left potatoes to bake while we hiked.  When we got back I grilled some of the fresh rib eye steaks from The Meating Place.  Lynn cooked mushrooms to top and we split a wine cooler.  Of course, there were ice cream treats for dessert.

 

Our day concluded with our weekly Zoom session with the rest of the family.  It was fun to see them and chat for a little while.

 

Here are the daily counts:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,217,825              228,005

US                       1,063,863                61,635

Virginia                  14,961                     522

Augusta County            41                         1

 

There was a bit of good news about the pandemic this evening.  Dr. Fauci, whom we trust, said the data shows that the drug remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recover.  And, Oxford scientists say that a vaccine may be available by September.  Let’s hope both of these prove to be true.

 

April 30, 2020

Another night with heavy rain resulted in our neighborhood looking greener than ever this morning.  Our well should be in good shape after all the rain we’ve had in April.  Another good sign is that we’ve seen the hummingbird back again including some visits this morning.

 

A post on Facebook from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph today says “Roughly 30.3 million people have now filed for jobless aid as the U.S. economy slides further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s.”  I regret that there are so many families in America whose finances have been ruined by this pandemic but simultaneously thankful that my family has been subject to just inconvenience, not devastation.  At least, so far….

 

Mid-morning I got a call from City National Bank in Staunton.  Central’s PPP loan application was ready to be closed and I was asked to meet a representative at 1:00.  I did so–we met in the parking lot so to be socially distant–and signed the papers.  As a result of this program we instantly get $18,732 from the government which will turn into a grant as long as we don’t reduce staff in the next eight weeks.  Of course, there will be some paperwork to complete when June gets here but it shouldn’t be bad.

 

While I went to Staunton for the loan application signing, Lynn conducted another Spanish lesson via Facetime with Thomas and Georgia.  Those kids are lucky to have her as their Grandmommy.

 

It rained all morning so our first walk of the day was delayed until mid-afternoon.  We did the 3.7 mile loop.  This time it went faster because I didn’t have my camera with me.  We added two more shorter walks later in the day and ended up with a 7.2 mile net for today.  Not bad for two old people!

 

Tonight’s news said the President wants to have a vaccine by the end of 2020.  There are over a hundred vaccines under study now throughout the world.  There would need to be over 300 million vaccinations  in order to include everyone in the US.  Without vaccinations, I can’t help but wonder how events can happen like ball games, church services, concerts, etc.

 

Today’s dilemma is that there is increasing pressure to get the population back to work.  Some food processing plants have been closed down due to the epidemic.  The government is saying that these plants are essential and need to add safety features and re-open.  Some states are beginning to lift their bans on non-essential businesses.  If these businesses do re-open but some of their employees fear returning to work, will they be eligible for the same unemployment benefits they are now receiving?  Do they have to choose between staying safely at home with no income or return to work in an environment that is unsafe?

 

Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,303,300              233,784

US                       1,094,464                63,827

Virginia                  15,846                     552

Augusta County            43                         1

 

May 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

May 1, 2020

This morning’s news details that many states are easing on their “shelter at home” mandates even though there have not necessarily been at least 14 days of diminishing number of COVID-19 cases in these states.  Virginia is not one of those states.  Virginia also has one of the country’s worst tests per capita rates.

 

Today marks seven weeks since we returned from the Greenbrier and faced the first routine-changing events which rapidly turned into a full quarantine.  Thank goodness Lynn and I get along so well despite being side by side for all this time.  I feel sorry for those couples that routinely feud who are bound together in these times.

 

Today marks seven weeks since we returned from the Greenbrier and faced the first routine-changing events which rapidly turned into a full quarantine.  Thank goodness Lynn and I get along so well despite being side by side for all this time.  I feel sorry for those couples that routinely feud who are bound together in these times.

 

Lynn was asked to sit in on a Zoom session involving all of Rockingham County Public Schools’ ELL teachers today.  The session lasted over two hours.  I had plenty of time to cut the grass and relax while she kept up with how RCPS ELL teachers are trying to teach kids in this closed-school era.

 

Coincidentally, I read an article today which pointed out that school serves as a child care facility for working parents when it is in session.  Now, with school out and some parents being summoned back to work, the issue of child care is tough for some families.

 

Parents can’t drop the kids off with the grandparents anymore.  The article pointed out that even this summer will bring more hardships than usual since camps are already canceled and, once again, grandparents are being shielded from COVID-19 as much as possible.

 

We got in our 2.6 mile walk shortly after lunch.  Most of the walk was spent in a Facetime session with Jim, Coen, and Faron.  During the call Jim got a visit from a neighbor so the boys were left inside with the phone on.  They talked and talked to us.  Ordinarily they aren’t as talkative around us but today they updated us on all their adventures, toys, and new goldfish.  Both have very good vocabularies for boys three and four years old.

 

A poll today revealed that only 20% of Americans say they would be comfortable going to a stadium event now.  No surprise, an economist predicted that the economy will not rebound until the virus is better contained.  As much as I love WVU football, even if the season does go on as planned, which is very questionable now, I will enjoy watching the Mountaineers on TV this season.  Lynn and I usually go to three or four games each season.  Approximately 65,000 people attend each WVU home game; that’s pretty close to the number of fatalities in the US so far in 2020 due to coronavirus.

 

I have a very good hearted wife.  She has been tutoring a student at Waynesboro High School once or twice each week for a year and a half.  She has been tutoring students for over thirteen years as part of the Migrant Education Program funded through Albemarle County Public Schools.  Juan Pablo has made good progress but Lynn hasn’t been able to meet with him since the first week of March due to the pandemic.  Today she created a bag for him containing two masks, a bag of Takis, some Coke, and some Tootsie Rolls.  He likes all of the treats.  We took them to his house in Waynesboro today.  She was able to speak to him a little in the yard.  Lynn is so thoughtful!

 

She is also a good cook.  We’ve eaten so well during the quarantine.  Tonight she made homemade biscuits which we had with country ham.  Ann had picked up some vegetables for us from a farm market in Stuarts Draft so we also had corn on the cob.  Yum!

 

We didn’t have as much time to walk today.  Our second walk was around Stewart Middle and Fort Defiance High School.  We ended up with only 5.5 miles today.

 

Today’s grim statistics:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,398,072              239,399

US                       1,130,851                65,729

Virginia                  16,901                     581

Augusta County            44                         1

 

We watched a press conference today with our Governor.  He said that so far Virginia has been able have an adequate supply of hospital beds, ventilators, and personal protective equipment.  The Commonwealth is still behind the curve in the number of people tested.

 

Alas, I’ve been without my truck all week.  I had hopes the part Simmons had ordered would arrive today and I’d get it back for the weekend.  That didn’t happen.  Ugh!  I have lots of trash to take to the dump.  Ann and Josh need for me to bring my mower to their house because theirs is broken.  Then I need to take their mower to Jim so he can work on it.  All of these mower transports involve my trailer which I cannot use until I get my truck back.

 

Today was also payday.  Looking at our finances, we decided it was time to get a new refrigerator.  We’d previously done research on various models for the replacement.  The ice maker and ice dispenser on ours are both broken and since it is one of the models which delivers ice through the door getting this fixed would be expensive.  We’ve had nothing but trouble with the ice and water dispenser so we’ve decided on a model which has an ice maker but it and the water dispenser are on the inside of the freezer with french doors above.  We called our friends Chris and Patrick Sheets at S & W Appliance in Staunton and ordered it today.  Yippee!

 

May 2, 2020

This was perhaps the nicest day of 2020.  The temperature was in the low 70’s most of the day with lots of blue skies.  It was a Saturday and everywhere we saw people outside working in their yards, walking, etc.  The Shenandoah Valley was lush and the spring trees were magnificent.

 

It was a good day for us, too, because we didn’t make it another same-old-same-old day.  It began early with a 7:00 grocery pickup at Walmart followed by a 8:00 pickup at Kroger.  After a quick stop at Central UMC to drop off the crackers we had purchased for the soup ministry we headed home.

 

Lynn had already started on an idea of hers.  For the past five years, she has arranged for the girls in our family to attend a Mothers Day Tea at a local restaurant, Nissa’s Cafe.  There were four generations at every Tea: her Mom, Lynn, Ann, Kay, Betsy, and Georgia.  This Tea was a fund raiser on behalf of a former student of Lynn’s who died from cancer.  The family helps out other families in a similar circumstance with money they raise from various fundraisers.  It turns out that Nissa’s Cafe shut down this year but still the Tea was planned for today at a different location in Staunton.  Then along came coronavirus….

 

Lynn wasn’t about to let the idea of the Tea stop.  She decided to do her own Tea and link to the other families using Zoom.  First she needed to come up with cookies so she started baking early today.  Her plan was to ship them overnight to Kay in Arlington.  I told her that with the cheap price of gasoline we could just take the cookies to Arlington just as cheaply.  So we decided to do that.

 

First we had our morning walk on the 3.7 loop.  This turned out to be our only walk of the day as we spent most of the rest of the day in my car.

 

By 1:30 she had two different kinds of cookies made plus some she had in her morning grocery order.  She added some raspberry tea bags because they always had raspberry tea at Nissa’s.  Plus she made some pimento cheese because that, too, was traditionally served at the Tea.

 

The ride to Arlington was a typical 2 1/4 hour drive.  I was surprised that the traffic was so heavy, especially on I-66 near Washington.

 

We got there at 4:00 and spent a great hour in front of their house chatting with Kay and Andy, watching the kids ride their bikes, admiring Kay’s new car, and taking pictures.  It was such a shame that we couldn’t hug them all.  We safely kept our distance.

 

The traffic on the way back home was lighter.  Usually I-81 is miserably packed with traffic, especially truckers, but this evening it wasn’t bad.  We stopped for dinner at a Chick Fil-A drive through which was served to us very efficiently and safely.

 

The COVID-19 stats for today are as follows:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,483,347              244,761

US                       1,160,774                67,444

Virginia                  17,731                     616

Augusta County            45                         1

 

May 3, 2020

For the first time I can recall this spring, the temperature was over 60o when I got the newspaper early in the morning.  So shortly after breakfast we decided to take a walk.  We ended up making two hikes each of two miles so by 11:00 we had nearly reached Lynn’s daily goal of 10,000 steps.

 

Central UMC had an unusual event this morning that we participated in–drive through Communion.  Pastor Won had prepared small packages of grape juice and crackers that each car was given as we filed past the church.  Plus, Millie Brown and Connie Davis had prepared soup so we were also given one quart of vegetable soup and one quart of corn chowder.  This would normally have been our “soup and sup” Sunday with soup after Morning Worship so the event went on despite the quarantine.

 

Won is getting better at delivering online worship services.  Today’s recording also featured some special music with a guest cellist accompanying music director Yi-Ping Chen who played the piano.

 

The feature event today was the Mothers’ Day Tea via Zoom.  Kay and Georgia in Arlington, Ann and Betsy on our back porch, and Lynn inside had a hour long visit with each other with tea and cookies.  My job was to take pictures and post them on my website.  It all worked out well.  It was so much fun to hear Betsy and Georgia giggling!  The only hiccup was that it was too hot on the back porch for Ann and Betsy so they came in to our kitchen while Lynn moved to the living room.

 

Afterwards Lynn and I took our second walk of the day.  We opted to do the 3.7 Leaport loop which we’ve done many times.  But today was the most difficult for me because the temperature had soared to 80o.  We’ve walked that course when the temperature was in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, but never upper 70’s.  I don’t think I realized how little shade the route has.  It was a very tough walk for me.  We ended up the day with nearly eight miles.

 

After another tasty dinner, Lynn had a chat with her Mom who is still doing well at The Legacy in Staunton.  This facility has been so blessed to have avoided COVID-19 thus far.

I may quit posting the daily counts but here are today’s:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,562,269              248,094

US                       1,187,233                68,566

Virginia                  18,671                     660

Augusta County            46                         1

The scary numbers remain just north of us.  Harrisonburg has 478 cases.  Rockingham County has 265.

 

The day ended with our bi-weekly Zoom meeting with our Covenant group at Central.  It was nice to chat with Jim and Vicki Printy, John and Ginny Bauman, John and Eileen Myers, and Connie and Tom Davis.  We shared how we’re surviving.

 

May 4, 2020

Today was another spectacular day with sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s.  The forecast for the next several days is much worse with rain all day tomorrow and into Wednesday.  Plus the temperatures are going to be in the 40’s and 50’s until the weekend.

 

We took advantage of the good weather by taking three walks.  The first was once we found out my truck was fixed and ready to be picked up.  We walked the one mile uphill hike to T & B Simmons Repair Shop and got it, drove home, then walked another three miles which meant we had four miles under our belts before lunch.

 

Our second walk was mid-afternoon and our third was after dinner.  All in all we put in over 7.5 miles.  We won’t get nearly that much tomorrow with rain coming.

 

Today was Food Bank pickup day so my truck was ready in the nick of time.  Once again I  did the pickup without going into either the Blue Ridge Food Bank or Central UMC with the delivery.  We had three pickup loads full today.

 

The news tonight was not encouraging.  Despite more than 68,000 deaths already in the US, the news tonight had a story of one model’s prediction that the number of deaths will be at 3,000 per day by June 1 and could be as high as 100,000 per day.  More and more people are ignoring social distancing and in many places there are crowds protesting over the restrictions.  Thirty eight states have eased their restrictions.  Some of them have not seen the recommended 14 consecutive days of no increase in infections.  The fear among the medical community is that the number of cases will erupt again especially in these places.

 

There is a battle of words going on as to how coronavirus got its start.  We were originally told it came from a meat market in Wuhan, China.  Now President Trump has signaled that it came from a laboratory in Wuhan.  Of course, few of us believe anything that man says.

 

There is more information about possible vaccines.  Worldwide there are 8 human trials, 2 in the United States.  Oxford Researchers are hoping that the first results in humans will be known by June.  Trump claims there will be a vaccine by the end of the year.  Some scientists warn, though, that this may not happen.

 

In an afternoon press conference, Governor Northram announced that Virginia’s restrictions will stay in place until May 15.  I’m sure there are plenty of right-wingers who will have a fit with that.  Beginning May 15, Virginia will start a three-phase process to get people back to work if all goes as planned.

 

Some grocery stores have begun limiting meat sales to customers due to the meat shortage caused by processing plants being closed due to COVID-19.  We have more than enough meat in our freezer to last for months so we shouldn’t be affected by this for a long time.

 

With my truck back on the road, I did a trash run today.  Lynn went with me and our first stop was at the Gutshall’s to get theirs.  We got to see Ann, Betsy, Freddie, and Henry.  All looked good.

 

It had been weeks since we’d been to our favorite ice cream store, Smiley’s in Mount Crawford.  After supper this evening we made a quick run there where Lynn got Heavenly Coconut Cookie, one of the flavors of the week, while I got my regular Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk.  Yum!

 

Apparently President Trump was recently interviewed while sitting in the Lincoln Memorial.  One of his outlandish statements in that interview is that he has been the worst-treated President in American history.  He said this while sitting in the memorial to a President who was assassinated.  What irony!  One comment to this story said that Trump would probably want America to build a memorial to him larger than the Lincoln version.  No chance.

 

Given tonight’s news, it probably would be important that I continue to post these statistics:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,640,805              251,844

US                       1,211,545                69,617

Virginia                  19,492                     684

Augusta County            47                         1

 

Harrisonburg and Rockingham County still are under siege from COVID-19.  Their infections are 497 and 269, respectively.  Staunton has 13 cases; Waynesboro 14.  What a difference!

 

May 5, 2020

The threat of rain didn’t deter this pair of walking old people.  After breakfast we got in our 2.6 mile walk just before the rain started.  The temperature was chilly, 49o, but there was no wind so it didn’t feel that cold.

 

The future is so unsure, especially the future of traveling.  As I wrote earlier, we’ve already postponed our trips to Puerto Rico and Brazil/Argentina scheduled for 2020.  But there are more future trips that are in limbo now.  We’ve been to 48 states–all except Oregon and Hawaii.  We initially were thinking of going to Oregon this fall then Hawaii next summer with Kay’s family.  We then changed our mind about the Oregon trip when the South America vacation came along.  Now I don’t know if/when either will happen.  We have traveled so much in the past ten years; it is really depressing to be so tethered to our house now.

 

I did a little vacuuming today.  The furniture was exactly where it was a couple of weeks ago when I vacuumed last.  This is sad.  When the kids came over several times each week, the downstairs furniture would get moved around, pillows scattered out of place, tv remotes lost between the couch cushions, and various electronics routinely left on.  How I wish for dishevelment!  No one except for Lynn and I have been in our house for weeks and weeks, except for a few moments on Sunday when Betsy and Ann did some of the Mothers’ Day Tea in our kitchen.  Sheltering in place is necessary but it is lonely.

 

We managed to walk more than I thought we could possibly do on a rainy day.  Between showers we went to Stewart Middle School and added a couple of miles to our daily total.  In all we netted 5.6 miles today.

 

Today is May 5, Cinco De Mayo.  To celebrate, Lynn made a great Mexican dinner with taco salad and guacamole.  The guacamole was particularly tasty.

 

After dinner both of us worked on a project she had using her Cricut machine and its associated software.  This was the first time she had tried this particular option and it took both of us a while to figure out how it was done.  She’s making an iron-on design for a shirt that is like one on another shirt.

 

The news is so repetitive.  There’s no need restating here what I’ve been saying for weeks now.  Same old stuff.

 

Today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,723,745              257,975

US                       1,237,045                72,242

Virginia                  20,256                     713

Augusta County            47                         1

 

The virus may have leveled off some but the rate of infection is still extraordinary.   It is still scary.

 

In today’s “can you believe it?” news, the Trump administration is considering disbanding the White House’s coronavirus task force, administration officials said, as the virus continues to spread around the country.  Trump seems to care much more about economic indictors than he does death counts.  To top it off, he visited a mask factory in Arizona today and ignored signs requiring a mask to be worn as he only wore safety goggles on his eyes.  Does he think goggles are going to protect him or anyone else from COVID-19?  This is the man in charge of our country…..

 

May 6, 2020

Life huddled in a country house usually has little excitement but today was different.  Shortly after breakfast we heard sirens.  Then no less than eight fire trucks zoomed past our house.  The trucks were from Verona, Staunton, Weyers Cave, New Hope, and Fishersville.  Other emergency vehicles including an ambulance also flew by and headed up toward the church we always walk to, Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church.

 

It turns out that a house just past the church had caught on fire.  First reports were there was someone entrapped but by the time the trucks got there everyone was out of the house.  Damage was heavy to an upstairs bedroom but there were no injuries, thankfully.

 

The fire did prevent us from doing our normal morning walk as the road was blocked at the church so we avoided it.  We did get in a two mile walk in relatively brisk weather.

 

Just as we were leaving I got a text from my brother informing us that Ann, his wife, had been taken to a hospital in Columbus OH with kidney issues.  Because of COVID-19 he was not allowed to accompany her nor visit.  She was tested for coronavirus but the results were negative.  It is still sad that he can’t even visit with her in Columbus.   He told us that the issue was not life-threatening.

 

I read a New York Times article this morning.  Here are excerpts:

In New York City, the daily onslaught of death from the coronavirus has dropped to half of what it was. In Chicago, a makeshift hospital in a lakefront convention center is closing, deemed no longer needed. And in New Orleans, new cases have dwindled to a handful each day.

Yet across America, those signs of progress obscure a darker reality.

The country is still in the firm grip of a pandemic with little hope of release. For every indication of improvement in controlling the virus, new outbreaks have emerged elsewhere, leaving the nation stuck in a steady, unrelenting march of deaths and infections.

As states continue to lift restrictions meant to stop the virus, impatient Americans are freely returning to shopping, lingering in restaurants and gathering in parks. Regular new flare-ups and super-spreader events are expected to be close behind.

Coronavirus in America now looks like this: More than a month has passed since there was a day with fewer than 1,000 deaths from the virus. Almost every day, at least 25,000 new coronavirus cases are identified, meaning that the total in the United States — which has the highest number of known cases in the world with more than a million — is expanding by between 2 and 4 percent daily.

Rural towns that one month ago were unscathed are suddenly hot spots for the virus. It is rampaging through nursing homes, meatpacking plants and prisons, killing the medically vulnerable and the poor, and new outbreaks keep emerging in grocery stores, Walmarts or factories, an ominous harbinger of what a full reopening of the economy will bring.

Butch later texted us that Ann was doing better in the Columbus hospital.  She should be released soon from the ICU and possibly discharged in a couple of days.  He was able to talk with her a couple of times today.  Let’s hope she gets the treatment she needs.

Our afternoon walk was done in very brisk weather.  Over the next week the forecast is for temperatures to be 10 or more degrees below normal.  We walked to the church and could see the house that had been damaged by fire earlier today.

This afternoon our new refrigerator was delivered and installed.  Here we are now with two people in the house with three refrigerators and a freezer!  Actually we hope Ann will be able to leave some items here when she needs because she didn’t have room for another refrigerator at her house.  We offered ours to her.

The two men delivering the refrigerator were both mask-less.  I wore mine while they were here and gave each of them one from Lynn’s collection.  One never did put it on.

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 3,810,785              264,021

US                       1,256,669                74,121

Virginia                             Today’s data not available

Augusta County                Today’s data not available

 

The Virginia Department of Health website was down most of the day today so I don’t have statistics from the state or local.  Alas, another day with more than 2,000 deaths in the United States.

 

May 7, 2020

The two quarantined people in this household were fairly busy today.  Our day began with a 7:00 grocery pickup at Walmart.  Included in that order were crackers for Central UMC’s soup ministry so we took the six boxes of saltines over to the church kitchen before returning to Aldi’s grocery store for their 8:30 senior citizen shopping hour.  Lynn was the first one in the store and quickly got the few items we needed.

 

We returned home in plenty of time for her to interpret for a Rockingham County Special Education meeting involving a Hispanic family.  She talked with the mother on the phone while simultaneously connected on Zoom to a few of the student’s teachers including the SPED teacher.

 

While Lynn did this, I trimmed a bush in off our back porch.  This is a yearly chore for me.  Today’s weather was nice for chores like this.

 

It was also good for walking so we did our short walk, 2.6 miles, before lunch.  Later on we did our long one, the 3.7 mile Leaport loop.

 

I also cut our grass today.  I could have waited a day or so but the upcoming weather looks much colder and wet so I went ahead and did the job today.

 

Lynn has been working on a project using her Cricut machine.  She’s been stumped several times but keeps working at it.  She is probably feeling very frustrated tonight because she had to re-do lots of work today and still was unable to get past a certain step on her project.

 

The Virginia Department of Health’s website was back up today:

 

Infected                   Died

World                 3,911,432              270,338

US                       1,291,222                76,894

Virginia                  21,570                     769

Augusta County            55                         1

 

Once again, the US has over 2,000 deaths in one day from COVID-19.  How can anyone say that we’re getting control of this?

 

In the news tonight it was reported that one of the employees who serves President Trump his meals has been tested positive for coronavirus.  Isn’t it just a matter of time before he gets it?  He never wears a mask.  One of the news reporters tonight said he had never seen anyone in the West Wing of the White House with a mask on.  “Do as I say, not as I do.”

 

I don’t wish this virus on anyone but I believe that if Trump did get it he would realize that personal health is more important than personal finance.

 

May 8, 2020

It has now been eight weeks since we’ve been locked down.  So for eight weeks, I have not:

  • touched a single person except Lynn
  • been within six feet of any of my three children or eight grandchildren
  • entered a grocery store
  • visited any retail establishment such as Costco, Kohl’s, or Walmart
  • been to a sporting event
  • attended any kind of entertainment event outside my house
  • eaten at any restaurant
  • worshipped at my church
  • traveled on any overnight trip

All of the above were previously things that I did very, very often.  What I have done is to avoid contact with people, walk miles and miles each day, and hunker down with Lynn.  It has been very depressing and worrisome.  I long for the good old days though I am not sure they will ever return in my lifetime.

 

The weather this spring has been unpredictable.  The only constant is the wind.  Perhaps I’m just noticing the wind more that we are walking outside, but for the many years I coached or watched tennis I kept up pretty well with spring weather.  It seems like every day we have to deal with 20 mph winds.  A brisk wind can turn a 60o walk into a cold task.

 

The weather for the next week is supposed to be 20 degrees colder than usual.  The high for tomorrow is supposed to be 49o.  Lynn and I will probably still get our walking in but we’ll be bundled up.  Today we walked seven miles with temperatures in the 50’s and that ever-present stiff wind.

 

Lynn worked for many hours today on her Cricut project.  She’s getting closer to figuring things out.  When she works on it she uses the laptop.  Since our desktop iMac is now dead I am not able to keep up with my writing as much as before.

 

For dinner tonight we got take-out from our favorite Staunton restaurant, The Depot.  The food was good but the atmosphere back here at 296 Leaport Road wasn’t as cool as it was at the restaurant when we were able to eat there.  Perhaps someday we’ll be able to eat there again.  It doesn’t appear like that will be soon.

 

Our governor is holding to the closure of non-essential businesses for one more week.  Then places like barber shops can re-open but there will be many restrictions.  He said today that when the ban is lifted churches will be able to resume services as long as the building is no more than 50% occupied.  Just yesterday Pastor Won sent a questionnaire out to Central’s Administrative Council wondering if anyone would be interested in having worship services soon if the ban were lifted.  Not a single person responded that this would be a good idea.

 

The news today had a story about an illness that is affecting a few children who were thought to have previously had, and recovered from, COVID-19.  The illness doesn’t happen until weeks after COVID-19 and was fatal for one child in New York.  This is really scary since previously children were generally considered safe from the virus.

 

Today’s figures:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,010,571              275,959

US                       1,321,666                78,599

Virginia                  22,342                     812

Augusta County            55                         1

 

May 9, 2020

The lowest high temperature on record for May 9 is 52o according to this morning’s weather report.  The predicted high today is 50o.  Plus there is a fairly stiff wind accompanying the cold air so we opted to not take a morning walk today.

 

Instead, Lynn worked on her Cricut project for a long time.  There were several restarts along the way but she finally got it all figured out.  I was able to help a little with tech issues.  She finished the project after dinner.

 

After lunch we bundled up as if it were winter and did our 2.6 mile hike.  It wasn’t that unbearable.

 

Lynn made a second batch of strawberry preserves today; she made one batch earlier in the week.  Yum!  She somehow uses her bread maker to make the preserves.  I am so lucky to have her.  Tomorrow is Mother’s Day but today I get the treat.

 

The unemployment rate is now 15%, the highest since the Great Depression.  More than 20 million people lost their jobs in April.  As before, there are protests to re-open states despite the fact that few states have met the criteria that states were supposed to use in order to re-open.

 

We bundled up again and took a second walk today, this time at the local middle and high schools.  We walked around 3 miles and ended up with nearly 6 miles for the day.  Not bad for two old people in less-than-desirable weather.

 

The news tonight said that approximately one-third of all deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States have occurred in nursing homes.  We keep our fingers crossed that Lynn’s mother will continue her healthy stay at The Legacy in Staunton.  Tomorrow her four children plan to “visit” her from outside her apartment there.  The nursing crew at The Legacy is going to move Mrs. Hanger over to the window to see them and hopefully will be able to chat with them.

 

There is still so much undecided for the remainder of this year.  Will schools and colleges re-open?  If so, how will it be different?  What about churches?

 

I don’t believe coronavirus is going to magically disappear someday.  In some ways, I feel like we’re huddled at our houses giving hospitals the chance to treat those who have been infected but all of us are going to get it eventually once we “open up.”  I read today that the one drug, remdesivir, which has been effective treating those who have the most advanced cases, is in very small supply.  The doses of it which are available are being sent to the more metropolitan hospitals.  So if one of us gets COVID-19 we’d not be able to get the drug here in rural Virginia.

 

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the news is also very depressing about very young children having a life-threatening reaction after contracting COVID-19.  New York has three children who have now died from this condition.  This is so scary.

 

I pray.  I pray every day about our world.  I pray for relief from COVID-19.  I pray that we can return to the way things were before March.  I pray earnestly for my family.  It’s the one thing I can do.

 

Here are today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,097,000              280,139

US                       1,346,332                80,004

Virginia                  23,196                     827

Augusta County            64                         1

We ended the day by watching a movie that Ann had let us borrow, Crazy Rich Asians.  It was a break from our normal routine and television shows.

 

May 10, 2020

Today is Mother’s Day.  It is a Mother’s Day unlike any other I have experienced.  Alas, I couldn’t even go inside a store to buy Lynn a card.  I thought I had this problem solved.  Last Monday I submitted an order for a personalized card at Shutterfly.  I had previously ordered several photo items from this company.  The website said if the order was submitted by Monday it would arrive in time for Mother’s Day.  I kept checking all week on its progress.  On Monday is said “received.”  On Tuesday through Thursday it said “being created.”  On Thursday night it said “shipped.”  But when I checked the tracking on the shipment it said it would get here on Friday, May 15!

 

In lieu of that card, I created two cards of my own on Saturday using a couple of photos from my 50,000+ collection, card stock, and our HP color laser printer.  They came out OK and Lynn seemed very appreciative when she read them this morning.  She even showed them to Kay when she, Thomas, and Georgia had a Facetime session with her this morning and to Ann this afternoon.  Jim also called his mother today so she got Mother’s Day wishes from all her children and me.

 

She also received a present from the Hispanic family she’s helped out so much, the Aguirre-Jiminez family.  They left a bouquet of flowers for her while we were on one of our walks.  There are so many people who think so highly of Lynn!

 

The weather was much more cooperative today after a cold night.  It was sunny and fairly warm today with temperatures in the 60’s.  As a result we walked more than usual:  7.5 miles.  We did this in two shifts, one in the morning and one after dinner.

 

The afternoon was a good one for the Hanger family.  As planned, the staff at The Legacy put Mrs. Hanger in her wheelchair and rolled her over to her window then partially raised it.  Between 3:00 and 4:00 she had fourteen family visitors including her four children: Kay, Lynn, Bill, and Jane.  Three grandchildren came by:  Donna Carter, our daughter Ann, and Jenny McIlwain.  Three great-grandchildren were there:  Betsy with Ann and Luke and Tommy with Jenny and Adam.  Sandy Hanger, Darrell Miller, and I made the final fourteen.   People took turns going up to her window and chatting.  Social distancing was maintained.  Mrs. Hanger seemed very alert and well.  While Mrs. Hanger was getting her time with each family member the rest of us caught up on what was going on in our lives.  Everything worked out very well.

 

Later I commented to Lynn about how lucky she is to have had her mother with her for so many years.  Quickly doing the math, I commented that it had been 40 years since I was able to wish my mom Happy Mother’s Day.  She died in December, 1980.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom Hill.  To this day, I am still carrying your note in my wallet.  I do know that you love me, had high expectations for me, and we’ll see each other someday.

 

Ann hit the right spot with Lynn for Mother’s Day.  She had ordered an ice cream cake from Smiley’s but when she went to pick it up they had somehow misplaced or given it away.  So instead they gave her a gallon and a half of Lynn’s favorite ice cream, Death by Chocolate.  Plus they’re going to make her another cake this week.

 

We ate another great dinner tonight.  I grilled steaks, Lynn fixed salad and warmed up some leftover mushrooms we had from our Depot dinner on Friday night.  Add lima beans and you’ve got a feast.

 

Here are today’s grim numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,177,140              283,687

US                       1,366,915                80,769

Virginia                  24,081                     839

Augusta County            64                         1

 

A small ray of hope in the news is that scientists have found that a cocktail of three drugs already approved for other infections has been used to reduce the severity and length of COVID-19 in patients in Hong Kong.

 

Lynn and I together started and finished another project of hers this afternoon.  On our last Walmart order she got two sheets of poster board.  Next Saturday the community is going to have a drive-by at Nancy Metcalfe’s house to honor her husband Mark who died April 22.  This quarantine means that the only way a crowd can show their respects for one who has passed is to do it by means of an automobile parade by the person’s house.  So today Lynn and I cut out letters for our signs using her Cricut machine.  Then we neatly glued them onto the two poster boards. On one board it says “THE METCALFE FAMILY” and on the other it says “ONE WITH THE RIGHT CHEMISTRY.”  Mark was a chemistry teacher at Fort Defiance High School for thirty years.

 

Lynn told me several times today that this was a good Mother’s Day for her.  We did have one disagreement while walking but getting good advice from our lawyer–daughter Kay–resolved it.  Lynn does have a big heart–one of the things she did today was to order 72 cupcakes we’ll pick up tomorrow and take to The Legacy for the staff.  The accompanying note says:  For the staff at Legacy.  Thanks for all you do to keep the residents happy and safe!  From the family of Betty Hanger.

 

May 11, 2020

Another chilly day with highs in the low 50’s and lots of wind.  It didn’t stop us from taking our morning walk of 2.6 miles though we did bundle up a lot.  If I didn’t have walking and writing this blog I don’t know what I’d do.  As it is I’m bored between these two events, both of which happen a couple of times each day.

 

We did the pickup and delivery of the 72 cupcakes this morning.  Because no one is allowed inside The Legacy, Lynn couldn’t even see how they would be distributed to the staff there.  I’m sure they were appreciated.  Lynn later found out that her Mom got one of them.

 

I haven’t played tennis is over eight weeks.  Prior to this quarantine I was playing approximately three times weekly.  It’s such a shame that not only have I had to give up this game, I’ve had to give up the good comradery I had with the dozen or so men with whom I played.

 

Walking has given Lynn and me the chance to chat with many more of our neighbors than we usually did.  I guess that’s one good outcome of our pandemic.  As we’ve walked we’ve chatted with neighbors Curtis Sheffer, Pastor John Crawford at Mt. Pisgah UMC, Millie and James Davis, new acquaintance Lacey Michael, Bev Coffman, Larry Mezzoni, Bee and Janet Myers, Stephen and Beth Metcalfe, and Sharon Zaccaria.  We’ve exchanged greetings with many, many others whose names I don’t know.  We always wave at passing cars and get the same in return.

 

Our walking today included the 3.7 mile Leaport loop again.  We hadn’t done that hike in a few days so today we braved the cold and did it.  Our total for the day was a little over seven miles.

 

We had delicious leftover steak and lima beans for dinner tonight.  I also had cooked baked potatoes while we walked the loop.  But the highlight was dessert.  Lynn’s friend Cheryl Kent had dropped by some fresh strawberries from a local field.  Lynn fixed them with sugar and freshly whipped cream.  Man oh man!

 

Today’s news is more of the same.  The White House is trying to simultaneously push states to reduce some of their restrictions while two of their own staff members have come down with the virus.  At today’s press conference Trump told an outright lie when he said the coronavirus numbers were “down almost everywhere.”  He later stormed out of the conference after clashing with a few reporters.  The ABC reporter asked him did he think it was right that workers be required to return to work when they couldn’t get COVID-19 tests whereas everyone on his staff is tested daily.  Trump reminds me of the parent who tells his child to “do as I say, not as a I do.”

Today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,246,980              286,742

US                       1,384,033                81,703

Virginia                  25,070                     850

Augusta County            64                         1

 

I always get my daily statistics from two websites.  One is the Virginia Department of Health, which seems to underreport the number of cases in Virginia and Augusta County.  The other is a site named worldometers.info which has numbers somewhat higher than other sites.  For example, today the Johns Hopkins site has the US with 1,346,163 cases and 80,297 deaths.  Regardless, over 80,000 deaths in just three months is still cause for alarm, not cause for trying to return to pre-COVID-19 life.

 

I don’t care if malls open back up or not.  I’m not going there.  It will be a long time before I set foot inside a restaurant or department store.

 

May 12, 2020

I just saw a clip of Trump’s news conference yesterday.  His podium was surrounded by two HUGE signs saying “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN TESTING” suggesting that because of him the US is so well off in this battle against COVID-19.  The signs should say “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN DEATHS” or “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN CORONAVIRUS CASES” because these statements are true whereas his statement about testing is not.  The US has over 80,000 deaths; the United Kingdom is second in the world with a little over 32,000 and Italy is third with just over 30,000.  The only people in America who can be tested are those who show symptoms or are in high risk environments.  The average American who may want to be tested before returning to work cannot receive a test whereas those who work in the White House are tested every single day.

 

When he blew up and left this press conference it was because a female reporter, who happened to be Asian, asked him why he was making testing like a competition among countries instead of focusing on the fact that the number of deaths and infections was still growing.  He angrily responded that she should “ask China the same question.”  The news media quickly picked up on his prejudice toward Asians.

 

Here’s my ideal plan for returning to “normal” life.  My desire is to re-enter stores, stadiums, theatres, and restaurants when I know that there is a medicine that adequately treats coronavirus AND that it is readily available in Augusta County.  I’d love to see signs around Trump which say “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN COVID-19 TREATMENT.”

 

The morning walk was a little chilly but the wind wasn’t bad and the sun was out.  The temperature was around 47o.  When we walk I always wear my bright WVU jacket and hat.  The official WVU color is gold, of course, but Lynn insists they are yellow.  Either way they are easily seen by passing cars.  We haven’t had any close calls yet.

 

Governor Northram announced yesterday that the DMV sites around the state would be closed for another week despite the easing of other restrictions which begin later this week.  This is an issue with our grandson Henry who is now old enough to get his learners’ permit but can’t do so because he has to go to the DMV in order to take the test.

 

The government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before the Senate today.  Even he had to speak remotely from his own home quarantine.   He said the consequences of re-opening too soon is that an outbreak might be triggered that would be unable to be stalled. He said that a vaccine and a treatment might not be ready by fall when school would be scheduled to open.  He repeated his plea for states to follow general guidelines that call for areas to reopen slowly, and only if cases decline for 14 days. Many states have pushed back on the recommendations and reopened without following them, which Fauci said was a bad idea.

 

Fauci, in response to an attack from Republican Rand Paul who said Fauci was not “the end all” of wisdom about the virus, said “I am very careful, and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease.”  Instead of giving some false claim or definitive response about something he wasn’t sure of, he admitted that the science community was still learning about COVID-19.  An article I read afterwards from CNN news said “what the doctor did on Tuesday is best understood as a quiet rebellion against the know-it-all-ism that is a defining trait of Trumpism.”

 

I can really appreciate this attitude.  One of the things I like about my own physician, Dr. James LaGrua, is that he will readily seek the advice of a specialist instead of making a definitive call on my own health issues.  He referred me to the Rockingham Pulmonary Associates for treatment for my asthma and sent me to Blue Ridge Urological for prostrate treatment.  Like Dr. Fauci, and unlike our President, he does not try to be a know-it-all.

 

Trump’s COVID-19 lead spokesperson said that by fall there would be 50 million tests available per month.  I’ll believe that when I see it.  To date, fewer than 10 million tests have been done in the US since this pandemic started in February.

 

Lynn and I had a super treat today.  Ann stopped by with the Smiley’s Death By Chocolate cake that was supposed to be ready for her on Sunday for Mother’s Day.  It was ready today and was all of the following:  huge, delicious, appreciated, and eaten.  We only ate a small portion of it; Lynn cut and froze servings for future great desserts.

 

Today is supposed to be the last cool day this season.  I hope so.  We managed to walk over seven miles in all.  Our second walk of the day took us to Stewart Middle School then Fort Defiance High School.   Our third walk was after dinner when we walked to Mt. Pisgah UMC and back.

 

The data for today is as follows:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,335,821              292,301

US                       1,407,396                83,311

Virginia                  25,800                     891

Augusta County            64                         1

 

One bit of good news in these stats is that for the fourth day in a row Augusta County’s numbers have stayed the same.  I also heard today that Russia has taken over second place in the number of infections worldwide.  Of course, they are still way behind the US.

 

May 13, 2020

Today’s weather for walking was the best we’ve seen perhaps since we started walking two months ago.  The temperature for the morning walk was in the mid 50’s and there was no wind.  This has been the windiest spring.  It was really unusual to pass by the American flag pole on our way to Mount Pisgah UMC and see it dangling lifelessly.  Usually it is flapping in a horizontal position in whatever direction the wind is howling.

 

Before we walked we made a quick trip to The Legacy to return Mrs. Hanger’s flowers.  We had taken them because the last two nights had a freeze warning.  The weather forecast for the remainder of May doesn’t have any frosts or freezes in sight.

 

Yesterday I commented about the hideous signs that flanked Trump at his press conference saying that “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN TESTING.”  Today someone posted on Facebook that the US is 32nd in the world, just ahead of Belarus, in per capita testing.

 

One advantage of the quarantine is that Lynn and I have both been extremely healthy for the past eight weeks.  Neither of us has had a cold, sore throat, stomach virus, or anything else that we perhaps would have encountered had we been around other people.  There is some talk of people getting the “COVID 15” meaning they have added 15 pounds during the quarantine but actually I have lost weight.

 

Four years ago I weighed 220 pounds.  I was entirely overweight.  I had issues with reflux and aching knees.  Dr. LaGrua wisely told me that my health would greatly improve if I lost weight.  Lynn and I decided to lose weight together by reducing our portions.  It worked; we each lost 50 pounds.  I was able to keep my weight around 170 for the past three years.  Earlier this spring it went up a bit to the mid 170’s.  But since we’ve started walking for over two hours each day my metabolism has apparently increased.  For the past week I’ve dropped to around 165.

 

The population of Harrisonburg is around 50,000.  As of today, the city has 607 cases of COVID-19.  The population of Rockingham County is around 80,000.  It has 373 cases of COVID-19.  Combining the two, there are nearly 1,000 cases or 1 for every 130 people.  Compare that to Augusta County which has a population of 75,000 but has only 66 cases.  Staunton has a population of around 25,000 with 21 cases.  Waynesboro has a population of 21,000 and has 21 cases.  Combining these three, there are 108 cases for 121,000 people or fewer than 1 per 1,000 people.  You can see why we’ve avoided driving north!

 

Lynn took on a new job today.  For the first time in our 43+ years of marriage, she was my barber.  We borrowed hair clippers from Ann and she cut it this afternoon on our back porch in the warm sunshine.  I give her a grade of A for my haircut!  All barbershops in Virginia are currently shut down now but I’m not sure I’ll be going back to one now that she’s willing to do it.  We’ll have to invest in our own electric clippers, of course.

 

We did the Leaport loop as our second walk of the day.  Our total for the day was around 6.6 miles.  The temperature was in the mid to upper 60’s.  I don’t think I’ll enjoy walking in temperatures higher than that.

 

After writing just two paragraphs ago about our hesitation to go to Rockingham County we were really hungry for pizza tonight.  We had tried a pizza store in Staunton but didn’t like it so we returned to one of our old favorites, Vito’s, for a Soprano Pizza.  The Vito’s restaurant we went to was in Penn Laird, east of Harrisonburg, and it had a drive-through window so we didn’t have to leave our car in order to pick it up.  It was yummy!

 

Wednesday night is Zoom night in our family so at 7:30 we visited with each of our children and their families again tonight.

 

Today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,421,198              297,533

US                       1,427,739                85,041

Virginia                  26,746                     927

Augusta County            66                         1

 

May 14, 2020

Today was Walmart pickup day.  I commented to Lynn a while ago that when we were young, you got your own groceries but someone else filled up the tank at the gas station.   Nowadays, we fill up our own tanks but someone else gets our groceries and brings them out to us.  All in all it has worked OK for us, I have to admit.  Once again Lynn bought several boxes of saltine crackers which we took to Central UMC for the soup ministry.  Lynn also bought some groceries at Aldi’s grocery store which was done in a very safe manner.

 

It is reassuring to see people around here acting responsibly.  Every person at Aldi’s, employees and customers, wore a mask.  Every person we saw going into Walmart likewise was covered.  This is in contrast with Wisconsin where its Supreme Court overturned the Governor’s stay-at-home mandate and opened the state wide open.  There were pictures of Wisconsin bars packed with customers without a single face covered.  I predict that in a few days not only will their bars be filled but so will their hospitals.  Trump, of course, praised the Court.

 

I worked on two other tasks today that have been changed by COVID-19.  For over a decade I’ve gotten all my prescriptions filled at Costco in Harrisonburg.  I even did this when their pharmacy wasn’t in my drug plan’s list of approved pharmacies just because it was so convenient.  But their pharmacy is an in-store operation; there is no drive-through or pick up window.  With all the coronavirus cases in Harrisonburg we’re trying to avoid Costco so today I called and had all of my prescriptions transferred to Walgreen in Verona which does have a drive-through window.

 

The other task I did was to work on the Hill Family Scholarship.  This is the 40th year that my brother Butch, sister Mary K., and I have given a scholarship in honor of our parents, especially our Mom who was such a wonderful school counselor at Bramwell High.  Even though Bramwell High closed and merged with Montcalm High School decades ago, we’ve continued to give the scholarship.  It is always presented at the end-of-year senior awards ceremony and I usually go there to present it.  Thanks to COVID-19 causing schools to close this year, there will be no ceremony.  Nonetheless we wanted to give the scholarship again this year so I contacted my high school classmate Vickie Workman Rushbrook who has worked and volunteered at Montcalm High School for many years.  She conferred with the school counselor and sent us the name of a student deserving the scholarship, as she does every year.

 

I’ve now written a letter to the student and made arrangements to get a cashier’s check made out to her and the school she will be attending, Marshall University.  I sent the letter to Burch and Mary K. to edit before I get the check and mail both to the student whose name is Katlyn Williams.

 

The news reports that over 36 million Americans have now lost their jobs.  The Democrats are urging for another stimulus check to be sent to citizens while Republicans think the government has done enough and we should sit back and wait.  With this being an election year I’m sure most decisions are being made not necessarily in the public’s best interest but made to raise the administration’s and lawmakers’ best chances of being re-elected.

 

Our walking total for the day today was 7.86 miles.  Except for our two weeks in Italy we’ve never walked this much.  The weather was in the mid 70’s this afternoon–quite warm compared to earlier this month.  Tomorrow and Saturday are supposed to be even hotter.

 

An immunologist who testified today before Congress told them without a ramped up response moving forward, the U.S. will see the “darkest winter in modern history.”  He was particularly pessimistic about a vaccine being developed quickly.  He was also the Whistleblower who lost his job when he wouldn’t promote Trump’s worthless remedy, hydroxychloroquine, for COVID-19.

 

I bought a new tool today, a 3300 psi pressure washer.  I got it at Tractor Supply and didn’t have to go inside the store.  I’ve got several projects in mind for it once I figure out how it works.

 

I also made arrangements to have two of our five maple trees beside our driveway be taken down. One is mostly dead and its branches are directly over where I park the truck.  If I don’t have it taken down I’m afraid it will be on top of my truck some morning.  A contractor came out this afternoon and gave us a $800 quote for taking down both trees so we’re going to have it done.  Lynn called some friends of ours, Robin and Ronnie Brown, who have an outside wood furnace, who told us they’d be glad to come and get the wood from the trees.

 

Today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,520,092              303,030

US                       1,455,750                86,879

Virginia                  27,813                     955

Augusta County            70                         1

 

How can anyone claim that this pandemic is under control?  Day after day we see around 1,700 more US deaths.

 

May 15, 2020

This is the nine week mark since our quarantine began.  At least Lynn and I are still on good terms.  We’ve been together almost 24/7.  She is a patient woman.

 

One contentious point is coffee. I love it and would probably drink it three times daily.  She not only dislikes the taste, she hates the smell.  She would be happier to never smell it in our house.  I’ve always had it for breakfast so she’s used to that but when I’ve brewed a cup in the afternoon using my new Keurig coffeemaker she has not been happy with me.  I think I’ll try brewing it in the garage and drinking it on the back porch now that the weather has improved.

 

The weather forecast is wacky again.  Today and tomorrow the highs are supposed to be in the 80’s.  Next week there are a couple of days with projected highs in the 50’s.

 

WHSV reported that there will be 500 additional COVID-19 tests being given on a first-come, first-served basis in Rockingham County and Harrisonburg this weekend.  This will undoubtedly cause a spike in the number of identified cases in those areas.  There are already around 1,000 confirmed cases combined in those localities.

 

On the news tonight, forty eight states are easing quarantine restrictions yet none report 14 day drop in new cases which was the government’s barometer for when re-opening could begin.  The latest projection is that over 100,000 deaths will occur by June 1.

 

The President spoke at a press conference today not wearing a mask whereas everyone else there wore one.  He said that his goal was to develop, manufacture, and distribute a vaccine by the end of the year.  Others point out this is going to be a very difficult goal.

 

Again tonight there is worry about a child syndrome which develops in some children after they contact COVID-19.  Over 200 cases have been identified; three have died.

 

Also in the news tonight is the issue of the test accuracy.  Some of the tests give a high rate of false negatives.  The recommendation is that if you get a test and it is negative but you have symptoms you should get another test.

 

Potentially good news from Oxford today is that a vaccine developed there has worked in monkeys, preventing them from catching COVID-19.  Let’s hope it works in humans!  Human testing has begun there.

 

We walked twice today but I struggled a little during the second hike.  The temperature was around 80o and I was sore.  My feet and legs were fine but my back ached.  My posture has never been good; that could be part of my issue.  Our total miles for the day was around 5.6 miles, lower than usual for us, and I am to blame.

 

One of the reason I didn’t walk well in the evening was that I had worked a lot during the day.  I got the new 3300 psi pressure washer out of the box and worked with it for around 90 minutes.  First I cleaned off our newspaper boxes which were covered with decades of grime. The pressure washer worked great on them.  Then I cleaned off our entire front sidewalk.  Again the new washer worked well.  I did the job in shift so as to not run our well dry.

 

I also cut all of our grass this afternoon.  The forecast for the next several days has rain scheduled so I felt like it needed to be cut today.

 

For the second night in a row Lynn made a wine slushy for us to enjoy after dinner.  It included white wine, simple syrup, and frozen strawberries.  We loved the treat both nights.

 

The drink was a bright spot among the daily bad news:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,617,983              308,013

US                       1,481,904                88,404

Virginia                  28,672                     977

Augusta County            74                         1

 

May 16, 2020

The Democratic led House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion relief package on Friday but chances are slim that it will pass in the Senate.  Trump is against it, too.  This pandemic is not just a health issue, it is an economic and political one, too.

 

Interestingly, NASCAR has a race today with no fans in the stands.  I wouldn’t be there coronavirus or not!

 

The combination of other events, rain in the forecast, and heat tried to put a damper on our walking plans.  We still managed to get in three walks totaling 7.9 miles!  We spent 2.5 hours walking again today.  It feels good.

 

The big job for me today was to use the pressure washer to clean off the back porch.  It looks so much better!  It took me about 90 minutes to get the job done but the well help up and so did I.  I took before and after pictures which show the difference.  Like painting, though, every time you do one pressure washing job you see another which needs to be done.  I got all I had planned to do behind me but now I see that I need to wash the bricks on the outside of the porch, too.  This pressure washer is really good.

 

Today was the day for the drive-by parade to honor Mark Metcalfe.  At 11:30 we went to Fort Defiance High School to get in the lineup.  There were approximately 100 vehicles which is a wonderful tribute to a good man.  We processed from the high school to the Metcalfe’s house which is approximately 3 miles from the school.

 

After that we ran a couple of errands then returned home.  I used the pressure washer again, this time to wash our front porch.  Lynn worked on an embroidered mask.  All 300+ of her previous masks had just been sewn; now she’s working on using her fancy embroidery machine to make some with designs on the front.  She is so skilled!

 

Today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,707,913              311,948

US                       1,503,454                89,454

Virginia                  29,683                  1,002

Augusta County            82                         1

 

Wow, over 1.5 million cases in the US and over 1,000 deaths in Virginia.  We just heard today that a member of our church, Randy Lindamood, who lives in Rittenhouse Nursing home in Staunton, has tested positive for coronavirus.  Rittenhouse is just a few blocks from The Legacy where Lynn’s Mom resides.

 

The news tonight was more of the same.  Almost every state has eased restrictions.  In five states the number of new cases is still rising.  Some bars, parks, and beaches are full of people.  I’m so fearful that we’re still in one of the early innings of this pandemic, not in the eighth or ninth as some people are acting.

 

I’ve seen Facebook posts like one person who said the government couldn’t make her wear a piece of cloth over her face.  Well, the government can make you wear a piece of cloth over your private parts.  In a restaurant you must wear shoes.  I can’t believe people like this.  So selfish, so stupid.

 

Lynn’s high school class is supposed to have its 50th reunion this fall.  However, those planning the event are very right-wing and use Facebook to post their idiotic rhetoric frequently.  Today two of them called our Governor an asshole.  Northram is not perfect, but he is a doctor, believes in science, and has done a good job of keeping Virginia’s coronavirus outbreaks under control.  Yesterday at his news conference he said that the state had enough hospital beds, personal protective equipment, and anyone who had symptoms or had been close to someone just identified with the virus could be tested.

 

May 17, 2020

Since we haven’t been able to have a church gathering since mid-March, Pastor Won and Music Director Yi-Ping Chen have been putting a video on You Tube each week for morning worship services.  Each week they get a little better at the audio and video technicalities.  Today’s video was very professionally done.  It makes me all the less anxious to return to in-person worship.

 

I was able to do more pressure washing today.  The more I do the more I see to be done. Today’s major accomplishment was to use it to clean out my gutters.  I also washed our sidewalk and garage windows.  It did a great job.

 

The weather was again very pleasant for our morning 2.6 mile walk.  There was no wind, no sun, and temperatures in the 60’s.  In the afternoon we took a long hike, 4 miles.  We walked down Leaport Road to its intersection with Bald Rock Road then walked on Bald Rock for a half mile or so.  It was a shady walk alongside Middle River.  With yesterday’s heavy rains the river was quite high–almost up to the road.  This was the first time we’d walked on Bald Rock Road.  We walked until we were two miles from home.  Coming back home is tough–nearly all uphill–but we’ll still likely do this hike again because the shade and distance is right.

 

I decided to list several things which have been instrumental for me in getting through this pandemic.  Here they are in no particular order:

  • Lynn, of course. We’re still getting along well.  Without her company my misery level would be off the low end of the scale.
  • Writing this blog. This has been very therapeutic for me.  I can’t imagine that anyone will ever read it but that’s OK.  Each day I write and edit it in Word then copy and paste it to my website.
  • DISH TV. What we do without the news and other entertainment we get from our TVs?  At 3:00 AM last night Lynn let me know that our bedroom TV was not working correctly.  We tried to remedy it and even tried to get tech support because DISH advertises 24/7 support but were not successful.  Finally this morning Lynn got a technician on the phone who helped us get our connection working again.  Whew!
  • I’ve written each day about our hikes.  We walk for over two hours every day.  My legs no longer ache and I don’t get out of breath when we walk.  It has been very, very good for me.
  • Working internet and phone. E-mail, Facetime, Zoom, and my iPad games have occupied my time when I’m not doing anything else.  I’ve especially loved communicating with our family including our Wednesday night Zoom sessions.  Our internet connection isn’t blazingly fast but it works well enough to stream videos.  Our upload speed is especially slow but I only notice that when I’m uploading pictures to Flickr and I have taken very few pictures during this pandemic.
  • Household chores. The outside of our house looks better than ever now.  The grass has been cut, the bricks pressure washed, the bushes trimmed, and (some of) the mulch spread.
  • Great food. Nearly every dinner has been magnificent.  Tonight Lynn ifixed pancakes and bacon.  On my pancakes I had some Virginia Maple Syrup from our friends John and Joan Sayers’ farm in Highland County.  Lynn put some of her freshly made strawberry jam on hers.
  • Good sleep. I have been sleeping most of the time between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am each day (except when the TV doesn’t work at 3:00 am!)

 

Today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,793,084            316,341

US                       1,524,550                90,902

Virginia                  30,388                  1,009

Augusta County            84                         1

 

The rate of spread of coronavirus does appear to be slowing down but it is still way over the speed limit, in my opinion.  The number of US deaths is now around 1,500 daily instead of 2,000.   Virginia had only 7 deaths in the past 24 hours.  But if one of them is a relative of yours you wouldn’t feel like it had slowed enough.

 

This Sunday night had two special events in it.  First we met our friends Ann and Wes Ford for ice cream at Smiley’s.  Of course, I had salted caramel chocolate chunk.   So did Lynn.  We had a good visit with the Fords maintaining our social distancing.

 

Lastly, we had a Zoom meeting with our Covenant group.  John and Ginny Bauman and John and Eileen Myers joined us for a nice chat.  Tom and Connie Davis and Jim and Vicki Printy usually are on this Zoom session but didn’t join this time.

 

May 18, 2020

We’ve lived at this address since the summer of 1988.  The house was built in 1968 and owned then by Ralph and Elaine Reed.  The Reeds planted five maple trees along the driveway which have grown and created a very attractive entrance to our house, especially in the fall.  Thus the trees are 50+ years old.  Today two of the five trees were taken down because they were mostly dead.  The largest one is the 5th in from Leaport Road and overlooked where I park my truck.  It just had to come down because otherwise a storm could easily bring some huge branches or the entire tree down on the truck and possibly our cars, too.

 

It took three men and a bucket truck right at four hours to cut the trees down and clean up their mess.  They left the large logs for us because Ronnie and Robin Brown want them for their wood stove.

 

Today was also my day to do two jobs for Central UMC:

 

  • In the morning I counted and made the deposit for this past week’s offerings. Central needs an average of $5,000 per week to make its budgeted expenses.  Today the total offering was $2,450, $1,000 of which was from our neighboring church, Trinity Episcopal, for support of the soup ministry.  Central’s finances have been seriously wounded by this virus.  It seems that some people only give when they come to the sanctuary.  That’s sad.
  • My second CUMC job today was to pick up food from the Verona Food Bank and take it to Central for Wednesday’s Food Pantry. Again this week it took three of us in pickup trucks to get the entire load.  Lynn rode along and helped check things off when we got to Central.  There were lots of volunteers to make this happen.  That’s encouraging.

 

Virginia was one of eight states listed on the news this morning as having an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.  Also in the news is the story in California where public health officials have notified more than 180 people that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus at a religious service held in violation of the state’s stay-at-home order.  An  attendee at the service tested positive for the virus a day after the event.

 

Wow, J.C Penney has now filed for bankruptcy.  This department store has been around for 118 years.   I feel sure the one at the Staunton Mall will close as they reorganize under Chapter 11.   When we’ve been there it has seemed like they had more employees than customers.  The store at the Harrisonburg mall has been much busier.

 

After we got back from the Food Bank delivery, Lynn and I loaded the truck with trash and headed to Ann’s house to get theirs.  We got to see Henry, Gus, Betsy, Freddie, and Ann.  All looked really good.  Henry is so grown up now.  He has a good start to a beard and showed off how his vertical leap had improved over the summer by reaching above and grabbing the rim on their basketball goal.

 

The rain somewhat brought Lynn and me to a standstill.  I’ve got several projects to do but all are outside.  Lynn doesn’t have any project on the front burner now though she did pick up one today.  One of her friends, Cheryl Wright, stopped by the house with some material for Lynn to make masks for Cheryl’s friends.

 

We did manage to squeeze in a walk this morning, our 2.6 mile neighborhood hike.  The forecast for the remainder of the week, Tuesday through Friday, is for heavy rain.  Yuk!  It was particularly disappointing after dinner when the hourly forecast only called for cloudy skies; meanwhile, outside it rained without stopping.

 

Just when you couldn’t believe he’d do another stupid thing, President Donald Trump today told reporters he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he’s touted as a possible “game changer” treatment for COVID-19.  Fact is, it has not been proven to be effective against coronavirus whereas it has been linked to heart rhythm problems.  He said he’d been taking a pill each day for the past week and a half.  You might wonder if it has had any effect on his mind but it is already warped behind repair.  Trump said he was taking the drug as a preventative even though there is no scientific evidence that it can prevent or treat COVID-19.

 

Some good news about vaccines on tonight’s news.  An American company, Moderna, said all 45 of their test cases who took the vaccine produce the same level of antibodies as those who have had COVID-19.  They are saying their drug can be ready by the end of the year.

 

Today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,882,580              319,671

US                       1,546,419                91,764

Virginia                  31,140                  1,014

Augusta County            85                         1

 

May 19, 2020

Growing up, one of my favorite singing groups was the Carpenters who sang “Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down.”  That was certainly the case yesterday for me.  Not only was it a rainy Monday, it was the first day since mid-March that Lynn and I had not walked more than a couple of miles.  Today’s forecast was for more of the same.

 

Pre-COVID-19 Lynn and I would have walked on a rainy day at the Staunton or Harrisonburg mall.  Now there’s nowhere indoors we’d feel safe walking.  If the Staunton Mall were open it would probably be safe there because there was just about no one there even before the virus hit.

 

Our schedule for the next several days had virtually nothing on it and with the rain there was little hope for anything but boredom.  But I noticed on the weather map that this storm was moving in an unusual direction, northwest.  Our area was right on the edge of the storm throughout the day whereas places northeast of here looked to be in the clear.  Given our desire to walk, I looked for a good hiking location within a reasonable drive for us to take.

 

I found Shenandoah River State Park on the map.  It is a 75 minute drive from here.  The website showed many miles of trails to walk on and the weather map showed nothing but cloudy weather there the next couple of days.  We had never been to this park before.  It is north of Luray in Bentonville VA.  Important to me, I called the park and asked if their restrooms were open and was told that they were.

 

Lynn had a few chores to take care of including baking some bread so we opted for doing the park on Wednesday.  So tomorrow I’ll be writing about our experience there.

 

For today, we managed to get in three walks either during the light rain or between showers.  For us to get 6.5+ miles of walking in on a day in which the hourly forecast had the word “rain” every single hour, we did well.

 

We had disturbing news tonight:  an employee at The Legacy, where Lynn’s 100 year old mother resides, has tested positive for COVID-19.  The employee is quarantined at home. That’s all we know about the situation.

 

Today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 4,982,875              324,535

US                       1,570,583                93,533

Virginia                  32,145                  1,041

Augusta County            87                         1

I hope I’m not naive (that is, believing the data) but the number of local cases keeps going up but there is still only one person listed as dying from COVID-19.  If the fatality rate is 1% that’s not bad (unless you’re in the 1%).

 

May 20, 2020

It has now been one month that I have been writing this blog.  Though I’ve written a lot, the fact is, very little has happened during the month.  Everything is basically the same as it was on April 20 except there are many, many more cases of COVID-19 and a few quarantine restrictions being eased.  There’s still no end to this in sight, alas.  Life wasn’t fun on April 20 and it isn’t much fun now, either.

 

The plans to go to Shenandoah River State Park fell through as the weather forecast improved.  Rain was not forecast until 3:00 so we thought it was foolish to drive 75 minutes just to walk when we could walk in our neighborhood.  Plus we came up with several errands for the morning.

 

Our first errand was at Aldi’s grocery store in Staunton.  Lynn had a list of groceries to get there.  As I’ve said before, that store seems to be a safe place for her to shop in.  After getting the groceries we came home then headed to Waynesboro.  It turns out that there were some groceries that the Staunton Aldi’s didn’t have so we first stopped at the Waynesboro Aldi’s.  Then we drove to the Wells Fargo bank in Waynesboro where I got the cashier’s check for the Hill scholarship.  Not far away was Kroger’s for gas.  Then we drove to the house of her tutor student, Juan Pablo, whose birthday was today.  She had a card for him plus some cash and chocolate.  Our last stop coming home was at the Mount Sidney post office where I mailed the check and accompanying letter to the scholarship recipient as certified mail.

 

The weather this May has not been favorable.  Today’s high was around 53o which is 20 degrees below normal.  On our first walk of the day I wore a winter coat and winter toboggan.  We did the 3.7 mile Leaport loop.  At least it didn’t rain.

 

After our walk we treated ourselves to a delicious snack of Lynn’s Mother’s Day cake.  It rained a little but once it stopped we drove to the middle school for our second walk of the day.  We walked a little over 2 miles which made our total for the day close to six miles.  We quit just in time before it started raining again.

 

We use the app Dark Sky to get weather forecasts.  It gives you minute by minute predictions such as “rain starting in 13 minutes, ending 55 minutes later.”  It is usually pretty accurate.

 

One item we had ordered arrived last evening:  the new Apple TV.  With the new model (we also have the old one) we can watch the Disney+ channels plus Netflix.  I set it all up on our bedroom tv last night and we celebrated by watching the movie “Jersey Boys.”  We’ve seen the play a couple of times but the music was still good on the movie.

 

Betsy is still doing dance lessons this spring thanks to Zoom.  Unfortunately, the internet at her house isn’t great so the past two days she’s come to our family room in the basement so she can participate.  Lynn and I keep our social distance, of course.  I’m so glad she is still doing this.  She loves it and it gives her something active to do.

 

In the news today, the pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 325,000 people worldwide.  Over 4.9 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19 according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.  With an increase of 106,000 COVID-19 cases worldwide in the last day, the globe is experiencing its highest one-day increase since the outbreak began.  So we should re-open everything because we’ve got this disease under control, huh?

 

Today’s COVID-19 stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 5,069,110              328,854

US                       1,588,713                94,848

Virginia                  32,908                  1,074

Augusta County            88                         1

 

With the US number of death rising at over 1,000 each day there’s no doubt that the total will exceed 100,000 before the end of the month.  More bad news is that there is widespread flooding in several states.  In Michigan, for example, people are under quarantine orders to stay home yet their homes are being swept away by flooding.

 

Better news is that a study released today says that people who have had the virus and have its antibodies do have some sort of immunity.  It isn’t known for how long this lasts.  There are many tests on the market for antibodies but many of them give bad results.

 

Today was Wednesday so at 7:30 we did our weekly family Zoom.  Jim’s family wasn’t able to join us because he was tied up helping someone with a high water issue.  Roanoke has had a ton of rain this week.  It was good to see the others.

 

May 21, 2020

Another cold, rainy May day…high of 57o with rain nearly every hour.  We did manage to find a little time to walk and actually got almost 4.5 miles in using two separate hikes.  With the cold and mist it wasn’t much fun.

 

Actually our day started with two trips away from home.  We did our regular Thursday morning Walmart pickup at 7:30 then dropped off the usual saltine boxes at Central for the soup project.

 

Just as we got home we got a text from Jim asking us if we could run to Waynesboro to Harbor Freight and purchase two basement pumps for him then drive down I-81 to meet him.  It turns out that the house of his friends that he was looking after was taking on water.  Roanoke has been especially hard hit with the recent storm.  All of the Roanoke area stores were sold out of pumps as people scrambled to get rid of the water.  He was able to locate two in Waynesboro which were being held for us.

 

We immediately left and were able to get the two pumps.  We both went inside the store in case we had to purchase them individually and use his 20% off discount but it turned out that wasn’t the case.  However this did mark the first time in around eight weeks that I had been inside a retail store though it seemed very safe with people wearing masks and maintaining distance.

 

Soon thereafter we were headed south on I-81 to meet him.  We did so at the exit just north of Lexington.  He had been up since 3:00 AM as a neighbor of his friends had called him reporting that the Roanoke River which borders the friends’ house was rising.  His friends were out of town so he was left to care for their house.  He got one pump of theirs going but quickly realized that others were needed.  That’s why he had called the Waynesboro Harbor Freight and made the arrangements.

 

We later called him to see if they were working OK and he said one was fine but the other wasn’t working well but the situation seemed to be taken care of.  In the meantime, his own basement was taking on some water though he does have a sump pump to care for at least part of it.  He’s really having it tough this week and we feel very sorry for him.  I’m glad we were able to help him a little.

 

In the news tonight, Dr. Fauci said it is very likely that there would be a second wave of the virus but President Trump said the country would not close again.  The CDC said that the virus does not spread by touch nearly as much as by respiratory methods.  A new study by Columbia University said that up to 36,000 lives could have been saved had the US acted sooner.

 

President Trump visited a Ford factory in Michigan today.  Everyone in the plant had on masks except for him.  What an example!

 

Today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 5,188,041              334,012

US                       1,619,477                96,242

Virginia                  34,137                  1,099

Augusta County            85                         1

I’m not sure why Augusta County’s number infected went down from the previous day.  Virginia’s total was considerably higher today.  It seems that the Democrats were so good at starting the “coronavirus hoax” that it was able to infect over five million people in the world.

 

The extended forecast is hardly one to look forward to.  In the next 15 upcoming days there are zero days listed as clear.  Ten list rain as possible at least part of the time.  😦

 

May 22, 2020

The big news of the day is that my sister e-mailed me to say that our nephew, Vic, is engaged.  Vic is 45.  His fiancé Amy is 40.  Neither has been married before.  Vic is a really cool nephew and Amy is a great addition to our family.  Wonderful news!  They’re going to wait a year or so until this pandemic has passed to have the wedding.  It will be quite a gala. I hope we can attend.

 

Lynn and I have eaten some varied and delicious dinners during this pandemic.  We generally have the same thing two nights in a row since there’s just the two of us.  But the same compliments do not apply to our breakfasts nor lunches.  We eat exactly the same thing every day for both.

 

For breakfast, we always have toast.  Lynn puts avocado on hers and I put preserves on mine.  The only variety we have is what kind of bread she toasts.  Lately she has been making lots of sour dough bread which does make for tasty toast.  I always make iced tea for her and, of course, coffee for me.  My preserves lately have been strawberry which she made.  She made several pints of strawberry preserves so I’ll be eating that for weeks and weeks to come.  That works for me.

 

For lunch, again we eat the same thing.  Lynn only eats yogurt and she is very, very picky about what kind of yogurt it is.  It must be Chobani Flip Low-fat Greek Yogurt, Almond Coco Loco flavor.  She accepts no substitutes.  I eat cheap yogurt from Aldi’s and vary my flavors among peach, strawberry, blueberry, etc.  And I always eat an apple.  90% of the time I eat a Golden Delicious apple–the best apple there is, in my opinion. Sometimes I substitute a Pink Lady.  And I finish with a couple of cookies.  I’m addicted to that dessert.

 

The weather today was finally the way it should be in May:  highs in the low 70’s with lots of sunshine.  As a result, I did a good bit of outside work.  I used my weedeater all around the yard then hopped on my Husqvarna and got the entire lawn mowed.

 

The weather was also conducive to walking.  In the morning we did our 2.7 hike and in the afternoon we did the 3.7 Leaport loop.  Between we both did a good bit of walking in the yard and house.  After supper we tacked on another mile with a hike to Mount Pisgah UMC and back.   We ended up with eight miles traveled today.  Not bad for two old people!

 

For dinner we had chicken tenders which Lynn fried along with corn on the cob.  Plus, again we had a great salad topped with poppy seed dressing.  And since we were both hot from our afternoon walk, Lynn also made the wine slushies with white wine, frozen strawberries, and simple syrup.  You can see what I mean when I write that we have varied and delicious dinners.

 

The daily count:

Infected                   Died

World                 5,295,462              339,320

US                       1,643,585                97,590

Virginia                  34,950                  1,136

Augusta County            86                         1

 

I think you could say we had this under control if the number of cases was dropping but that is clearly not the case as these numbers show. Every day there are around 1,500 new deaths in the US.  We will likely hit the 100,000 mark before Memorial Day.

 

May 23, 2020

Finally, a beautiful day.  There was plenty of blue in the skies and the temperatures in the 70’s.  This is the way I remember May.  Too bad the month is almost over.

 

The weather was certainly good enough for a walk.  Our morning walk was a little longer than usual, 3.0 miles.  As I’ve written before, the only problem with walking around our neighborhood is that there is little shade.  Though the temperature was good, we still would have appreciated more shade as we walked today.

 

Lynn got news this morning that the father of one of her good friends had passed away.  Mr. Kyle lived at The Legacy and, pre-COVID-19, always ate dinner with Lynn’s Mom.  As we walked this morning we talked about one negative about living to be old–you have to learn to live with loss.  This is the third of Mrs. Hanger’s dinner mates who has passed away recently.  We’re not sure how she’ll take the news.

 

The weather was also good enough for mulching.  I made a dent in our huge driveway pile, spreading around 20 wheelbarrow loads around trees in our front yard.  The pile is still large.  My goal is to have an empty driveway by June 1.  I’ll probably end up transferring most of it to under the large maple tree in our back yard.

 

We still haven’t had Ann’s family over for dinner in months but at least we’ve been able to see them from time to time.  Last night Henry and Gus came over with Ann so they could have a Zoom session with the church youth group.  Ann had some work to do for her job a well.  Our internet connection is faster so they came here to get it all done.  We had a few minutes to chat one-on-one with Henry and Gus on our back porch.  Both boys are growing up.  I am superbly proud of them.

 

The Gutshall kids are lucky to have all four grandparents nearby and all four keenly interested and involved with their childhood.  I never knew two of my four grandparents, the Hill grandparents, and lost my maternal grandfather, Joe Cook, when I was just 12.  I was blessed to have been around my maternal grandmother, Frankie Cook, until she died in 1985.

 

The daily statistics:

Infected                   Died

World                 5,428,247              344,422

US                       1,666,829                98,683

Virginia                  35,749                  1,159

Augusta County            89                         1

 

We continued walking and walking today–our final tally was 8.6 miles made on three walks.  This doesn’t say so much for our athleticism as it does our boredom.  Lynn is especially bored right now.  You know we don’t have much to do when we end up walking over 2.5 hours in a day.

 

Lynn is such an amazing walker.  No part of her ever hurts.  I am frequently sore and tired. My back aches sometimes.  But she just keeps walking and walking and never complains about pain.  That’s what I mean when I say she has Hanger legs.

 

May 24, 2020 

One point of hope in our area is that there have been zero Augusta County deaths in the past month.  On April 23 there were 33 cases of COVID-19 and one death.  Now, a month later, there are 89 cases but still only the one death.

 

This was an uneventful Sunday morning.  After breakfast we did a few minor chores then took our morning walk, the 2.6 mile hike in our neighborhood.  The weather was very nice with the temperature around 70o.

 

After lunch our day turned to be quite a bit different.  Lynn wanted to go to the Michael’s in Waynesboro to buy some items that were on sale there.  As we turned into the parking lot we were both astounded by the huge line of people we saw.  The 60-100 people we saw standing in line weren’t for Michael’s, they were for Ross’ store.  The line went from Ross’ down the sidewalk past. Michael’s and on near the pet store.  The people were side-by-side, not socially distant, and 95% were without masks.  I remain totally at a loss for this behavior.  Why did so many people need to get in a cheap clothing store?  Lynn even found on line that the store was allowing 100 people at a time in.  That alone would make it crowded without the mass of people waiting outside.  And why weren’t people wearing masks and staying six feet apart?  I guess they were just following our President’s example.

 

Lynn was able to pre-order her items from Michael’s so they were ready when we pulled up to the store but she still wanted to go in to buy an American flag for our front porch.  The one we have is quite tattered.  She was able to get the flag and her pre-order in a very safe manner.  Unlike the line outside the Michael’s door waiting for the Ross store, she reported that everyone inside Michael’s was wearing a mask and staying apart.

 

Once her shopping was done we took advantage of being in Waynesboro to check out the South River Greenway.  The Greenway is a one mile multi-use paved path that runs beside South River.  We walked up and back, adding two miles to our daily total.  It was a very pleasant walk and completely level, something we’re not used to.

 

We got back home just in time to beat an afternoon shower.  Lucky us!

 

We had spare time in the afternoon so we watched a Netflix special documentary “Becoming” about Michelle Obama.  She was a great first lady with so much knowledge and class.  We haven’t seen anything like that since 2016.   We also watched a Netflix movie last night “The Wrong Missy.”  It was somewhat funny but I wouldn’t recommend it.

 

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day to honor those who died in military service.  My mother and father each had a younger brother who died during World War II in the Pacific.  Mom’s brother was Tech Sgt. Joseph Donald Cook, an airplane pilot who went down in Guadalcanal in 1942.  Dad’s brother was Sgt. Howell “Skee” Hill who died during the invasion of Iowa Jima in 1945.  Both were in the U.S. Marines.

 

COVID-19 is raging in Brazil now.  Travel from Brazil to the US has now been halted.  Guess where Lynn and I were scheduled to travel to this coming September?  We have until this coming Saturday to cancel this trip without penalty.  This will be an easy decision for us.  Maybe in 2021?

 

Today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World                 5,487,354              346,255

US                       1,684,735                99,267

Virginia                  36,244                  1,171

Augusta County            90                         1

 

Our third and final walk of the day was a hike around the course at Stewart Middle School.  We did a few variations of the track and ended the day with seven miles under our belts.

 

May 25, 2020

I made a prediction to Lynn while we were walking this morning that I want to put into writing.  I predict that by November 3, Election Day, Trump will announce that a vaccine is ready for Americans.  Now I’m not saying that there will be a successful vaccine by then, I’m just saying that Trump will claim there is one so he can win the election.  Furthermore, I predict that he will name the vaccine the Trump Vaccine.  He’ll want to take credit for it just as Jonas Salk gets credit for the polio vaccine.  He’ll say that his Operation Warp Speed is what made it happen and will fail to mention the immunologists and researchers who actually do the work on it.  According to all I’ve heard since this race for a vaccine started, it is highly unlikely that an effective one can be developed by that time but that won’t stop him from claiming that one is there thanks to him.

 

Such an announcement would also supercharge the economy, something he is definitely trying to do.  After all, his only field of success in the first three years of his presidency has been the stock market though it was already trending upward before he took office.  His claim to Make America Great Again, like his mantra to Drain the Swamp, has not even come close to fulfillment.  His motto should have been Make America Hate again.

 

We had a very pleasant walk for our morning hike today.  We did the 2.6 short walk we frequently take in the mornings.  Both of us don’t like to be too far away from our bathrooms when we take the morning walk.  The afternoon and evening walks suit our bladders better.

 

Two things I have pretty much abandoned during our quarantine are tennis and playing the piano.  I wrote on May 11 about how strange it was to not be playing tennis when I’d been playing three times a week prior to the pandemic.  I just haven’t felt like playing the piano.  Before the pandemic, I would play the piano for our Sunday School class every Sunday morning and occasionally filled in for Central’s morning worship services.  In fact, I had agreed to play the piano once per month for Augusta Street United Methodist Church’s services though this never happened because the quarantine hit before I had a chance to play there.  Augusta Street is a black church in downtown Staunton.  Earlier this spring I had helped some of our Central United Methodist Men do some work at Augusta Street when someone there mentioned that they had no one to play the piano.  I don’t think they usually had more than 15-20 attend on a given Sunday morning.  Anyway, I agreed to play on the first Sunday of each month.  We were out of town on the first Sunday of March then COVID-19 hit.

 

Today might have been a holiday but I worked my butt off.  The huge pile of mulch in our driveway is no more!  I loaded and moved over 35 wheelbarrow loads today.  Most of it went under our large maple tree in the backyard.  I also mulched under our huge oak tree in the front yard.  Yippee!  My back is so, so sore.  I still have some spreading to do under the maple tree but that should not be hard.

 

It was quite hot when I came in so I drank a huge glass of water.  For most of my life, I was not a water drinker.  I took it up deliberately three years ago when I desired to lose weight.  I still don’t drink much because my prostate would just interpret that as another reason why I should be in the bathroom.  Our water is well water.  It always tastes great; today it was especially good.  Adding to my enjoyment were ice cubes from our new refrigerator.

 

Yes, today I’ve enjoyed three of the things I like about 296 Leaport Road:  the water, the oak tree in the front yard, and the maple tree in the backyard.  Oh, I’m fine with our house, too.  It’s no mansion but suits me just right.  I’ll quote my Dad here…my next planned move is six feet under.

 

When I worked for Rockingham County Public Schools I got to know one of the School Board members pretty well, Lowell Fulk.  Lowell is a devoted Facebook user with multiple posts each day.  Today he reposted a note from a JMU biology professor, James B. Herrick, which follows.  This just shows that I am not the only one who believes this pandemic is far from over:

This is just a reminder that, with regard to the new coronavirus, very little has changed. There is no cure, no vaccine, no very effective treatment. In many places we have succeeded in flattening the (exponential spread) curve sufficiently that our health care system hasn’t been overwhelmed. But the virus really has hardly begun its spread. For example, Northern VA and the DC metro area is the new number one hot spot in the country, with cases rising rapidly (for still unknown reasons). And the virus is just beginning its spread into rural areas. Remember, right now there’s essentially nothing but our behavior that can slow this. It’s not going away.

In my area for example, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, cases are still rising. My friend, an OB-GYN, told us today that he currently has two COVID positive mothers in the hospital and in labor. One of them got it from attending church (defying the law here, apparently) two weeks ago, and her father-in-law is now in the ICU here. And these are only a few of the many currently in our little local hospital.

We’ve got to be very very careful with this. The U.S. botched the run up to the nationwide lockdown in March: sitting on our (the leaders’) hands through January and February cost thousands of lives, apparently. Now the United States — which leads the world in the number and quality of infectious disease microbiologists, virologists, epidemiologists, etc. — has the dubious distinction of having by far the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world.

Please, don’t be stupid. Be patient. This will be a marathon… .

I like the way he thinks.

 

I don’t remember a day in which I’ve done so much physical work/exercise.  Besides all the wheelbarrow loads of mulch I moved today, I also tilled the garden to make ready for the 20 tomato plants Lynn and I bought today at a nursery.  It was hot in the afternoon so we decided to drive and see if we could find tomato plants at this late date. It turns out that a nursery near Fishersville had lots of them so I prepared the garden for them.  I hope to get them planted tomorrow.

 

Lynn and I also walked eight miles today.  As usual, we did it in three sessions.  The afternoon session was the 3.7 mile Leaport loop.  It was about 77 degrees when we did that one so we were whipped when we got back shortly before dinner.  After dinner we did a short one mile cool-down walk at Stewart Middle.

 

Today’s numbers show why Virginia is still considered one of a handful of states which has not seen a drop in its COVID-19 numbers:

 

Infected                   Died

World                 5,582,404              347,563

US                       1,706,190                99,804

Virginia                  37,727                  1,208

Augusta County            93                         1

 

Tonight I found an article on the website http://missingmarines.com/joseph-d-cook about my uncle Don who died in World War II..  Here is the text:

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

 

May 26, 2020

This day was so busy I didn’t have any time to write until bedtime.  That’s unusual for this pandemic era.

 

Much of the day was spent doing things for Central United Methodist Church.  It began with counting the income at 9:00.  Ordinarily Sam Richardson and I do this on the Mondays after the 3rd and 4th Sundays of the month.  But this month Memorial Day was the 4th Monday so the banks were closed and we couldn’t make the deposit until today.  So we met and got the deposit done.  Without having Sunday services (11 consecutive weeks now without services) we only have to deposit a handful of checks that were mailed in.  Some of us choose to make our offerings online but, to be honest, many apparently choose to not give when there’s no collection taken.  That’s sad.

 

I got back in time to take a morning walk with Lynn.  We did our usual 2.6 mile hike.  The weather was warm but not too hot.

 

We didn’t take our second walk until after dinner.  That’s unusual for us but the afternoon was filled with activities.  We walked the Leaport loop and ended up the day with 6.85 miles.  I’ll admit that this walk was tough for me even though we’ve walked that loop more than 30 times in the past few months.  The hills seemed especially long this evening.  At least there was shade on the first 2/3 of the loop.  The last mile was not easy.

 

I’m not going to complain and complain about my aches but I will say that my back was quite sore tonight, probably from the mulch work I did yesterday.  My legs don’t seem to mind the long walks but my back hurts.

 

I had two CUMC meetings this afternoon.  I was in charge of the first one, the Finance Committee, which met via Zoom.  For the second, the Church Council, I am the secretary so I have to try to keep up with the minutes while Zooming.  I always like to send the minutes out for people to edit immediately after the meeting and was able to do so again today.

 

I only did a few outside jobs today.  I planted our 20 tomato plants this morning before going to Central to count.  Tonight I watered them well.  I also hosed off the driveway where the mulch had been sitting for weeks.  It is pretty much back to normal now.

 

Our hearts are with our friend Sandy Porterfield tonight who is waiting to check into a hospital in Greenville NC where she is to undergo a spinal tap and possibly other tests.  It is a scary time for her and her husband Paul and all of their family.  We’ve spent a lot of time with the Porterfields in the past three years and hope her tests show nothing major.

 

I barely caught the news today so I can’t report what’s new.  The news has been so similar for the past eleven weeks that I can’t imagine it was much different this evening.

 

Here are the coronavirus statistics for the day:

Infected                   Died

World                 5,678,357              351,666

US                       1,725,489              100,573

Virginia                  39,342                  1,236

Augusta County          100                         1

 

As you can see, there were two milestones reached today.  America’s death total topped 100,000 according to http://worldometers.info.  The CDC says the death total is 98,261 but either way it is approximately 100,000,  The other milestone is that Augusta County hit the 100th infection.  This still pales in comparison to neighboring Rockingham County which has 478 cases and 6 deaths plus Harrisonburg City which has 742 cases and 21 deaths.

 

President Trump is hell bent on opening up the country.  He tweeted today that the stock market was up and “states should open up ASAP.”  Can he not read that 100,000 Americans have died because of this virus?  Does he not care?  Why does he constantly ignore the advice of epidemiologists and other medical experts?  Trump also continued to threaten to Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, that if he doesn’t guarantee “within a week” that restrictions in the state will be lifted by August, the Republican National Committee might move its 2020 convention to another state.  He wants to have a raucous convention when he is nominated as the Republican candidate.  He doesn’t want social distancing to keep his convention safe; he is more interested in having it like a loud car race.

 

May 27, 2020

Today began with another round of pressure washing.  I discovered a few places on our brick that I had overlooked the last time I used the washer so I got it out early and took care of these places.  I was finished by 9:00.

 

The morning was great for walking.  We hiked our normal morning walk.  In the early afternoon we did the Leaport loop.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t as big a chore today as it was last evening.  I don’t know if it was the time of day, the fact that I didn’t do as much physical work before, or a change of shoes, but for some reason the hike didn’t hurt like it did yesterday.  I waited until after the walk to do my outside work which involved cutting the grass.

 

I’m trying to get our back yard to look better because we’ve invited our Covenant group at Central, four other couples, over Sunday night for a socially distant meeting.  We told them that in order for all of us to be safe, it was a BYOE meeting:  Bring Your Own Everything (chairs, snacks, drinks, etc.).  We’ve already heard back from three of the four that they’ll be here.  The weather forecast looks good for a back yard get-together.

 

We officially moved our Brazil – Argentina vacation scheduled for September 2020 to 2021 today.  Right now all travel to Brazil is banned as that country is experiencing a horrible outbreak of COVID-19.  Like everything else, this vacation will just have to wait.

 

By every count the US total deaths from COVID-19 passed 100,000 today.  ABC news tonight highlighted the lives of some of them:  a high school football coach, a five year old Kindergartener, an elderly Jewish lady who had survived the German concentration camps, a US army veteran and automotive engineer, a black nursing instructor, a Texas police officer, a mother who gave birth but didn’t live to meet her daughter, a minister, a Verizon field technician, a paramedic, and a 100 year old man who lost his twin brother in 1920 to the Spanish flu pandemic.  So tragic!

 

Dr. Fauci said he thought it was possible to have a vaccine by the end of the year.  But we’re a long, long away from then.  It took just three months for 100,000 people to die; there are still seven months left in 2020.

 

Today’s counts:

Infected                   Died

World                 5,780,168              356,778

US                       1,744,931              102,055

Virginia                  40,249                  1,281

Augusta County          102                         1

 

Virginia is one of fourteen states in which the number of cases has not started decreasing.

 

This is Wednesday so the day ended with our weekly family Zoom.  Ann’s family couldn’t join but the others were there.

 

Our walk total for the day was 8.0 miles including a couple at the middle school after dinner.  Again, not bad for two old people.

 

May 28, 2020

Our friend Ronnie Brown stopped by to get some of the wood from our downed maple trees early today.  He cut the larger pieces while I loaded onto his truck.  He got about half of it; the remaining pieces are so large he’s going to have to bring his splitter back next week in order to get them to manageable size.

 

With our Covenant Group coming over Sunday night, I saw the need to improve the back of our house a little more so today I attempted to patch a few spots in our back porch and wall concrete using a concrete patch tube (like a caulking tube) from Walmart.  I also raked up a bunch of leaves which were outside our basement door.

 

This was done after our morning walk (the usual 2.6 mile hike) and a trip to three grocery stores.  We had curbside pickup orders ready at Walmart and Kroger.  These were scheduled early so Lynn could be at Aldi’s in time for the senior hour.  As usual, she was the first one in the door.

 

We’ve been coordinating a favor for friends of ours.  John and Eileen Myers moved to Staunton a year or so ago.  John chose Central UMC as his church; Eileen is Catholic.  John has been very regular in attendance, support, and volunteering at church.  Two days ago Eileen fell and broke her arm in two places.  Surgery was this morning.  We made arrangements with them to bring their dinner to them from a Staunton restaurant of their choosing–New York Flying Pizza.  They’re part of our Covenant Group and we hope they will be able to come Sunday night.

 

Other friends of ours are on our minds today, too.  I wrote on May 26 about Sandy Porterfield scheduled to go through some tests.  She checked into the hospital earlier this week and has had a CT scan, spinal tap, and COVID-19 test.  She is having a cerebral angiogram today.  She’s been texting with Lynn all week and reports that all tests have come back negative thus far.  This morning we called her husband Paul to see how he was doing.  Of course, with the pandemic he isn’t even allowed to visit Sandy in the hospital.  He reported that he is doing fine and hopes to bring her home tomorrow.  They live in Grifton, NC.

 

Today is hot.  The low temperature for the day is supposed to be 70o and the high 83o.  With that forecast, we elected to turn the house air conditioner on for the first time this year.  It feels great inside now.  This will probably make it tougher on us to head outside to walk in the future.

 

Our world is changing.  At one point we got three newspapers delivered here early each morning:  Staunton News Leader, Waynesboro News Virginian, and Harrisonburg Daily News Record.  The Waynesboro newspaper quit delivering to our area a while back.  The Staunton Leader still delivers but has increased its cost astronomically.  The DNR has come to us daily at a reasonable cost.  For the past several years it is the only paper we’ve received each morning.  In today’s mail we had a letter saying they were going to start delivering our newspaper to us via mail each day.  This means we’ll get the paper much later in the day since our mail usually comes around 2:00 pm.  But at least it is supposed to be same-day delivery.  We’ll see….

 

Our governor has announced that beginning tomorrow, May 29, the has issued an executive order which requires that all patrons in the Commonwealth aged ten and over shall when entering, exiting, traveling through, and spending time inside the settings listed below cover their mouth and nose with a face covering, as described and recommended by the CDC:

  • Personal care and personal grooming businesses
  • All brick and mortar retail businesses, including both essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail businesses
  • Food and beverage establishments
  • Entertainment or recreation businesses. Face coverings shall also be required when patrons are outdoors at entertainment venues if a distance of six feet from every other person cannot be maintained.
  • Train stations, bus stations, and intrastate public transportation, including buses, rideshares, trains, taxis, and cars for hire, as well as any waiting or congregating areas associated with boarding public transportation.
  • Any other indoor place shared by groups of people who are in close proximity to each other. This restriction does not apply to persons while inside their residence or the personal residence of another. Face coverings may be removed to participate in a religious ritual.
  • State or local government buildings when accessed for the purpose of securing public services, with the exception of students in daycare centers or participating in-person classes in K-12 education or institutions of higher education.

The executive order also states that all employees of essential retail businesses shall wear a face covering whenever working in customer facing areas. Enforcement of this order will be by the Virginia Department of Health, not by local police officers. Any willful violation or refusal, failure, or neglect to comply with this Order is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.  The exceptions are when a person is eating or drinking, using exercise equipment, people who are communicating with the hearing impaired, and anyone who has a medical condition that would prohibit wearing a mask.

 

I wonder how long it will take before there are demonstrations against this order?

 

We were bored this afternoon so I started looking online to find us a shady place to walk.  I found the Augusta Springs Wetlands in the George Washington National Forest, a 35 minute drive from here.  Its main trail was listed as handicap-accessible.  We decided to give it a try.

 

The main trail was short, only 2/3 of a mile.  However, it was a wonderful trail.  Much of it was on plank-like bridges over the wetlands.  There were multiple stations with information posted about the animals you might see.  It was shady and level–great for a hot day.  As we walked around the main trail we noticed two terminals for another trail called the Upland trail.  On a map we saw that this trail was about 1.3 miles so we opted to take it.  The trail itself was appropriately named–it went uphill a good bit.  The bad part was that we’ve had a wet May and much of the trail was muddy.  Lynn had on new tennis shoes so you know that didn’t sit well with her.  Fortunately, in my car I had a container of soapy water and paper towels so when we got back I cleaned her shoes for her.  We did end up walking a good bit and the weather was fine though hot.

 

Interestingly we got a call while hiking from our travel agent at AAA.  He said he had an offer from the parent travel company about our canceled Puerto Rico trip.  He e-mailed it to us.  Basically it said we could cancel and get our money back less some fees or we could re-book for 2021 and receive a 25% bonus. We had already planned to rebook for 2021 so this made it even sweeter.  We’re to call him back tomorrow; it seems like a no-brainer to us.

 

We got back just in time to get a call from John Myers that he and Eileen had just returned home from her surgery, so we called in their order to the pizza shop and added a pizza to the order for us.  John was much appreciative for this; Eileen was still recovering so we didn’t see her.  She had to undergo a general anesthetic for the operation.

 

When we got home Betsy was finishing up her dancing in our basement.  We ate some of the pizza then decided it didn’t compare to our favorite Vito’s so we gave the rest of it to Ann for her family.

 

We had some good news this afternoon that Sandy Porterfield’s tests had come back all negative for issues.  She is to conference with her doctor tomorrow morning then come home.

 

After our pizza we still had time for a third walk so, as usual, we did it at Stewart Middle School.  We ended up with 7.65 miles today.

 

The daily figures are:

Infected                   Died

World                 5,900,907              361,776

US                       1,768,461              103,330

Virginia                  41,401                  1,338

Augusta County          105                         1

This week Virginia’s deaths trended upward.  Fortunately, this didn’t apply to Augusta County.

 

Joe Biden had a short tweet today:

100,000+ lives lost across the country

1,700,000+ confirmed U.S. cases

40,000,000+ unemployment claims filed

Donald Trump has failed our nation.

May 29, 2020

One thing I like about being healthy is that I have ambition.  When I’m not feeling well I just don’t have the desire to do much but when I feel good like today I can knock off project after project.  Today, between walks and meals, I did a good bit of touch-up painting on the back side of our house (so it will look good for our visitors on Sunday night) then I filled the spray canister twice with weed killer and sprayed under the maple tree, around the house and playset, and around the tennis court.  Afterwards I weeded out our new tomato garden then pulled the extensions cords down to the tennis court and used my blower to get the court and surrounding fence free of debris.  I also did some vacuuming as requested by Lynn and swept the garage corridor to our door.

 

In just two weeks we’ll celebrate 44 years of marriage.  It took me years and years to learn one easy secret of a happy marriage:  when you have a list of things to do always do the ones she’s requested first.  That way they don’t get pushed to the back burner, undone, and an argument begins.  It doesn’t take any longer to do your chores this way.  Today, for example, when she asked me to get the vacuum I put down whatever I was fooling with and immediately got it.  I even offered to vacuum the living room and she was fine with that.  Later she asked me to bring up the wooden tv trays for Sunday night and I immediately did so.   No argument, no real extra work on my part, and happy ending.

 

I’m assuming that she won’t read this (she never does unless I ask her to) so i can write that I also spent a good bit of time today finding a good anniversary card (actually I ordered two) on Hallmark’s website.  It is so much easier to find them online than go into a store and look through their limited selection, pandemic or not.  They should get here a week before our anniversary so I’ll even be on time with this.  I also made her one since the ones I made for Valentine’s Day seemed to go over well.

 

I really don’t know how to express my gratitude to Lynn for all she’s done for me for these 44 years.  She is a gem of a wife.  She is smart, pretty, talented, industrious, and has a wonderful heart.  How did I ever manage to hook up with someone this good?  We have some incompatibilities such as coffee but basically we get along very, very well.  Being locked up this close to someone for twelve weeks is certainly a test of marriage.  I think we’ve passed the test.  Lynn is exceptionally clean, friendly with everyone, and has a magnificent memory.  If only she could forget some of my errors over these 44 years!

 

We officially rebooked our Puerto Rico vacation for 2021 today.  The travel company is actually giving us a 25% bonus for doing so as opposed to canceling the trip.  We’re taking it for granted that by this time next year the pandemic will be well in hand.  That’s a big IF given the last four months.

 

We ordered some lilies to be taken to Sandy Porterfield today since she’s coming home.  I’m not real sure what her final diagnosis was but at least the tests already run apparently came up with nothing significant.

 

The country is in disarray today over the brutal police killing of a black man in Minneapolis.  The cop knelt on the man’s neck while being videotaped with him begging for air.  It took three days for that policeman to be arrested.  In the meantime there have been major protests in many cities.  In some cases, buildings have been burned, police have doused protesters with tear gas, and the National Guard has been called in.  It reminds me of the Watts riots of years ago.  And what did our President do to help bring peace?  He tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”  Twitter classified the post as violent.

 

There are some things that I knew would be coming with old age:  forgetting things, prostate issues, arthritis in my fingers, and going to bed early.  But one thing I did not anticipate is having thin skin.  It seems like I am always wearing bandaids now.  If I bump into something the wrong way, shave too quickly, or scratch an itch too hard I start bleeding.  Lynn has had to treat many of my clothes to get rid of blood stains.  Today, for example, I have two cuts–one on my arm and one on my leg–from encounters I had with something that I don’t even recall.  I’m not complaining too much; this is an inconvenience not a serious problem.

 

Here are today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World                 6,026,091              366,415

US                       1,793,263              104,539

Virginia                  42,533                  1,358

Augusta County          105                         1

 

It’s hard to find good news in these figures, especially given that there are now over 6 million people in the world infected with COVID-19.  The bright spot is that Augusta County had no change from the previous day and Virginia had “only” twenty more deaths though the state did have more than a thousand new cases.

 

Infectious disease experts from the Emory University School of Medicine are warning that given the current rate of deaths per day, it is possible the U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus could double by September as restrictions are lifted throughout the summer, and Americans begin to congregate again.  Several other studies had widely varied predictions.

 

Lynn and I managed to walk three times today.  Our first walk was the typical Home-Mt. Pisgah-Leaport Road 1 mlle – Home hike of 2.6 miles.  Then we didn’t walk again until late afternoon when we drove to Grottoes to walk at the town park.  It was a nice 1.4 mile hike on level ground around the perimeter of the park on a gravel trail.  There was some shade.  Our third walk was after dinner when we walked around Stewart Middle’s track plus Fort Defiance High School’s track.  We also circled both schools and ended up the day with 7.3 miles.

 

Our dinner tonight was take-out from one of our favorite hamburger places:  the Old Schoolhouse Food Truck at Valley Pike.  I had my usual Philly Cheesesteak Burger and Lynn had a Jalepeño Bacon Burger.  We split an order of fries.  We actually ate on our back porch and each had a refreshing Smirnoff’s Ice malt beverage.

 

We ended the day by watching a movie on Netflix, The Last Laugh.  It was OK.

 

May 30, 2020

Bummer.  Today was a beautiful day and we both had little we had to do. My only chore of the day was going to the dump.  Lynn’s was making the pepperoni rolls.  We both got them done early.  It would have been a perfect day to hop in the car and head to one of our favorite places.  But overnight travel outside the area is still something we haven’t done since the pandemic began.

 

We are considering it, though.  We’ve done some checking into hotel policies, state parks, places to walk, places to eat, etc. in both the Abingdon VA and Morgantown WV areas.  Both are favorites of ours.  With our anniversary coming up in less than two weeks, we think we might try one of them, probably Abingdon.  We didn’t make any definite plans yet but it looks like we might try this.

 

We did our usual morning walk this morning earlier than usual.  The weather was nice with temperatures in the low 70’s.  Our after lunch walk took us back to Grottoes Park.  We did two laps around the 1.4 course making our total 5.3 miles by 1:30 pm.

 

While we were walking we had extraordinarily good news.  My nephew Victor DeLeo is 45 years old, never married.  On May 22 I wrote in this blog how my sister Mary Katherine called with the exciting news that he had proposed to his girlfriend, Amy Sullivan, and she said yes.  Amy is 40.  Well today Mary K. called and said that Amy is 11 weeks pregnant.  This is especially good news for my sister because she’s still in remorse over the loss of her husband of 50 years, Denny, who died in a tree cutting accident last June.  Now she has something to really look forward to.  Vic is a really nice guy and Amy is such a good match for him.

 

Want to see two old people lick their plates, literally?  Serve them some Smiley’s Death by Chocolate ice cream cake.  No kidding, it is that good and yes, we do lick the plates.

 

Lynn made pepperoni rolls for us today.  We’ll have them tonight and tomorrow.  They will be good snacks to have when our Covenant group comes over.  Yum!

 

Lynn reposted this on Facebook today:

Trump promised to make America Great Again.  Four years later…pandemic…recession…mass unemployment…riots.  Following that was a picture of Trump with the caption, “How am I doing?”

 

We drove back to Grottoes in the afternoon–our third trip there in two days.  It is only a 20 minute drive.  This time we went to Grand Caverns regional park because they have a shady walking trail like the Grottoes park.  The one at Grand Caverns is a little shorter, about 0.9 mile, but is quite shady.  Like the one a few miles away in Grottoes, it runs along the South River for part of the loop.  So by 4:00 pm we had accumulated 7.3 miles.

 

I have two questions in my mind.  One, what would we have done if this pandemic had started in the winter?  As it is, the weather has been good for walking but it certainly isn’t during the winter.  Furthermore, the number of hours of daylight are a lot less then.  I guess we are lucky it started in March.

 

The second question is related:  what will we do this coming winter if this pandemic is still going on?  Right now we’ve got no possibilities for indoor exercise.

 

You can tell we are bored.  Today we walked FOUR times, a record total of 10 miles, over 24,000 steps.  We walked for over three hours.  Our last walk today was twice around Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton.  The road there had been recently paved so walking was easy.  Also, there are no real hills in Gypsy Hill Park.

Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World                 6,149,733              370,497

US                       1,816,122              105,548

Virginia                  43,611                  1,370

Augusta County          109                         1

 

Virginia only had twelve deaths since the previous day so that’s better than in the past.  It is still mind boggling that soon there will be over two million cases in the US.

As we have done several times in the past few weeks, we ended the day by watching a movie on Netflix.  This time it was called The Invention of Lying.   I would not recommend this movie at all.

 

May 31, 2020

We began the day by doing various cleaning chores around on in the kitchen.  Then we took our usual morning walk of 2.6 miles.  The weather was exceptional with temperatures in the mid 60’s and nothing but sunshine.  It was perfect walking weather.

 

Today was our day to host the Covenant group in our backyard.  There were ten of us present, five couples: Hills, Printys, Baumans, Myers, and Davis.  We met from 7:00 – 8:30.  By the time people left the temperatures had turned almost chilly.  Jackets and blankets were in abundance.  We had a very good time chatting.

 

Before our friends came Lynn and I did a LOT of cleaning even though we met outside.  I disinfected my bathroom, cleaned off the chairs the kids gave us for our 40th anniversary, watered the tomatoes, and cleaned off the wooden tv trays in case anyone wanted to use them.  Lynn made a tasty batch of the frozen strawberry wine slushies.

 

Of course, there was time to walk today.  We did three walks in all including the 3.7 Leaport loop and a hike around the middle school track.  Our total for the day was 8.5 miles.  The weather was perfect all day which made walking easy.

 

The news today is filled with incidents of rioting and looting.  Not all of the rioting was done by blacks due to the police brutally killing George Floyd in Minneapolis.  I saw several videos on the nightly news and was surprised to see many rioters and looters were white, not black.  There were apparently some white supremacists who were heavily involved with some of the destruction.  The country is so tense right now, tense from stay-at-home orders, tense from COVID-19 fears, tense from racial discord, and tense from political differences.  America is far from great right now.

 

Many of the protests are non-violent and lawful.  But none show appropriate social distancing.  You have to wonder how many flareups of coronavirus will result.

 

The news on COVID-19 is more of the same.  Fifteen states show an increase in cases, including Virginia.  The stats are as follows:

 

Infected                   Died

World                 6,262,422              373,848

US                       1,837,170              106,195

Virginia                  44,607                  1,375

Augusta County          109                         1

 

I felt really badly for our daughter Ann today.  She and Gus had stopped over to pick up his PS4 which had done an update at our house since we have a better internet connection.  She told us that she and Josh were looking at a house which had recently come on the market not too far from here.  She seemed excited about the possibility.  Later she texted back that the house was under contract.  I know this was very disappointing for her and her family.  Let’s hope something else comes along.