Author Archives: joehillfamily

January 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!  I’m hoping this will be a happy news year with lots of good news about treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. 

Lynn and I have been watching the Netflix series Bridgerton at night the last couple of nights.  We’ve seen five of the eight episodes thus far.  It is about life in the British aristocracy in the early 1800’s where debutants are presented at court in the hopes of finding marriage.  Of all the series Lynn and I have watched during this pandemic this is the one I have liked the least.  For one, I miss some of the lines because of the British accent.  But the main reason is that I have absolutely no interest in the life and lifestyles of those at this socioeconomic level.  Even in modern news, whenever something about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle comes on I turn my ears off.  I’d much rather hear about the life of someone like my brother, George Stephanopolous, Jimmy Carter, Anthony Fauci, or Francis Collins.

To be honest, when I was trying to think of people to include in that last sentence I had a hard time.  There are just very few people beyond my immediate family that I highly admire.  I am not proud of this; I wish there were more people that I want to emulate.  I think that I struggled to find admirable people because I don’t look for them.  It is much easier to blast Donald Trump for his failings than to find someone to praise for their honorable deeds.  I like people who do their jobs well without seeking public adulation.  This includes people like my former employees Nevin Diener and Oskar Scheikl, my childhood minister Jerry Conner, our car mechanics Tom and Brian Simmons, former principal Charles Huffman, and colleague Harold Randall.

It is also very fair to say that the person I admire the highest is Lynn.  She is undoubtedly the most talented, intelligent, big-hearted, selfless, and thoughtful person I have ever known.  I’m beginning 2021 with renewed appreciation of her companionship.

For fun, I looked up how many games of Whirly Word and Solitaire I have now played.  On April 20, 2020, I started this blog, I had played 18,820 and 8,311 of each of those games, respectively.  This morning I was at 21,010 games of Whirly Word and 9,963 games of Solitaire.  That means that I have averaged over 12 games of Whirly Word and 6 games of Solitaire for each of the 258 consecutive days I have written about life in the COVID-19 era.  That alone says something about my lifestyle in the past nine months.

Lynn and I were able to walk two miles yesterday but not today.  Today’s weather was an awful cold rain with sleet mixed in.  It was a good day to stay indoors though both of us were bored.  Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be much better so we’ve planned to go for a walk tomorrow at a place I’ve been looking forward to seeing—the Crozet tunnel under Afton Mountain which is now open to the public.

We got our $1,200 stimulus check today electronically deposited into our checking account.  The irony is that until the pandemic is over we won’t be spending much of it.  Once we’re vaccinated our vehicles will be loaded with suitcases and we’ll try to make up for lost ground in the spending category.

Lynn taught a lesson today via Facetime—she showed Georgia how to knit.  She had given Georgia a knitting kit for Christmas.  Georgia had asked for this after watching her teacher knit while teaching.  So today Lynn taught her how it is done.  Later Kay sent us a video showing Georgia knitting while watching tv!

We also talked with Mary K. today.  She sent us a couple of pictures of her new grandson Den.  And we chatted with Butch who told us how he had Facetimed with Georgia who sold him some Girl Scout cookies.  I told him it must have been because her Scout Leader was pushy (her Mom).

Here are the coronavirus statistics for the first day of 2021:

January 1            Infected                   Died

World               84,261,867           1,833,046

US                     20,567,957              355,918

Virginia               354,766                  5,081

Augusta County       3,365                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       75,288                       

            Augusta County              541

So Virginia administered almost 1,000 vaccines today.  That might sound good but with a population of 8,600,000, at this rate it will take 8,600 days or 24 years to vaccinate all of us.  We still have way under 1% of the population vaccinated after half a month of vaccinating.  Augusta County’s total is 7/10ths of 1% of the population.  This is totally unacceptable. 

The semifinals in the NCAA football playoff were today.  I watched some of each game:  Alabama vs Notre Dame then Clemson vs Ohio State.  Alabama dominated Notre Dame in the first game then I watched the second one in bed.

January 2, 2021

WVU had a basketball game today against Oklahoma at Oklahoma.  It was a typical WVU loss—terrible play, awful shooting, a glimpse of hope, followed by disappointment at the end.  They shot 23% in the first half and got down by 18 points.  Then, they played like they are capable of and came back and tied the game with 8 minutes left.  But down the stretch they let it go and lost, 75 – 71.  It is so hard to be a WVU fan—you have to get used to disappointment.  But I will be one forever.

Today’s weather was nicer than it had been for days.  Lynn placed a pickup order at Michael’s in Charlottesville so we drove there around lunch time to pick it up.  Our plan was to get that order then head for the newly opened Afton Mountain tunnel for a nice walk.  Unfortunately, many other people had the same plans.  When we got there, cars were parked all over the place.  We waited for a spot but that didn’t happen.  Finally, we gave up and came home.  We figured the tunnel would have been crowded anyway with such a throng of people there and this is no time to be in a crowd.  It was disappointing.  We came home and walked our two mile neighborhood walk.

Earlier in the day I had made a trash run including a stop at Ann’s house to get theirs.  I’m driving the back roads now because Jim’s truck has an expired inspection sticker.  I suppose I’ll make arrangements to get it inspected this coming week.  Jim’s plan is to apply for antique plates for it since it is now 25 years old.  With antique plates you don’t have to have your vehicle inspected.  But technically it doesn’t turn 25 until March so I’m thinking I’ll have to get it inspected one more time.

Lynn placed a pickup order at Walmart for today, too.  We’re both trying hard to stay out of indoor establishments for a while.  COVID-19 is just too rampant now.  Looking at the statistics, in the US one out of every sixteen persons has it.  In Virginia that number is something like one out of every twenty four and in Augusta County it is one out of every twenty two. 

Here are today’s figures:

January 2            Infected                   Died

World               84,925,992           1,842,647

US                     20,867,714              358,485

Virginia               358,755                  5,117

Augusta County       3,389                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 81,770                 

            Augusta County        570

There have been almost 400,000 doses of vaccine distributed thus far.  Why have only 20% of them been administered?  I am getting increasingly impatient with how poorly the vaccinations are happening.  

Here is data from the Washington Post about Virginia:  At least 90,011 doses have been administered, covering 1.9% of the prioritized population and 0.7% of the state’s population.  Virginia has been allocated 486,275 doses, enough to vaccinate 15.0% of the prioritized population and 5.7% of the state’s population.  

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, At least 49,827 doses have been administered, covering 4.1% of the prioritized population and 2.2% of the state’s population. West Virginia has been allocated 109,700 doses, enough to vaccinate 11.0% of the prioritized population and 6.1% of the state’s population. 

I don’t know why the Washington Post has more people vaccinated in Virginia than the VDH website says but even with its increased numbers, under 1% of the state’s population is vaccinated whereas West Virginia is at 2.2%.  And, how has West Virginia been able to get almost 50% of its vaccines administered whereas Virginia is at 20%.  Makes no sense.

CNN reported that nationwide, 125,379 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday, more than any other day of the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project.  The number of patients topped 125,000 on Friday as well. The US has now remained above 100,000 hospitalizations for 31 straight days. Augusta County has 78 people currently hospitalized.

January 3, 2021

This was a typical Sunday for us—not much to do and nowhere to go.  We did go to Central this morning and picked up the monthly communion serving which was given streetside along with soup from Millie Brown and Connie Davis.  We also got a box of food for Elizabeth’s family and drove it to them.  Elizabeth reported that Gilberto is making slow improvement and, of course, is stil at UVA.

I got a lesson from Lynn today about Hispanic families’ last names.  I’ve been using the last name Jiminez for Elizabeth and her family.  Actually Jiminez is her last name which she keeps, as do most Hispanic couples.  Gilberto’s last name is Aguirre.  Thus Emily and Nathan have the last name of Aguirre – Jiminez which many people (including me) incorrectly shorten to Jiminez.  If anything, it is the Jiminez that should be dropped when reporting their last name if only one name is to be given.  Lynn had undoubtedly explained that to me earlier but I had forgotten.  In many previous posts I incorrectly listed Gilbeto’s last name as Jiminez.

This afternoon I rode with Lynn to Michael’s in Harrisonburg to pick up an order which she had placed for curbside pickup.  We really are trying to limit our in-store appearances.

Today, I learned of two more cases of COVID-19 in our church, one of which turned out to be fatal.  An elderly lady, Barbara Berry, passed away due to its complications.  She was 89 years old and lived at a nursing home.  Another person, Sarah Melton, has come down with the virus and, according to Pastor Won, is having lots of its adverse symptoms.  I do not believe she is hospitalized.  Furthermore, Won said he thought Susan Obaugh was being released from the hospital.  Still, these are just more cases of COVID-19 affecting people closer and closer to our lives.  Won said that Sarah’s son Shawn also has it.

As we drove to Elizabeth’s house between 11:00 and noon today we passed several churches.  The differences were stark.  At some, the parking lots were empty as services had been called off due to COVID-19.  At others, the parking lots were full, even at churches with obviously small sanctuaries where inside social distancing would have been impossible.  I cannot believe that God expects us to ignore the advice of scientific experts like Francis Collins and fill our churches up at a time when this virus is spreading rampantly.  At our church, for example, the only cars there were those of Won, Millie, Connie, and Yi-Peng Chen who led a Zoom hymn sing.  At Mount Pisgah UMC near our house, the main parking lot was completely full and the overflow lot across the street was over half full.  Their sanctuary is much smaller than ours.

Today’s big news on CNN is that they were given by the Washington Post an audio tape of a phone call Donald Trump made on Saturday to the Republican Georgia Secretary of State demanding that he “find 11,780 votes” and still claiming that he won the election.  They played the tape over and over on the air.  He even threatened the Secretary that if he didn’t immediately act then he would be guilty of an offense.  As Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, tweeted to Ted Cruz who has been singing Trump’s songs of election malfeasance, “You want to investigate election fraud?  Start with this…”

Today’s COVID-19 data is no different from the past:

January 3            Infected                   Died

World               85,455,394           1,850,112

US                     21,080,607              360,027

Virginia               363,765                  5,124

Augusta County       3,498                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 87,618                 

            Augusta County        608

Disappointment, as usual.  Virginia had over 5,000 new cases in just one day.  Augusta County had 109 new cases and has 81 people hospitalized.  We barely have 1% of the Virginia population vaccinated and have used slightly over 20% of the vaccines we’ve received.  Augusta County vaccinated only 38 people today.  I wish I had better news to report and each time I report this kind of information I get more irritated about the state’s ineptitude to get people vaccinated.  ABC tonight reported that Israel had already vaccinated 12% of its population.

There have been 50,000 American deaths in the past 20 days according to ABC news.  Despite the warnings from all medical experts, there is still a segment of the population which is acting like nothing has happened.  ABC had video clips of throngs of people on the beach and at parties, all unmasked and standing side by side. 

Some good news is that Moderna says it can reduce the size of the dosage in its vaccinations by ½, thereby doubling the number of vaccinations available.  The CDC hasn’t approved this yet.

January 4, 2021

I’m still ticked about the rate at which vaccinations are deployed.  So today I did this math after it was pointed out on the news that some people are getting their second vaccination meaning that it has been 21 days since this process was begun.  If Virginia has vaccinated 87,618 people in 21 days, it will take 5.6 years to vaccinate its population at that rate.  Now tell me that is satisfactory…

Knowing it will be a while before I get my vaccination, I canceled a dentist appointment I had next week and plan to cancel a doctor’s appointment I have in February.  I did go in to Central this morning to do the weekly deposit in QuickBooks but I was by myself in the library most of the time. 

The news media is still hopping about that recorded phone call of Trump’s on Sunday.  Some are calling for him to be indicted as violating Georgia law and pointing out that he can’t pardon himself from state laws, only federal.  The news should be about the pandemic and vaccinations but instead it is still about this worthless excuse of a President we have. 

Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over this morning while I was at Central.  Before I left, I set up the patio heater for her.  We had issues with it on Sunday, Dec. 28, when the grandchildren were here but today it worked flawlessly.  I think the issue on the 28th was that it was too windy and the excessive wind kept extinguishing it.  Today it wasn’t windy and the heater worked well for Lynn and her friends.

Our week has very few events scheduled.  Lynn was supposed to have a Zoom IEP meeting with a family in Rockingham County but it was canceled.  She’s supposed to have another one tomorrow, too.

I started reading a book today that Butch had recommended called Being Mortal.  It is by a medical doctor, Dr. Atul Gawande, who grew up where Butch lives in Athens Ohio and is about aging and dying.  It describes how modern medicine has mishandled both of these inevitable stages of life.  The book’s subtitle is “Medicine and What Matters in the End.”

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 4            Infected                   Died

World               85,968,273           1,858,631

US                     21,258,720              361,485

Virginia               367,536                  5,132

Augusta County       3,639                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 89,326                 

            Augusta County        608

Virginia’s numbers were a little better today with only 8 new deaths.  Augusta County, on the other hand, had 141 new cases in the past 24 hours.  And the vaccination page showed ZERO new vaccinations in Augusta County.  I hope this is just a reporting error.  My temper is about to explode.  If Virginia expects to have everyone vaccinated by June 30, the state needs to do 48,000 vaccinations EVERY DAY between now and then.  Can you see how badly we’re doing at this?

Here’s my solution—give the vaccinations to McDonald’s to administer.  According to an article I found from USA Today from 2019, McDonald’s sells 140 million hamburgers every day in the US.  If they were to do vaccinations instead of burgers, it would take two and a half days to vaccinate everyone in America.  After all, doesn’t it take longer to cook a hamburger than it does to stick a needle in someone’s arm?

Seriously, whomever is in charge of vaccinations in Virginia is doing an awful job.  The Wall Street Journal webpage which tracks vaccinations says that Virginia has given 108,861 vaccinations thus far which is 1.3% of the population.  But it has over 486,000 doses on hand.  What good do these vaccinations do when they’re sitting in a refrigerator somewhere??

January 5, 2021

With housekeeper Connie coming this morning Lynn and I wanted to get out of the house.  But since we didn’t want to go into any other buildings, where could we go?  We came up with a great plan:  we drove to the Crozet Tunnel on Afton Mountain which we had tried to see on Saturday but gave up when we discovered it was too busy for us to even park.  Today, with the temperature around 30o when we left home at 8:30, we knew that wouldn’t be the case today. 

We were right about that.  We had bundled up before we left home including long underwear.  We drove to the East side of the tunnel which is in the small town of Afton.  It was a half mile walk to the East end of the tunnel and nearly a mile through the tunnel.  Actually we walked to the 1.5 mile mark on the newly developed trail then turned around and came back.  It was a great three mile walk. 

The tunnel is long but straight so you can see a pinhole of light at the other end when you enter it.  Flashlights are a must and we had ours.  We’ve had lots of rain this season so there were places where the water was still dripping down but we did not walk anywhere in the mud.  The folks who have re-opened this tunnel and the trails to it have done a great job.  I took 42 pictures which I posted to my website when we got back.

On the way back home we made two stops.  First we went to Aldi’s where Lynn got some groceries.  Then we went to Smiley’s for an ice cream lunch.  Again, we were trying to stay away from home while Connie was here so what better place to go than Smiley’s?

I’m about halfway through the book I began reading yesterday, Being Mortal.  Much in this book is about how elderly people can live a happy, self-fulfilling life, not just a safe and medically treated life even though the book is by a doctor.  The examples in the book very much remind me of my parents and grandparents as well as Lynn’s parents.  It talks about how decisions about where elderly people live are made by their children, not the elderly themselves.  It talks about how people want for themselves to have lots of freedom but their loved ones to be safe.

Tonight we’ve kept glued to the news to see how the Georgia elections are going since the Senate’s control is so dependent on the two runoff elections there today.  Tomorrow we’ll be likewise watching with great interest as Congress is supposed to affirm the results of the Electoral College and declare Joe Biden President-Elect despite Trump’s intention to intervene.  As ABC news said it, Trump on Monday had made clear to Pence privately that he expects him to use his role as president of the Senate to deny Biden the presidency during the joint session of Congress, in which both houses will count each state’s electoral votes and reaffirm Biden’s win, according to a person familiar with their conversation.  Of course, Pence has absolutely no authority to do that.

Of course, the news tonight was still awful regarding COVID-19.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 5            Infected                   Died

World               86,776,758           1,873,844

US                     21,553,196              365,184

Virginia               371,913                  5,191

Augusta County       3,677                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               104,083                 

            Augusta County        671

The vaccinations listed here are from the Virginia Department of Health website.  Here are the statistics from the Washington Post:  At least 126,363 doses have been administered, covering 3.9% of the prioritized population and 1.5% of the state’s population.  Virginia has been allocated 587,575 doses, enough to vaccinate 18.0% of the prioritized population and 6.9% of the state’s population.

I don’t care which is more accurate—VDH or Washington Post.  The numbers provided in each are woefully behind where we should be at this point and cause people like me to worry even more.

January 6, 2021

The news is abuzz today about the wins by the two Democrats in the runoff election in Georgia.  Both Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated the incumbent Republican Senators in the special election.  Democrats now have a majority in both the House and Senate which will make it much easier for Biden to get his agenda enacted.  That is really good news.

But that news was quickly eclipsed by the siege that was made on the Capitol building today by Trump supporters.  This was a day for history, for sure.  All the while, Trump kept claiming that the election was stolen from him and then inciting his followers to riot.  After the four-hour occupation of the Capitol by these thugs, Trump complimented them as “patriots.”  Facebook broke out in many, many calls for the 25th amendment to be invoked whereby he is removed from office.  Reporters, politicians, both Democrat and Republican, and nearly everyone else all placed the blame for this insurrection squarely on Trump.  Trump was hell bent on disrupting the meeting of Congress whereby Biden would formally be given the title of President-Elect.  He succeeded, for sure.  But his legacy will forever be as a madman who became a sore loser.  One reporter I listened to tonight called him a psychopath and a narcissist. 

All of this happened while I went to Central to do some beginning-of-the-month tasks.  I was actually very successful in the three hours I worked there, getting all seven accounts (three credit card and four bank accounts) reconciled with no issues.  I’ve still got lots more to do, especially since tax forms will be soon due.

After CUMC, I went to Kroger where I waited entirely too long just to find out my prescription wasn’t ready.  I had to hustle to pick up some groceries Lynn had asked me to get then get home in time for us to go to Bridgewater to pick up Jim’s truck where it had its state inspection.  Surprisingly, the 25 year old truck passed inspection with flying colors.  It will never have to be inspected again because after 25 years a vehicle can be classified as an antique which doesn’t require inspection. 

There were so many developments in Washington today in addition to the riot.  For one, Trump broke off with his most loyal best bud Mike Pence because Pence insisted on doing what he was required to do by the Constitution instead of what Trump wanted him to do.  Tonight, Twitter cut off Trump’s account until tomorrow and threatened to cut him off for good.  Even Melania’s chief of staff quit because of the insurrection. 

At least the news today wasn’t about COVID-19.  Unfortunately, the virus didn’t take a day off while all of this was going on.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 6            Infected                   Died

World               87,578,754           1,888,966

US                     21,822,396              369,448

Virginia               377,300                  5,226

Augusta County       3,759                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               116,247                 

            Augusta County        690

What?  Augusta County vaccinated a total of 19 people today?  What in the heck is going on?  Rockingham County has already vaccinated almost twice as many as Augusta.  Albemarle has nearly three times as many already vaccinated.

I’ve passed the 400 page mark in this blog.  That’s a lot of bologna! 

I did something today I rarely do—I finished reading a book.  It took me only two full days to read Being Mortal.  There were some good lessons in that book on how everyone should prepare for their own finality on this earth and how they should help loved ones who are facing it.

January 7, 2021

It’s a good thing I am on blood pressure medicine because I know my blood would otherwise be boiling today.  I am upset about so much which is happening.  As I’ve been expressing, I am distraught over the turtle-like speed at which vaccines are being administered.  I sent an e-mail today to Dr. Laura Kornegay who is the Director of the Central Shenandoah Health District with an office in Staunton.  Here is the content of that e-mail:

Dr. Kornegay,
I am a 70 year old resident of Augusta County.  I am greatly distressed at the rate at which residents like me are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  According to the VDH website, yesterday Augusta County vaccinated 19 people.  At that rate, it will take 3,977 days, or 10.9 years, to vaccinate all of Augusta’s 75,558 residents.  This is totally unacceptable.  The VDH website shows that Virginia has thus far been issued 481,550 vaccines but only administered 116,247 of them. What good do vaccines do sitting in refrigerators?
If I heard the news correctly this morning, the next group vaccinated in Virginia will be those age 75 and over which, of course, I am not.
I have compromising medical conditions and take Symbicort twice daily.  I have called the office of my Pulmonologist, Dr. Aklilu Degene, at Sentara Pulmonary in Harrisonburg but was told they do not have vaccinations to distribute.  

I’m sure you can understand my frustration.  My question is simple:  what can I do to get vaccinated?
It is so ironic that there are many in our country who can get the vaccine and choose to not take it while others, like me, anxiously await it and can’t get it.
Thank you for listening,

Joe Hill

296 Leaport Road

Mount Sidney VA

540-292-0237

I also called the Carilion office of my personal physician, Dr. James Lagrua, and inquired if they would be giving vaccinations.  I was told that they had no vaccines and probably wouldn’t be getting any. 

In the meantime, there’s all this bs going on regarding the siege yesterday by Trump’s supporters.  Yet I find comments on Facebook suggesting that it was Antifa or BLM proponents who instigated the insurrection.  The videos all over the television tell a different story.  Ordinarily one who doesn’t comment much on Facebook, I couldn’t sit back and keep my mouth shut.  So I made comments on two places.  First, son-in-law Andy Foy had made a very well written post calling for Trump to be impeached and for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to have him immediately removed from office.  I added this comment:

In addition to getting rid of Trump, I’d also propose that Ben Cline, Bob Good, and Morgan Griffith of Virginia also be removed from Congress for objecting to certifying Biden’s win.  Their actions, like those of the rioters were un-American.  Their votes came AFTER they witnessed the siege.

Then, a cousin of mine, Lansing Hill, had made a post about the riot in DC yesterday which said “In my 60 years, I’ve seen a lot.  Nothing compares to this.  Nothing.  I’m sickened and disgusted.  There is no justification for what’s happening.”  Yet some had responded to his post suggesting that Antifa and BLM were responsible for the violence.  I just couldn’t let that go, either, so I responded:

To those quick to point out other riots in America involving members of Antifa or BLM, I say that it is wrong to riot and destroy property no matter which group you are part of, including Trump supporters.  And, those who incite such destruction, such as a President who lies and pours gasoline on the fires of sedition, deserve to be held accountable for it.

Further, there was a post from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph saying that Northram planned to get all Virginians vaccinated by June.  To that I posted:

A lofty goal given that, according to the VDH website, yesterday Augusta County vaccinated 19 people.  At that rate, it will take 3,977 days, or 10.9 years, to vaccinate all of Augusta’s 75,558 residents.  Why is this progressing so slowly?

At this point I don’t know what will happen to Trump or what will happen in the next 13 days before Biden takes over.  I do know that we’re in a mess now, both with Trump and COVID-19.

Lynn has been asked to test some children in Rockingham County this spring.  She rightfully told those in charge of testing that she would be glad to do it if she could get vaccinated.  Supposedly, teachers are going to be in the next group to get vaccinated along with those 75 and older so perhaps she will be able to get hers that way.  She had previously called the School Board Office and asked to be put on the vaccination list.

A Facebook friend of Lynn’s made a suggestion that I followed up with today; I called the  Central Shenandoah Health District office to see if they had a waiting list for COVID-19 vaccinations.  I was told they did not but that they would send me some information via e-mail. I did not receive that e-mail and likewise did not receive a reply from Dr. Kornegay. More high blood pressure…

This morning I took down all of our exterior Christmas decorations, boxed everything up, the put them above the garage.  So 296 Leaport Road is back to normal viewing from the outside now with no extra lights.

More wackiness today from Washington:  many, including Tim Kaine, Chuck Shumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and even a Republic Congressman, Adam Kinzinger from Illinois, are calling for Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unfit to hold office.  One of his Cabinet members, Mitch McConnell’s wife who was Secretary of Transportation, along with many staffers resigned today.  Question:  why did it take people so long to realize that Trump’s an idiot?

This afternoon I had to go back to Kroger to get my prescription.  I was forced to wait indoors for 15 minutes while the ten people in front of me in line got theirs.  I was very uncomfortable doing this but had no choice since this is the steroid, Symbicort, that I take twice per day for my asthma.  For a 60 day prescription, my cost was $393.00.  This is because I have a $450 deductible policy so the next five times I get this filled it won’t cost nearly that much.

COVID-19 didn’t pause during all the Trump theatrics.  According to ABC news, there were a record 3,865 new deaths from COVID-19 registered in the United States on Wednesday, marking the deadliest day since the start of the pandemic, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the second straight day that the country has logged a record number of fatalities from the disease within a 24-hour reporting period. Wednesday’s count tops the previous day’s peak of 3,775 deaths, Johns Hopkins data shows.  Meanwhile, 253,145 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed nationwide on Wednesday, marking the second consecutive day that the country has reported more than 200,000 newly confirmed infections. Wednesday’s tally is less than the all-time high of 297,491 new cases, which the country logged the previous day, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Here are the statistics from worldometers.org and the Virginia Department of Health:

January 7            Infected                   Died

World               88,388,598           1,904,287

US                     22,070,748              373,274

Virginia               382,679                  5,275

Augusta County       3,800                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               135,863                 

            Augusta County        869

Virginia had 5,300 new cases.  That is unheard of. 

According to Northram’s plan, those getting vaccinated now are in Group 1A which includes health care providers and residents of nursing homes.  Group 1B will include those over 75 plus teachers, and “frontline workers” such as EMS workers, policemen, firemen, postal workers, grocery workers, manufacturing workers, childcare workers, etc.  Group 1C is for those over 65 plus those with underlying health conditions.  I’m in that group.  God knows when we’ll get ours, if we live that long.   

I’m thinking again about my foxhole analogy.  Tonight I feel like the enemy is so close I can see their bayonets while my reinforcements are miles away and moving ever so slowly.  And when they come my foxhole will be one of the last they find.

January 8, 2021

There was a lot going on today and I missed much of it.  I worked at Central from 8:00 am straight through until 4:30 pm.  I had to pay federal and state taxes for the 4th quarter, then learn how to produce and file W2 forms for six employees (four current and two former).  By early afternoon I had done both.  I followed the examples by the forms submitted the past two years and got them OK, I think.  But then I ran into a problem.  I needed to set up payroll for the January 15 paychecks.  I got into a section of QuickBooks that I couldn’t exit from.  I found an online chat with a support person on the Intuit site but it took hours to adequately connect with him and have him help me with the issue.  By late afternoon we had the January 15 payroll set up OK.  It was very frustrating, though, and I was exhausted by the time this was done.

I wish I could say there’s nothing more to do with QuickBooks but there’s still more work to do.  I can probably wait until Monday to do the rest since I’ll have a deposit to make then.

At first I thought that leaving at 4:30 was a good time to leave but as soon as I got to the car I realized that Gus and Henry had basketball games tonight that were being livestreamed starting at 5:45.  I was supposed to take Lynn to the Old School food truck for our traditional Friday hamburgers but I got home too late for that.  Needless to say, she wasn’t very happy with me.  I just plain forgot about the ball games until it was too late.

This was the first basketball games of the season so it was our first experience with livestreaming.  We paid around $10 for the first month of this service but I’m not sure we’ll get our money’s worth.  The streaming was anything but smooth.  It frequently froze and buffered making it very frustrating to try to watch the game.

Gus didn’t get to play much at all in his JV game and his team got blown out.  They lost by 32 points, 54 – 22.  Their guards were terrible at being able to handle the ball and for some reason the coach didn’t play him until the 4th quarter.  There’s no way he would have done worse than the kids in there the first three quarters.

Henry’s varsity game was a different story.  He didn’t start but played a lot.  He scored 4 points on 2 for 2 shooting from the field.  He played good defense and got some rebounds as Fort beat Buffalo Gap 54 – 48.  Some of the game streamed just fine but we hardly could see any of the crucial 4th quarter.  I was not happy with the streaming but happy he played well and the team won.

The national news today was more of the same:  just about everyone anxious to get rid of Trump while the coronavirus runs rampant.   Trump has been banned from both Facebook and Twitter now.  He produced a video last night where he said the protesters shouldn’t have broken into the Capitol building and been violent but supposedly he later expressed to his close friends that he wished he hadn’t made that video because it angered some of his supporters.  Actually, most people think he made the video to perhaps keep his Cabinet from enacting the 25th Amendment on him and/or Congress impeaching him.  Supposedly, he’s also told others he plans to pardon himself before January 20.

Trump announced that he wouldn’t be coming to the January 20 inauguration.  I’m guessing everyone breathed a sigh of relief at that, especially Joe Biden.  What an embarrassment he has been to the nation and to his party.

ABC news didn’t forget about COVID-19 despite the Trump hoopla:  While millions were focused on Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, and the aftermath, the nation’s COVID-19 death toll soared to new heights.  Thursday, the third consecutive day of record U.S. deaths, was the deadliest so far, with 4,085 COVID-19 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. had never before surpassed 4,000.  With a seven-day average of 2,758 deaths by Friday, at least 365,882 Americans have died from the virus, according to JHU, which equals 1 in every 905.

Here are today’s statistics:

January 8            Infected                   Died

World               89,355,919           1,922,052

US                     22,456,902              378,149

Virginia               387,917                  5,312

Augusta County       3,864                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                      148.909                      

            Augusta County        911

Virginia’s vaccinated numbers are actually lower:  142,061 have received at least one dose.  The higher numbers include those who have gotten both shots.  Augusta County got 42 people vaccinated today.  HORRIBLE!  Our health department is so inept—I haven’t even received an e-mail from them despite e-mailing the director asking her what I could do, calling the department and being told they would e-mail me information.  They’ve done nothing, not even sent an e-mail.  I sent the director another e-mail tonight.

January 9, 2021

The day didn’t start out good for me because Lynn was still seething over my coming home too late last night for us to get the hamburgers she wanted.  I honestly just forgot about the basketball games and actually thought that by leaving Central at 4:30 my timing was good for getting the burgers.  But I had forgotten that Gus’ game started at 5:45 so there just wasn’t any time to get them.  I can’t blame her for being angry at me.  I just get so consumed in work that I forget about everything else that is going on.

My memory is clearly not what it used to be.  I don’t think I have serious mental health issues but I just forget things too easily.  Yesterday when I was paying the 4th quarter taxes I remembered to take screen shots at each step so I could put the directions into the manual I’d written for the next CUMC treasurer.  But later in the day I discovered that I had taken the screen shots and put them in the manual when I did the 3rd quarter taxes.  I just didn’t remember having done it.  I paid our Costco bill twice last month because I didn’t remember paying it the first time. 

I think I’ve got lots of safeguards to help me with these issues.  One of them is writing this blog.  So when I forget, for example, the name of someone or someplace I’ve seen recently I can look it up here.  I’ve done that many times over the past ten months.  Lynn and I keep an accurate shared calendar which should help me remember what’s upcoming.  The basketball games were not on that calendar but I confess that I did not stop my work yesterday at CUMC to look at my calendar (or my phone, my e-mail, or my text messages, either).  Again, I just get so consumed in my work…

I also know that I’ve repeated myself in this blog at various times.  But I’ve always been a repeater—one who tells and retells the same story.  I think that’s attributable to my life as a math teacher where repetition is valued and important.  At least that’s my excuse!

For decades I’ve remembered this line about giving a lecture or talk, “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.”  Yes, repetition is built into my psyche, for sure.  Can you tell?

I made an exciting discovery today.  The NFHS network which is where the basketball games are streamed through, archives the games.  And, they have an iPad app which I downloaded.  I then was able to view last night’s games again and they played smoothly with no buffering or freezing.  We were finally able to see some of the 4th quarter which we could not last night.  And, the iPad can Air Play to our televisions as well.  This is really good news.  It was fun watching Henry score again and again (you can rewind and fast forward the recording).

A somewhat humorous Facebook post the other day caught my eye.  It said that finally with a Democratic President, Democratic Senate, and Democratic Congress, Trump had succeeded in “Making America Great Again.”  MAGA!

Dr. Kornegay finally replied to my e-mails this morning.  She sent me a link to a survey.  I quickly sent her a polite thank you for replying.  Then I clicked on the link.  It was a survey strictly for employers and organizations, not for individuals.  It said “This form is only for essential employers to notify the Health Department of your workplace specifics and how many public facing staff you have that would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19…This is not for individuals to fill out. You must be an employer responding on behalf of your organization.”  So I wrote her again (4th time), this time telling her that the survey she sent me to was clearly not for me; it was to determine which organizations should get their employees vaccinated.  I asked her if vaccinations were only intended for organizations or those who are employed….   She did send back an apology but this just shows how disorganized vaccine distributions are in the state.  There is no plan to gather information from or schedule vaccinations for individuals like me.  Lynn did hear from her Albemarle school rep, where she does the Migrant Education program, that all Albemarle employees are to be vaccinated so maybe she’ll get hers that way. 

This afternoon I watched the WVU – Texas basketball game.  Texas came into the game ranked 4th nationally; WVU was 14th.   West Virginia played a good first half and led 40 – 36 at that point.  The Mounties led the entire second half until 1 second to go when Texas hit a three pointer and took a 72 – 70 lead and the game.  WVU had just missed its previous three free throws.  Typical West Virginia—they can always find a way to lose.

Lynn and I bought our lottery tickets today.  The MegaMillions jackpot is now approaching $600 million; the drawing is next Tuesday night.  The Powerball jackpot is now $470 million; its drawing is tonight.  We bought two tickets for each. 

I honestly think that winning such an amount would bring a person more problems than luxuries.  I can’t imagine all the issues that would come from instantly having that much money.  What would I do if I won?  I’d begin by setting up trust funds for each of my eight grandchildren.  Maybe next I’d hire an accountant for Central so I wouldn’t have to spend too long there and get Lynn so mad at me.

Ann and Josh decided to come to our basement tonight with Freddie and Gus to use our streaming setup to watch basketball.  I thought they were coming over to watch Henry and Gus’ games from last night.  But it turns out that Gus had a JV game rescheduled to tonight at Wilson Memorial High School.  So they watched his game instead.  The streaming worked OK but not perfectly.  And, like last night, Gus only saw a couple of minutes of play.  I feel sorry for him; it would be different if he were on a fine team but the team is now 0 – 2.  He is 6’ 3” and would do well under the basket but the offense that FDHS runs has all of the players on the perimeter so frequently he is 20 feet from the basket when someone shoots.  So he has little chance to rebound and score.  I’ve disliked this offense for years; Henry’s JV team ran the same plays.  Plus, the Fort JV guards cannot handle the ball at all.  Lynn and I haven’t watched the game from tonight (we’ll watch it tomorrow or later) but last night the team must have had 30 turnovers.  Hard to watch… 

The COVID situation has no positive news again tonight.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 9            Infected                   Died

World               90,043,283           1,933,457

US                     22,688,965              381,367

Virginia               393,715                  5,381

Augusta County       3,942                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               167,452 (11,023 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1011

Augusta County vaccinated 100 people today.  Yet Augusta County also had 78 new cases.  Virginia administered 3,895 doses today but the state had 5,798 new cases!  Is this staying ahead of the game?   I think not.  Why are we not vaccinating people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  COVID is infecting people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Virginia is still only at 33% of all of the doses it has received have gotten into someone’s arm.  The other 67% have only gotten into some refrigerator.

The other news tonight is that there are an increasing number of politicians calling for the impeachment (again!) of Donald Trump.  It will likely happen in the House next week though the Senate won’t be convening until one day before Joe Biden is inaugurated.  Who knows what will happen in the next 11 days.  Actually, the impeachment may continue after Biden takes over.  We’ll just have to see how this works out.  One Facebook post I read said “if we can approve a Supreme Court Justice in one week then we can impeach him in one week.”  Of course, that reference was to the way the Republicans pushed through the nomination of Trump’s nominee Amy Comey Barrett to the Supreme Court.  Stay tuned!

January 10, 2021

Lynn got a phone call from our neighbor Debra Sheffer this morning.  Debra told her how she had been walking by a house where Lynn and I have walked scores of times, the Michael’s house which is about 8/10ths of a mile from our house.  This is the house that has the pig, Winnie, that actually lives inside the house.  They also have a couple of dogs which are usually tied up but sometimes not.  One of the dogs is named Remy which we learned from its owner, Lacey.  Remy has always growled at us but whenever we’d say “Remy Go Home!” it would not come close.  Others had told us that the dog had intimidated them.  Well, Debra relayed that when she walked by there yesterday the dog bit her so badly she had to be taken to the emergency room for stitches. 

The house is on the walk that we have made almost daily except for when Lynn broke her foot or the weather was bad.  So this incident will definitely change our walking habits in the near future.  The Sheffers called Animal Control so we’re not sure what will come of Remy.  I would be very happy to learn that the dog is no longer at the house.

Debra later let Lynn know that Animal Control had taken the dog so we knew it was safe to walk past the house again.  So this afternoon we bundled up and did our standard two mile walk.

There wasn’t much else going on today—lots of news about impeaching Trump.  One interesting idea I saw one Democratic Congressman propose was to impeach him in the House immediately next week but wait until Biden had been in office for 100 days before passing it on to the Senate.  That would give Biden time to get his Cabinet appointed and other priorities going because once the Senate takes up the impeachment everything else will grind to a halt.  Personally, I like this plan because it will still accomplish the mission of making Trump ineligible to hold federal office again and will make Trump sweat for 100 days.  One interesting comment I heard one reporter pass on was that in a normal hearing, witnesses certainly are not allowed to be in the jury but in the case of this impeachment every Senator was a witness to the riot.

It took the White House until today to lower their flag to half mast in respect to the policeman who lost his life in the siege.  And that only happened after lots of bad publicity came about.  Supposedly, the only thing Trump is sorry for is making his one video in which he condemned violence. 

Supposedly, those in group 1B are to start receiving vaccinations very soon.  That includes educators, front line workers, and those over age 75.  So there’s a chance Lynn will be getting hers in this group.  She got an e-mail from Rockingham County Schools Superintendent Oskar Scheikl who told them the vaccinations were coming though he didn’t have a date yet.  Supposedly, the school system is going to put out a survey to find out who does and does not want to be vaccinated.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 10          Infected                   Died

World               90,638,389           1,942,107

US                     22,900,907              383,186

Virginia               398,856                  5,383

Augusta County       3,996                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               177,945 (12,747 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1097

Augusta County is still proceeding at an unacceptable slow rate of vaccinations.  Only 86 people were vaccinated today.  Do the math:  there are over 75,000 people in Augusta County.  We’ve been averaging many fewer than 100 vaccinations per day.  At 100 per day it will take over 6 years to get everyone vaccinated. 

January 11, 2021

This being Monday, my first job today was to go to Central UMC for the weekly deposit.  I also had several items left from last Friday to finish since the new year was starting.  I was able to get right to the tasks and got everything done that I had planned by 10:30 AM.  I did bring some work home with me on a USB stick; I had taken lots of screen shots when I did the tax work on Friday and wanted to update my QuickBooks manual to include these screenshots with the directions. 

I was able to work on the basement iMac in the afternoon and get the directions put in for the federal tax section.  I’ll do the state another day.  That manual is already pushing 100 pages in length.

It was too cold to walk today; Lynn and I had walked yesterday but decided to not go out today.  The next few days look very promising for walking, though.

Lynn had a Zoom meeting this morning and worked in the afternoon on getting her teacher recertification application finished.  She has to submit it to her former principal, Kenny Boyers at Cub Run Elementary, and hopes to get that done soon.  This will give her ten more years of teaching, if she wants.  Of course, she only does it part time now.

The news today, as it has been for nearly a week now, was all about impeaching Trump.  A proposal to do so was introduced to the House today; they are supposed to vote on it on Wednesday.  With a big Democratic majority in the House, it will likely pass but then what?  The Senate wouldn’t take it up until January 19 at the earliest.  He leaves office on January 20.  I still like the idea I wrote about yesterday where they hold off delivering it to the Senate until after Biden has gotten his agenda and Cabinet in place, perhaps about 100 days into his Presidency.

For dinner tonight, we went to Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird and brought home a Soprano pizza.  We had called it in on the way there which worked well.  That pizza is so good!  We ate less than half of it for dinner tonight so we’ll be eating well tomorrow night, too.

Henry had a basketball game tonight at Waynesboro.  The JV game had been postponed, supposedly because the Waynesboro JV team had an outbreak of COVID-19.  So the varsity game was moved to 6:00 which made for a convenient time for Lynn and me to watch it, especially since I had plans to watch the NCAA football championship game between Alabama and Ohio State at 9:00.

The game’s video stream from Waynesboro High was another strange one.  For some reason, on all games we’ve watched there is no person doing the play-by-play.  On Henry’s last game there was a running score across the bottom of the screen though it was almost never accurate.  For the game tonight, there was nothing.  So we had video, no announcer, and no score.  I had to keep up with the score on my computer.  It would seem to me that some high school kid would have fun doing the play-by-play announcing.  It might even lead to some future career.   A high school kid from this area would have a much higher chance to have a career as a tv announcer than the kids on the floor have at being a professional basketball player.

Before the game, Waynesboro introduced its senior players (Fort Defiance had done the same at its first game last week).  They had seven seniors out of the eleven boys who dressed—that’s a lot.  One of them was a transfer from Fort Defiance over the summer.   They appeared to be much taller than Fort’s team.

Henry didn’t start but was inserted pretty early in the first quarter and played much of it.  Ryan Cook is a very good guard for FDHS.  He scored all 12 of Fort’s points in the first quarter.  The score was 12 – 12 then.  In the second quarter, FDHS did well, moving the lead out to 30 – 18 at the half.  Poor Waynesboro is huge but they can’t shoot worth a lick.  Reminds me of WVU!  Henry got in near the end of the quarter and played well though he didn’t have a chance to score. 

In the third quarter, Fort kept its lead despite Ryan’s nose getting bloodied and having to sit out for a while.  Henry got two points on a nice fast break layup.  He didn’t play much in the 4th quarter; FDHS didn’t need him as they cruised to a 56 – 44 win despite shooting horribly from the free throw line.  Fort is 2-0 for the season!  I’d have to say that Waynesboro’s team is very poor, especially for a school which has a good basketball tradition.

The US is averaging more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths per day.  Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 11          Infected                   Died

World               91,252,121           1,951,508

US                     23,109,737              384,947

Virginia               403,386                  5,393

Augusta County       4,031                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               189,283  (15,130 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        1,178

Virginia had another 4,500 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County got only 81 more people vaccinated today.  The only good news for me is that I got three e-mails from the Central Shenandoah Health Department today about the vaccine.  Two were just informational but one was from a man, Jordan Good, whose title was COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator who said he’d be sure to get me on the list though my group wasn’t scheduled to be vaccinated yet.  I have a feeling I’m going to be e-mailing this man again expressing my disdain…

January 12, 2021

This morning I got an e-mail from the Central Shenandoah Health Department inviting me to fill in an online form regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.  I did and so did Lynn.  The form didn’t have anything significant in it and, of course, provided no new information as to when vaccines would be available.

Later in the morning, I learned that the CDC made a change to its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccinations.  Here is what CNBC said: 

The Trump administration on Tuesday will issue new guidelines that expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone age 65 and older, a senior official told CNBC.  The states’ focus on vaccinating health-care workers and nursing homes has created a bottleneck, the administration official said. “The states are being told immediately they need to expand to 65-plus as well as those under 65 with comorbid conditions,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal announcement.  The administration will also stop holding back millions of doses reserved for the second round of shots of  Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines, the official said, adding they released doses that had been held in reserve on Sunday.

I immediately sent two e-mails to our local health department asking them if that means that people in my age group, 65-74, would now be moved into the priority group 1B instead of 1C.  Right now, supposedly they are finishing vaccinating people in group 1A, those on the front line of health care.  I didn’t pull back any punches in my e-mail, writing: 

My wife and I have both completed the survey.  However, given the news today that the CDC is revising its recommendations to states to now prioritize those 65 and over, will Group 1B now include those 65 and over instead of 75 and over?  If so, what are your plans to expedite this process?  

Plus, Augusta County vaccinated 81, 86, 100, 42, 179, 19, and 63 people in the past week according to the VDH site.  That’s a total of 570 vaccinations.  There are nearly 76,000 residents in the county.  Surely you know that if this rate continues it will take many years, not a few months, to get everyone vaccinated.  Can this not be sped up?  You need to have 24/7 vaccination clinics.

Then, I pasted in the CNBC article about ages 65 and over to confirm what I had written about in the first paragraph.

I didn’t really expect a reply though I did get back an auto-reply that said “Due to increased volume of requests from the community, you may experience a delay in our response to your email.”

Poor Lynn spent most of the day doing an online First Aid class she was required to finish in order to get her teaching certificate renewed.  It was not fun for her at all—it was boring and forced her to do lots of fake hands-on activities.  I told her that, having completed it, she should be considered as a First Responder and thus be eligible for her COVID-19 vaccination in group 1A.

I spent a lot of time this morning working on my QuickBooks manual.  Yesterday I got the sections done about doing the quarterly Federal 941 forms and the annual chore of doing the Federal W-2 forms.  Today I completed the section for the State W-2 and VA-6 forms.  I only have a little to do to finish the manual—the section about what needs to be done to start a new year.  I’ve done those tasks for 2021 but didn’t make screen shots so I’ll re-trace my steps and take the screen shots sometime in the near future.  There aren’t many tasks that need to be done.

The weather was as nice today as it is going to be in mid-January with lots of sun and highs in the mid to high 40’s.  We were able to get in a walk after Lynn finished her long online class.  It was actually very pleasant outside.  I can tell I’m not in the shape I was months ago—walking two miles now tires me a bit.  But it still felt good to be outside.  Actually, we didn’t walk until I made a phone call to Augusta County Animal Control.  I wanted to know if the dog that had bitten Debra Sheffer had been returned to the owners.  They said no and it would not be which meant that it was safe for us to walk our normal hike.

Freddie was back in regular school today and his bus brought him here this afternoon.  Josh was here to pick him up.   It was nice to get back to that routine, even if it is only for two days each week.  Freddie was happy that his teacher is back now after a maternity leave.  I pitched a football with him for a while and was very pleased at how well he threw and caught it.

Tonight was the third basketball game for both Henry and Gus.  The two came into their games with opposite early experiences.  Gus’ JV squad is 0 – 2 and he has gotten to play very little.  Henry’s varsity team is 2 – 0 and he has played roughly 50% of the time.  Both played Riverheads. 

In Gus’ game, he didn’t get to play the entire first quarter.  His teammates played poorly and fell behind 7 – 2 at the end of the quarter.  After a couple of minutes into the second quarter, Gus got to play.  His team made a good comeback and went ahead 16 – 13 at half.  Gus didn’t score but rebounded and played defense well.  To start the third quarter, he was back on the bench.  Shortly thereafter, Riverheads went up 17 – 16.  Then Fort got hot and took a 27 – 19 lead at the end of the third quarter.  Gus saw some action near the end of the quarter.   He stayed in to start the 4th quarter and continued to do well, hitting a nice baseline jumper to add to the lead.  He got several rebounds but the coach took him out when he picked up his third foul.  The JV’s won their first game of the season, 32 – 21.

Henry doesn’t start on the varsity team though I think he should.  Of course, he’s only a sophomore.  He got in after about four minutes and quickly hit a nice left hander then buried a three pointer.  The Indians were down 10 – 8 at the end of the quarter and he had 5 of the 8 points.  See what I mean that he should be starting?  He scored again in the second quarter and Fort narrowly clung to a 20 – 19 lead at half.  He was 3 – 3 from the field in the half.  But the third quarter was disastrous for them.  Cold shooting led to a 38 – 30 lead for Riverheads.  Henry played some but definitely not enough.  When he was in, he rebounded and passed well.  I can’t understand why the coach takes him out and puts in players that have no chance of scoring and don’t play good defense.  Henry got back in with 5:38 to go but they were down 42 – 32 by then.  Fort hit two three pointers, the second with 1:44 left, after being down 9 which made it 47 – 44.  They had the ball twice more and missed a shot that would have tied it but then fumbled it away on a few other possessions in the last minute.  They lost 50 – 47. Henry had 9 points.  Fort’s star player Ryan Cook had an off game. 

I’ve watched a lot of CNN over the past week since the news has been so hot lately.  Today’s news was about the impending impeachment of the President.  And, it included a clip of him getting ready to go to Texas to visit the border wall he built (with US taxpayer funds, not Mexico’s).  Before he left, he said that his comments right before the riot were “appropriate” and claimed he had been told that by others.  I don’t know what others he is talking about because everyone in the news including plenty of people from both sides of the political aisle, have called his comments seditious. 

In today’s COVID-19 report:

January 12          Infected                   Died

World               91,972,691           1,968,351

US                     23,358,156              389,424

Virginia               407,947                  5,477

Augusta County       4,060                       34

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                     200, 402 (19,086 of whom got 2nd dose)        

            Augusta County        1,321 (130 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County had 3 more people die of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and currently has 93 people hospitalized with it.  Though the vaccinated numbers picked up a little with 143 vaccinated, still less than 2% of Augusta County’s population has received even one shot.  If we expect herd immunity at some time, then we’ve got to get the number vaccinated much higher than those newly infected. 

January 13, 2021

The video streaming service broadcasts of the boys’ basketball games isn’t perfect though the last couple of games have worked better for us.  We’ve learned that the best way to stream the games is through my iPad which we then use AirPlay to transfer to our large TV downstairs.  The service hasn’t figured out yet how to sync their broadcast with the score so I’ve just maintained my own scorebook.  Regardless of these minor problems, it is still turning out to be a very nice way for us to see Henry and Gus play.  We don’t have to travel or pay entrance fees.  We can lounge in the comfort of our family room and even play the games over and over if we want.  Lynn called FDHS yesterday to thank them for the service and to let them know we’d like for them to get the clock and scoreboard synced better.  The Athletic Director said they were working on the issue.  The next games will be Friday night.

Lynn has been working on getting all of her recertification papers together so she can remain as a licensed teacher.  She needs to do that in order to keep her position with Rockingham County as a part-time ELL testing person.  If it is approved, she will be re-licensed for ten more years which is all she’ll ever need.  She has them all ready to turn in to her former principal, Kenny Boyers at Cub Run.  I suggested that she should scan them so she’d retain a copy of all she submits.  Today I took them all to the basement where our HP printer/scanner is.  The process worked great!  She had the papers separated into five or six paper-clipped sections, each with 8 – 12 pages in them.  I scanned them to a USB drive in these sections, feeding through the document feeder.  It worked very, very well.  I transferred the documents to her computer and the downstairs iMac so she now has a good backup of everything she’s submitting.  Instead of having a big manila file folder of information, it is all now combined into five or six PDF documents.  That printer/scanner has served us well.

By the way, my licensure to teach in Virginia expired in 2020.  I have no plans of trying to get it renewed.  I do think I’d enjoy teaching again, perhaps a FDHS course, but I’m not about to go through the tedium she’s done to get her recertification.

Today’s weather was even better than yesterday’s.  Lynn had made arrangements to walk with Ginny Bauman in the afternoon.  She walked two miles with her then later walked 1 ½ more with me. 

While Lynn was walking with Ginny they talked to Lacey, the owner of the dog that bit Debra Sheffer.  She told Lynn that the dog had been put down.  I’m not too sorry to hear that.

I spent too much time today listening to the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.  The speeches, usually one or two minutes in length, went on and on.  They were quite repetitious.  I really can’t believe the blind manner in which many Republicans still follow their deranged leader.  Yet the vote was 231 – 197 to impeach Trump with 10 Republicans siding with all of the Democrats who voted to impeach him.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 13          Infected                   Died

World               92,678,975           1,984,316

US                     23,573,585              393,251

Virginia               412,545                  5,552

Augusta County       4,151                       36

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                     216, 257 (22,985 of whom got 2nd dose)        

            Augusta County        1,390 (164 of whom got 2nd dose)

I keep looking for good news here but there is none.  Augusta County only vaccinated 79 more people in the past 24 hours.  Yet five more have died in the past two days.  There were 91 new cases.  So they can’t even vaccinate more people than those who get infected each day.   And did I get a reply from my two e-mails asking if I would be moved to category 1B?  Of course not.  I guess they were too busy vaccinating people – NOT.   And look at where the vaccines are going:  Virginia has received 904,400 vaccines but only administered 216,257 of them.  They’re going to refrigerators, not people.

I’m going to have to start cutting back on eating.  This morning I got on the scales for the first time in weeks and found that I have gained a little over six pounds since the start of the pandemic.  But lately the food has been so good!  Tonight Lynn made delicious Spanish Rice and we had leftover Vito’s pizza.  Plus, she made some new cakes from a recipe Ann gave her involving grapefruit juice.  They are really good, too.

For fun, after dinner tonight we went to the 7 – 11 in Verona and bought two MegaMillions and Powerball tickets.  Don’t ask me what we’d do if we won $550,000,000!

January 14, 2021

We got some good news last night from Elizabeth Jiminez.  Her husband Gilberto Aguirre is doing much better, is taking rehab now, and will be released to come home soon.  He still can’t have visitors yet, though.  She also confided with Lynn that a few weeks ago she received a phone call from the hospital that his lungs had collapsed and she should arrange to say her last good-bye to him.  Understandably, Elizabeth gives high praise to God for his recovery.  This is another example of prayers answered.

Well, we didn’t win the Powerball lottery last night but neither did anyone else.  So now the jackpot for the next draw is $650,000,000.  What in the world would you do if you won that?  You’d have to assume a new identity somewhere like those in witness protection.

I’m trying to keep up the pressure on those who are working with COVID-19 vaccinations.  Last night, in his State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Northram said “They authorized states to go ahead and start vaccinating people age 65 and up. We’ll be moving forward with that quickly—I’ll be talking to local health directors and hospitals tomorrow about how we make this happen.”  So today I called the Virginia Department of Health number to ask why their website still has people in the 65+ age category in Group 1C whereas those in the 75+ category are in 1B.  I was on hold for a long time before I finally got through to someone. 

Actually I had been transferred to 211-Virginia.  A nice lady came on the line and was fully aware of what the Governor had said and the changes from the CDC.  She told me that people in my age group should be moved into group 1B just as I had asked.  She said the website would likely reflect that tomorrow.  I’ll believe that when I see it.  Of course, Augusta County is still vaccinating people only in the 1A group.  I’m going to continue my pressure until I have a sore arm from the shot.

This afternoon Governor Northram had a press conference about COVID-19.  He said just what I wanted him to say—that people in age 65 and older would be moved to group 1B and that the state had to do a better job of getting vaccines into arms.  He also said that every vaccine that had been received in the state had been delivered to the localities.  In other words, we know for sure where the fault lies now—our local health department which only vaccinates about 75 people each day. 

Freddie came on the bus again today, as he will likely do the rest of the year unless Augusta County Schools changes its program.  The weather was really nice outside for January 14 so we shot basketball until Josh came.  I enjoy his company!

Lynn and I also walked two miles today.  It felt good.  This weather has been unseasonably nice but, unfortunately, according to the forecast today is to be our last warm day.  The upcoming week isn’t supposed to be frigid, just seasonable meaning the highs will be in the 40’s.  Today it neared 50.

Lynn’s Cheryl friends came over this morning so I went to Central.  I got my entire QuickBooks manual finished, printed, and inserted into the notebook.  Whenever it is time for me to give up my treasurer’s duties, the next person should have a guide to learn from.  The document is 96 pages long.

I called my sister today to check on her.  She sounded better on the phone today than she has in years.  She was alert, witty, and said she felt fine.  She is so happy to have that new grandson.  Speaking of him, we got a nice text from Vic today thanking us for the blanket Lynn made for him plus the books we sent.  He sent along a picture of little Denny wrapped in the blanket.

Lynn had read somewhere that vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are all a preventative from adverse reactions to COVID-19.  So for the past ten days or so I’ve been taking one of her multi-vitamins which contains vitamin C and zinc plus a vitamin D pill.  She’s been taking them daily for years.  I figured they couldn’t hurt.

Tonight Jim send a text message to our Family group that he was registered to be vaccinated for COVID on January 20.  I’m jealous! 

Here are today’s statistics:

January 14          Infected                   Died

World               93,455,201           2,000,349

US                     23,811,054              397,347

Virginia               417,839                  5,626

Augusta County       4,195                       39

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               242,530 (27,429 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,591 (224 of whom got 2nd dose)

The news above is really bad.  Virginia had over 5,000 new cases and 74 new deaths.  Augusta County had three more deaths and 96 currently hospitalized.  Staunton City has 42 deaths thus far with less than 2,000 cases.  Rockingham County has almost 5,000 cases total and 57 dead.  Harrisonburg has almost 5,000 cases and 50 dead.  The only bright spot is that Augusta County finally vaccinated more than 200 people in one day. 

Lynn got word today that her uncle B. B. Hanger died yesterday.  He was living at The Legacy with his wife, Jo Lee.  He was the last of the Hanger family to go.  We had traveled to Alaska with him and Jo Lee back in 2006.

What has our country come to?  There are more troops now surrounding the Capitol in DC than the number of soldiers in Afghanistan.  By next week, in addition to thousands of policemen where are supposed to be 20,000 National Guard.  Many Congressmen are going back home fearing for their lives.  City leaders throughout the US have been told to brace for violence.  Trump has still not taken any responsibility for the violence on January 6.  You have to wonder when, not if, there will be someone in power killed by one of the thousands of wild people like those who lay siege to the Capitol.  Guns are so easy to get and, apparently, minds are so easy to be warped.

January 15, 2021

I got one piece of news I’d been looking for this morning:  the Virginia Department of Health changed its website so that people age 65 and over are now in Group 1B.  Our health department is still vaccinating people in group 1A but other sections of Virginia are already in Group 1B—that’s why Jim got his appointment.  Teachers are in 1B. 

The medical experts say that those who are vaccinated not only have a 95% chance of not getting COVID-19 but even if they do get it their case will likely be very mild.  Maybe the reinforcements are getting nearer to my foxhole.  But the enemy is, too—ABC said this morning that the number of deaths this past week due to coronavirus are 25% higher than they have been at any time during this pandemic.

Lynn and I went to Costco during senior hour this morning.  We had several things to get and Central UMC had given me a rather long list of items they wanted.  We were successful in getting everything and the store wasn’t crowded.

Afterwards we went by The Legacy and left a flower nnd card for Jo Lee Hanger.  B.B.’s obituary was on the Coffman Funeral Home site; he was 96 years old.  All of that family lived a long time! 

We then stopped by Central and dropped off all of the items we had purchased.  All were for the custodian, Janet.

Gus and Henry each were scheduled to play basketball tonight at Stuarts Draft High School but the NFHS site, the streaming site, didn’t list their games though it did list lots of others.  Lynn called the school and was told that the games were still scheduled and the lady who took her call said she’d notify the Athletic Director.  We didn’t want to miss one second of their games!  Finally they showed up online.

I’m not sure why but the price of gasoline has risen significantly over the past week.  We’d been paying around $1.95 per gallon but Costco’s price today was $2.33.  I’m sure the Republicans will say that’s the result of electing Biden.  If this is so, then it was worth it.

It was chilly today and rainy in the late afternoon.  But before the rain got here Lynn and I got in our two mile walk.  We were bundled up well and it wasn’t too bad. 

Today was Friday so we returned to our tradition of getting hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  We ate early since we wanted to watch Gus’ game which started at 5:45.

After we ate, Ann, Josh, and Freddie came over to watch the games.  We had a setup where Ann connected to the game on her phone then projected it to the downstairs television via AirPlay.  She did so through our WiFi.  Meanwhile, Lynn and I connected to the network using Verizon on my iPad.  I had turned WiFi off on the iPad so we wouldn’t be competing for bandwidth with Ann.  The only drawback was that we couldn’t use AirPlay to connect to our tv upstairs since we had turned WiFi off.  So, Lynn and I didn’t get the benefit of a big screen through we were able to see the games OK on the iPad.  This way, we were able to keep socially distant yet still both families could see the games.

The JV game was hard to watch.  Fort led the entire first half and built up a 38 – 31 lead with about 4 minutes left.  Gus had played a good bit, scored four points, and got lots of rebounds.  But at the 4 minute juncture of the game he had been taken out.  Over the last four minutes, with Gus on the bench, Stuarts Draft scored 14 points and Fort didn’t score.  The Fort guards threw the ball away, then threw it away, then threw it away.  Over and over again they turned the ball over.  Gus later said it was six consecutive times they turned it over.  They are just poorly taught and coached.  Gus should feel good about his play.

In the Varsity game, Henry didn’t start though I think he should.  Henry has been the second highest scorer in two of their three games yet he didn’t play a second of the first quarter.  Explain that.  At least Fort was up 16 – 10 at the end of the first.  He played most of the second quarter, scored two points, and Fort grabbed a 26 – 19 lead at the half.  At the end of the third, Fort had moved out to a 42 – 30 lead and Henry had 8 points.  The final score was 54 – 36.  Henry had 10—his first time in double digits.  Not bad at all for a sophomore! Fort is 3 – 1 now.

When I think about it, it is amazing that the boys are able to play interscholastic basketball with COVID-19 so rampant.  So many other things have been canceled.  They play in a large gymnasium with only 20 – 25 fans present. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 15          Infected                   Died

World               94,245,418           2,016,069

US                     24,076,290              401,469

Virginia               422,634                  5,656

Augusta County       4,225                       39

            Vaccinated

            Virginia             268,4430 (30,475 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,647 (233 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County vaccinated 56 people today.  Terrible!!  Lynn did get an e-mail from Rockingham County Schools with details about when those employees, including her, would be vaccinated starting January 27.   They’re going to do all of the vaccinations at the four high schools, one per week, on Wednesdays, starting at Spotswood High School.  So it seems that Rockingham has some plans.  Apparently Augusta does not.

January 16, 2021

The morning took an unexpected frantic turn when, while we were taking food to Lynn’s student Juan Pablo in Waynesboro, I got an e-mail from Bill Bushman with directions for signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine at Augusta Health.  He said it was legitimate and that he and Martha had signed up and gotten their confirmations.  While coming home I got a similar text from Jim Printy saying to sign up quickly; spots were going fast.  I drove home faster than I should have then put my typing skills to good use.  Lynn and I immediately signed up for next Friday, the 22nd, at 8:20 AM. 

The site says this will be the Pfizer vaccine.  We had to fill in various information on the online form then we got to pick our time.  The earliest available on Friday was the 8:20 slot.  We then forwarded the e-mail to everyone we thought would be interested.  The form said it was only for 75 and over but we were told by others to ignore that so we did.  Other friends said they signed up for times on Wednesday and Thursday so I guess we’ll find out if there’s anything not Kosher with this before our time comes.

I sure hope this is legitimate!  Lots of our friends also signed up.  Then I had another moment of euphoria—I read that the Pfizer 2nd dose is 21 days after the first.  If we get our first dose on January 22 then our follow up would be February 12.  From February 15 – 18 we are booked at the Greenbrier.  We made these reservations back in December, hoping that by then we would have at least one of our vaccination shots.  But if we can actually get them both prior that will make for one enjoyable week at the Greenbrier.

Today I also discovered that the Waynesboro News-Virginian had online coverage of local high school basketball just like all newspapers used to.  There was a nice article about the FDHS game last night, complete with pictures, some of Henry.  I immediately completed the online subscription for a year—it was only $26.00.  The digital version also had articles for the previous games, some with box scores.  The only downer to this was when we were in Waynesboro we bought a print copy of today’s News-Virginian expecting to see the article in print form but it was not there. 

WHSV had videos from last night’s game, too.  Henry was mentioned by name on the news as it showed him scoring off an in-bounds play.  It took me a while but I found out how to download the video which I then uploaded to my Vimeo account.  But before I posted it so others could see it I wrote to the WHSV reporter who posted it and asked for his permission.  I just wanted to do this right.

Here’s why I am hesitant to believe we really will be vaccinated next Friday:  today I got an e-mail from the Central Shenandoah Health Department, the place that’s supposed to be coordinating all of the vaccinations in our part of Virginia.  In part, it said, “Beginning, Monday, January 18th, the Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) will make available closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for “Phase 1b” priority groups…. CSHD is also working with our healthcare partners such as hospital systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s), and 10 local pharmacies throughout the district to start vaccinating persons aged 65 and up. More details about these PODs for persons 65 and up will be available soon.”  It’s almost like they didn’t know that Augusta Health was already scheduling vaccinations.  The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing!

I do know that the number of spots posted for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday filled up.  Lynn’s sister Kay waited until this evening to try to sign up but found that there were no spots available.  She has already had COVID-19 so she wasn’t too upset, figuring that she had an immunity already. 

With cautious optimism, Lynn and I celebrated tonight.  After our dinner, we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.   We’re going to try to be especially careful this coming week.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Virginia is just awful:  6,757 new cases in just one day:

January 16          Infected                   Died

World               94,899,870           2,029,380

US                     24,292,811              405,177

Virginia               429,391                  5,706

Augusta County       4,297                       41

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               295,202 (32,059 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,769 (234 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County did a little better than normal, vaccinating 122 more people.  Assuming the Augusta Health schedule is correct, that number will increase.  The schedule we signed up for on Friday, January 22, had 3-4 people scheduled every 5 minutes, 8:00 – 12:00 and 1:00 – 5:00, for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Augusta County currently has 99 people hospitalized with coronavirus.  Tonight I’m feeling mighty lucky to have been able to avoid it for the past ten months.  If only I can make it one more week to get that first vaccination, followed by dose #2 three weeks later!

Nineteen states now have evidence of the United Kingdom mutation of COVID-19.  Virginia is not currently one of them.

Lynn’s back is still not healed.  Almost every afternoon she lies down to rest it.  She says she no longer gets the sharp pangs of pain but it just gets tired and hurts after she has sat in a hard chair for any period of time.  When she is in bed, she can’t lie on her back long.  So one of the things she wants to do once she has been vaccinated is to have a doctor check it out.   She also is supposed to get a bone density test which she has put off until after the vaccination.

Today’s weather was not pretty.  It was cold, windy, and we had blowing snow for parts of the day.  Ann was out shopping during one squall and told us the roads were quite slick.  Thankfully she got home OK.   Before then, I did a trash run which was slowed a little because I had to jump the truck to get it started.  I’ll probably need to get its battery replaced sometime this coming week.

The MegaMillions jackot is now $850 million and the Powerball jackpot is $650 million.  The Powerball drawing is tonight and the MegaMillions is on Tuesday.  We have our tickets for both!  Of course, this is just for fun. 

In tonight’s news, Trump wants his exit from the White House on Wednesday morning to be an elaborate military ceremony with red carpet and “Hail to the Chief.”  I’d think handcuffs would be more in order.   He’s going to in Florida by the time the Inauguration starts.

The news also said by Inauguration Day on Wednesday Washington would have more than 25,000 troops, five times the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  ABC said some of the rioters arrested for the January 6 siege were asking for a pardon from Trump, saying they were just following his orders. 

December 2020: Life in the COVID-19 era

December 1, 2020

Today was the coldest day we’ve had since last winter so, indeed, I did turn on the boiler this morning.  The high for the day was in the 30’s and the wind was fairly stiff, too, which made for cold walking.

I spent the morning at Central though I didn’t get as much done as I hoped.  I had hoped to get the four bank reconciliations done today but first the bank’s website was down then two of the statements which are posted online were late getting there so we got only two of them done.  I wanted to show Savannah how to do these but even the two we did together were problematic because of an error the previous bookkeeper had made plus one I had done last month.  I’m likely going to return on Thursday to get more done.

Meanwhile Lynn had her friends over and they shivered outside.  It will be so nice when we can once again have company indoors!  She and Cheryl Kent did work inside later in the morning on making some porch signs they are going to donate to the local thrift shop, Karis.

Afterwards she and I went on an errand-running short jaunt to Bridgewater.  We had to go to the bank, Dollar Tree, and Walmart.  The reason for the bank stop was to get some cash to give to the Jiminez family.  Gilberto is still in the hospital and Elizabeth is in quarantine so neither is earning any money. 

We ate an early dinner.  Lynn had made pork barbecue which we had with cole slaw and she made macaroni and cheese.  It is no wonder I have gained a few pounds.  I’m certainly not going to be exercising outside in 30 degree weather.

Our plans to watch the last two episodes of Virgin River were thrwarted last night when Netflix didn’t play the recordings correctly.  A message came on the screen to try again later so perhaps we’ll see them tonight.

Tomorrow we have to get up early and get on the road.  We’re slated to wrap presents at The Greenbrier as part of their Christmas gifts program which Central is participating in.  We’ve done this every year for many years.  Usually we end up staying there the night we wrap but not this year.  We’re just going to wrap then come back home.

With the vaccines almost in sight it is easy to start thinking of normal life again.  Of course, it may be several months before this happens, but when it does I promise to not take many things for granted that I did prior to March.  It will be such fun to have our children and grandchildren visit us again.  Faron and Coen haven’t been here since Thanksgiving in 2019.  Thomas and Georgia have been here a few times but haven’t stayed and have generally been outside the whole time.  Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie rarely come inside our house now.  If they do, it’s just a quick stop in our basement to update their PlayStation or print something for school.  It will be so nice to sit here at the kitchen table and hear them giggling together downstairs or getting ready for bed upstairs.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

December 1         Infected                   Died

World               64,116,481           1,484,816

US                     14,069,495              276,452

Virginia               240,063                  4,093

Augusta County       1,231                       12

Just as I had warned, the numbers have jumped a good bit probably because of delayed reporting.  Virginia’s total cases increased by 2,200 and deaths by 31.  Augusta’s cases increased by over 50 and had one more death.  Nationwide, more than 96,000 are hospitalized, a record.

I’ve looked back through my photo album to see when we started this tradition.  It was at least fifteen years ago that Lynn and I started hosting a family Christmas party.  Over the years we outgrew our house and moved it to different venues.  For the past several years it has been at Central.  Lynn always goes to great lengths to plan these parties, each with a theme that she gathers decorations for throughout the previous year.  For many years we’ve hired the same Santa Claus to visit our party and we’ve taken lots of photos with him.  Alas, this year there will be no Hill-Hanger Christmas Party.  The theme was going to be “The Smallest Christmas Tree” which is based on a book Lynn was going to give to each family.  I guess she will just keep that theme for 2021.

ABC news tonight reported that CDC voted today on who should be vaccinated first.  No surprise, those who are to get it first are seniors in nursing and long term healthcare homes and health care workers.  Actually, these are only recommendations; states can decide for themselves who gets the vaccines.  There are 40,000,000 doses expected in December which won’t be enough for everyone in these two categories.

The CDC also recommended today that if you have been exposed to someone positive, if you can get a negative test you only have to quarantine for seven days.  If you can’t get a test, you should quarantine for ten days. 

December 2, 2020

Sure enough, we were on the road south around 7:00 AM this morning.  Our wrapping time at the Greenbrier didn’t start until 10:00 so we had time to stop at three Dollar Tree stores since Lynn was looking for some more Christmas items.  We stopped in Lexington, Covington, then drove to Lewisburg for the one there before coming back to White Sulphur Springs in plenty of time for our appointment.  As always, at the Dollar Tree stores she shopped while I stayed in the driver’s seat.  We stopped for gas in Fairfield where it was only $1.82 per gallon.  The app Gas Buddy always helps us find the cheapest gas when we’re traveling.

The ride on I-64 West is always such a nice ride.  There is never any traffic and the mountainous scenery is great.  The weather was very nice today, too, which just made it a very pleasurable trip. 

We wrapped from 10:00 until 11:30. That’s not a lot but is actually in excess of that which we were required to do for the number of presents Lynn ordered.  She’s ordered over 200 of them; I don’t have any idea how they will be distributed because Central only has around 5-6 children.   But she and Pastor Won have some plan in mind for getting them in the hands of needy children.  We return to the Greenbrier in two weeks to pick them up.

We ate lunch at the Greenbrier.  At least that’s what we can tell our friends.  Actually, we ate our yogurt from the cooler we had taken along with us while still sitting in the parking lot of the place at the Greenbrier where we wrapped.  So technically we ate there though it was far from being the fine dining we’re used to receiving there.

We had to hustle back because Lynn had two Zoom appointments with teachers/students in Rockingham County in the middle of the afternoon.  We got back in plenty of time.  Afterwards, she and her friend Ginny Bauman took a walk in the neighborhood while I picked up Gus and took him to basketball practice at Fort Defiance High School.

I told Gus as we drove there that I hated how teenagers like him had a year of their teens yanked from them by COVID-19.  These students have had little in-person schooling, visitng with friends, ball games, shows, concerts, etc. for nearly a full year.  It’s been a little risky for Henry and him to participate in basketball practice and for Betsy to still do in-person dance lessons in Staunton three nights a week but I’m glad they at least have this. 

I have been given two food/drink advent calendars.  Lynn got me a coffee calendar so every day from December 1 through Christmas I have a new coffee to try in my Keurig.  Today I tried the first one (I’m already a day late) and it was apple pie flavored coffee!  I’ve never had anything like that before.  I don’t know that I’d go out a buy multiple pounds of this yet but it was a different taste than I’m used to.  The other calendar is a jelly calendar from Ann.  She had given me one last year in which every day I get a small jar of a unique jelly for my toast.  I will likely get into this year’s version of this jelly calendar tomorrow.

Lynn hurt her back somehow and has been in pain for the past 24 hours.  It hasn’t stopped her but has slowed her down.  It especially hurts when she bends over to pick something up.  I suppose it’s a muscle injury that will get better over time.

I’ve known her for 46 years.  She’s never been very sick or hurt.  Yet this year she had suffered through a broken foot and now a hurt back.  It is very strange for me to hear her complain about pain.  She takes zero prescriptions and is probably the healthiest person I know.  I’m so sorry she is hurting now.  But she never lets sickness or pain stop her and that’s why she went walking with Ginny this afternoon.

We did finish season 2 last night of Virgin River.  Of course, its final moments left several things up in the air to attract viewers to watch season 3.  I’m sure we will.

Lynn and I were supposed to see two Christmas plays today and one tomorrow at The Barter Theatre.  Of course, these were canceled.  The Barter has been nice enough to take our 2020 tickets and turn them into 2021 tickets.  I sure hope we get to use them to see our allotment of twelve shows in 2021.

Between her pain, Lynn still was able to produce four porch signs over the past two days.  She used her Cricut to create a stencil for the letters she put vertically on each 36” board (NOEL on two and JOY on the other two).  Then she painted the letters and sprayed each board with polyurethane.  These are the boards she is donating to Karis.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are nearly at 100,000 in the US.  Here are today’s statistics:

December 2         Infected                   Died

World               64,742,493           1,496,987

US                     14,270,110              279,320

Virginia               242,480                  4,113

Augusta County       1,262                       12

Same old, same old.

Lynn heard from Elizabeth that Gilberto is doing better at UVA though he still is on the ventilator.  He is improving and may be off the ventilator in one of the upcoming days.

Tonight was Zoom night.  I was also very interested in watching the WVU – Gonzaga basketball game (Gonzaga is ranked #1 in the US) so I texted the kids to see if they wanted to Zoom or not.  Kay suggested we Zoom earlier so we did.

December 3, 2020

The Mountaineers gave Gonzaga a good run for the money last night but they wilted in the last ten minutes.  After leading most of the first 75% of the game, they got into foul trouble and, as always, had trouble hitting jump shots.  They lost 87-82.

ABC news said the last 24 hours were the deadliest since the pandemic began.  There were more than 192,000 new cases and over 100,000 currently hospitalized.  More than 2,800 Americans died which is a record.  Many hospitals are full.  Some states are reinstituting lockdowns. 

Some good news is that Biden has asked Dr. Fauci to stay on in his current role when he takes office.  Everyone who is not an idiot trusts Dr. Fauci. 

As vaccines are about to be rolled out—twenty million Pfizer vaccines will be issued in the US in December if approved by the FDA—the issue still remains of how to convince the anti-vaxers that it is safe.   Former Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama have volunteered to take it on camera if it would help Americans feel safe taking it.  Tonight Biden said he would, too, as long as Dr. Fauci says it is safe.

Lynn’s back has been hurting again today.  She hasn’t abandoned her heavy work schedule but I see her wince in pain frequently, especially when she bends over.  I think this is just a muscle injury that is going to take time to get over but she probably needs to take it easy for a while.

I did banking work at Central UMC today and paid a few bills.  I’m pretty much caught up with my bookkeeping work there.  I’m puzzled as to why we haven’t gotten bills from the credit card companies and will likely investigate that tomorrow.

I will be heading there tomorrow because Lynn and I are going to shop at Costco for Central tomorrow morning during senior hour.  The Food Pantry wants more sugar, coffee, and tea bags.  The custodian Janet wants Chlorox wipes, disinfectant spray, and paper towels.

This afternoon, after Freddie was picked up by Josh from school, we made a quick trip to the Jiminez house in Mt. Solon to take a few things to them since they are all quarantined.  Elizabeth asked us to get some cough syrup for Nathan which we did on the way there.  She hadn’t heard from UVA about Gilberto yet today but that is understood to be good news.

Here are the statistics for today:

December 3         Infected                   Died

World               65,491,337           1,510,729

US                     14,527,346              282,679

Virginia               244,503                  4,147

Augusta County       1,294                       12

I noted above that ABC said the US had over 2,800 new deaths.  According to the site I use, worldometers.info, that number topped 3,300. Virginia had more than 2,000 new cases and 34 deaths in the past 24 hours.

You’d think that by today, over five weeks after Election Day, Trump would have conceded and congratulated Joe Biden for his win.  No surprise, he’s done neither.  He still rants and tweets about “massive fraud” even though his own attorney general and usual bosom buddy, Bill Barr, told the Associated Press that the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election, disputing Trump’s persistent, baseless claims.  Barr’s comments, in an interview with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month’s voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.  Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Lynn and I are planning a quick trip to Arlington this Saturday to drop off some things for Thomas and Georgia as long as her back can make the ride.  We’re not planning on being in Arlington for longer than a half hour.

December 4, 2020

Lynn and I did some brainstorming this evening on what we’ll do when this pandemic is behind us.  Here is a list we came up with in about five minutes:

  1. Go out to eat in restaurants
  2. Go to shows at the Barter Theatre
  3. Travel in and out of the US
  4. Invite family over for dinner
  5. Attend grandkids’ events (ball games, dance shows, etc.)
  6. Go to church
  7. Visit with relatives including those at The Legacy
  8. Take grandchildren to their activities (dance, sports, etc. practices)
  9. Go to Broadway in Richmond shows
  10.  Take classes (sewing, embroidering, etc.)
  11.  Visit with friends and neighbors
  12.  Invite friends into our house
  13.  Shop in stores we’ve been avoiding such as those in Harrisonburg
  14.  Go to the Greenbrier for a couple of days
  15.  Check out the new library in Weyers Cave
  16.  Resume tutoring students and helping in-person at schools
  17.  Offer to present math programs at middle school
  18.  Visit Butch in Ohio and Mary K. in Altoona
  19.  Schedule vacations with kids (Puerto Rico, Lancaster, etc.)
  20.  Arrange to meet Porterfields and Koerners somewhere
  21.  Go to a movie
  22.  Invite grandchildren to spend the night with us
  23.  Volunteer for more things at Central
  24.  Eat lunch with grandchildren at their schools
  25.  Host a big family event (Easter Egg Hunt, Christmas Party, etc.)

I’m sure there are many more things we’ll enjoy but obviously these twenty five are things we’ve missed a lot since mid-March.

We got our monthly statement today from Edward Jones where our retirement money is invested.  We were very much surprised—since Biden was elected our retirement account increased over 6% in must one month.  That’s a phenomenal increase.  I’m sure it won’t change but it does throw cold water on the idea that Biden will cause the stock market to go bust.

Today was Friday so we repeated our new tradition of getting hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  They were delicious, as usual.

We also got official notification that our Medicare Part B prescription drug plan had been successfully switched to an Aetna plan starting January 1.  This will save us lots of money.  We’ve learned that every year we have to evaluate whether to stay with our current plan or change.  Fortunately, the website medicare.gov makes it easy to make that decision.

We tried to line up visiting with some of our family tomorrow because there’s really nothing on our agenda.  Lynn got things ready to take to Thomas and Georgia but today Kay messaged that tomorrow wouldn’t be good for them as they had a full day of activities scheduled.  Then we texted Jim about visiting with him to take some items but he is likewise going to be busy.  He’s proctoring SAT tests all morning.

Today was a wet day.  The temperatures were in the 40’s but it seemed much colder.  If I am this cold with the outside temperature in the 40’s I know I’ll be shivering when the temperature gets in the 20’s and below.

Lynn and I made a Costco run first thing this morning where I got several items for our Food Pantry and she got a few things for our grandchildren.  After returning home, I went on to Central where I got several QuickBooks tasks done.  I like working there on Fridays because it is quiet—both the administrative assistant and custodian work Mondays – Thursdays.

I made a run to the dump in Jim’s truck today.  It ran well.  As always, I stopped at the Gutshall’s to both check on the kids since Fridays are days the youngest three are by themselves all day as well as pick up their garbage.

Augusta County Schools have delayed the start of high school sports again.  Henry will be playing varsity basketball this year and Gus will be playing JV.   Their tryouts are beginning next week, I believe.  Their seasons were supposed to start December 20 but now this has been postponed until January 7.  The varsity will play a 14 game schedule if all goes well.  Only 25 fans will be allowed into the gym to watch but the games will be livestreamed.  I’m looking forward to watching—if the games are actually played.  With COVID-19 so many scheduled events have been called off.

ABC news reported tonight that record highs continue.  This was the deadliest 24 hours yet in the pandemic–2,800 deaths in just one day.  The CDC says people need to wear masks anytime they go indoors outside of their own house and even in their own house if someone there was been exposed.  Virginia was one of 26 states with a record number of hospitalizations in one week.   

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics according to worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

December 4         Infected                   Died

World               66,176,513           1,523,198

US                     14,749,236              285,377

Virginia               247,380                  4,160

Augusta County       1,339                       12

Fifty Augusta County residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.  The spike in these numbers is probably from the Thanksgiving season where people let their guard down and had large family gatherings.   It is quite a spike—Virginia had 2,800 new cases and 23 more deaths.  Augusta County had 45 new cases just in the past 24 hours.

December 5, 2020

The back pain got to be too much for Lynn today so she opted to go to the Urgent Care center.  The one in Weyers Cave is currently closed down due to a COVID-19 outbreak so we had to go into the one in Staunton near Krogers.  We went there first thing this morning.  The doctor there told her it was very likely a strain and prescribed a pain pill and a muscle relaxation medicine.  He did not take x-rays since there was little chance of a broken vertebrae since she had experienced no trauma.  I really think what did her in was helping me lift the pergola swings onto the rafters in the shed.  We were able to pick up her prescriptions at Walgreens on the way home and she took the first dose as soon as she could.

The one issue that contributes to her pain is that she won’t slow down or quit doing things.  Her back doesn’t have a chance to heal.  She really struggles to bend over and can’t pick up anything that hits the floor.  I’ve tried to be helpful.

She and I did go back out mid-afternoon to Costco and to a Dollar General in Weyers Cave.  Again, she refuses to rest though she did come home and lie down.  For one thing, the muscle relaxer apparently was making her sleepy.  Plus, she didn’t sleep well last night.

We chatted with Butch several times this morning and it looks like he’s going to be heading this way tomorrow for a few days.  I hope his visit is as good as it was last month.  We bought a ham, hashed brown potatoes, and some green beans to cook for Sunday night’s dinner.

For me, it was WVU football this afternoon.  The Mountaineers played Iowa State.  They were ranked #9 in the US and the game was in Ames, IA.  The Cyclones were a big favorite to win.  They didn’t disappoint their fans—they kicked my Mountaineers’ butts, 42-6.  They dominated in every aspect of the game.  It was a very poor performance for WVU who couldn’t throw, catch, tackle, or defend.

At halftime, I hustled to Cracker Barrel to pick up the order Lynn called in.  It was our regular $12.76 dinner consisting of country ham biscuits and sides.  What a bargain!

Lynn seems to be doing better thanks to the meds she started taking today.  I think they make her pain more bearable. 

I keep reading more about Trump’s unending work at trying to overturn the election.  Today it was reported that he called the Georgia Governor this morning and asked him to get the Georgia legislature to throw out the election.  Then he tweeted that he would easily and quickly win the election if the Governor and Secretary of State (both Republicans and former Trump supporters) would simply audit the signatures on Georgia’s mail in ballots.  Then he tweeted that “if we win Georgia everything else will fall into place.”  Can’t the man read—he lost Georgia, he lost Pennsylvania, he lost Wisconsin, he lost Michigan, he lost Nevada, he lost Virginia, he lost the election.  He lost the popular vote by over 5,000,000.  The electoral college count is 306 to 232.  He LOST!

For the umpteenth day in a row, I’m cold today.  The outside temperature tonight is 38o and the inside temperature is 70o and I’m sitting in front of our kitchen’s gas fireplace insert with the fire roaring behind me.  I’m wearing a coat on top of my clothes.  I hate to be cold.  It makes me grumpy and depressed.  I eat more, sit more, and grumble more when I’m cold.  I’m no fun to be around when I’m cold.

Here are today’s pandemic stats:

December 5         Infected                   Died

World               66,832,931           1,533,741

US                     14,981,767              287,825

Virginia               251,173                  4,197

Augusta County       1,399                       12

A note on the Virginia Department of Health website said that “the 3,793 new case count reported on Saturday, December 5 is due to some results being backlogged.” 

I used a link on the CNN website today to enter zip codes for the following locations and retrieved these statistics.  Recall that in Virginia the cities (Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Waynesboro) are not considered part of the counties which surround them thus their statistics are separate.

CountyAugustaRockinghamMercer WVAthens OHBlair PA
Population74,70179,44460,48665,936123,842
Density Per Sq Mile7793144131236
Median Income$61,305$59,817$39,372$37,778$47,969
COVID-19 Cases1,3392,4171,4232,2564,725
COVID-19 Deaths123639478
COVID-19 % Infected1.8%3.0%2.4%3.4%3.8%
City/CountyStauntonHarrisonburgWaynesboroMonongalia
Population24,45253,39121,926105,252
Density Per Sq Mile1,2273,0791,465292
Median Income$48,049$43,893$45,738$49,926
COVID-19 Cases1,0243,5296783,490
COVID-19 Deaths133877
COVID-19 % Infected4.2%6.6%3.1%3.3%

Very interesting.  I’m noting that where we live has the lowest % infected and the highest median income of all the locations.  Augusta also has the lowest population density of any of any of these locations.  Mercer County has the lowest population of any of the counties but has more deaths than any except Blair which is twice as large.  Mercer had an outbreak in a nursing home which caused many to die.  Rockingham, though next door to Augusta and similar in population, density, and income, has three times the number of deaths.  Harrisonburg City, with the highest population density, has nearly three times the number of cases of Augusta County though it has a lower population.  Athens has the fewest number of deaths but more population than any of the cities.

Lest I start thinking that we’re relatively safe here in Mount Sidney, I have to admit that we spend a lot of time in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Harrisonburg which are all riskier places than Augusta County.

December 6, 2020

We welcomed a return visit from Butch today.  He got here this afternoon around 3:00 in his new Tesla.  It is an amazing car as he has described it; perhaps tomorrow I can take a ride with him in it.

The weather was good enough to take a walk shortly after he got here so we did our usual two mile hike.  The temperature was around 40 but we had bundled up well and didn’t get cold.  There was no wind which always helps.

Tonight we called Mary K.  She seemed well and coherent.  She is over her COVID-19 scare for the time being since she tested negative last week. 

This morning we stayed home then left in time to get our communion and food from Central at 12:15 PM.  Pastor Won, Millie Brown, and Connie Davis had fixed a lot of food to hand out.  In our bag we got a quart of BBQ, a quart of potato soup, two chicken salad biscuits, a big box of cookies, and a nice tree ornament.  We are lucky to be associated with such nice people.

We also did some shopping at Aldi’s and Kroger for food item for tonight’s dinner.  Lynn fixed a really nice meal consisting of ham, potato casserole, and green beans.  Plus she made Focacia bread.  For dessert we had hot chocolate and some of Millie’s cookies.  There was plenty of ham so we invited Ann to come by and pick up some.  She got some potato casserole and some of the bread, too. 

Lynn also baked two loaves of bread today and a batch of English muffins.  We’ll be eating well for the next few days, for sure.  Jim texted that he would drive up tomorrow to see Butch and pick up some things that were delivered here for his boys. 

I haven’t been in touch with the news today so I’m not sure if anything new is going on.  Here are today’s coronavirus statistics from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

December 6         Infected                   Died

World               67,369,303           1,541,336

US                     15,153,522              288,892

Virginia               255,053                  4,200

Augusta County       1,437                       12

Tomorrow Butch is going to have a look at our funny circuit again.  Oddly, it has been performing fine since it went out then back on two weeks ago.   Our outside Christmas lights come on and go off just as they’re supposed to.   Tonight he also fixed a light that Lynn had brought from her Mom’s apartment which needed its wiring re-worked.

December 7, 2020

I rode with Butch to Staunton this morning in his Tesla.  It is an amazing vehicle—it will literally drive itself, steering, adjusting speed, stopping at lights, etc.  When you stop at a light, it knows when the light turns green and beeps if you don’t start moving forward.  It has something like five camera which keep a close watch on everything near to you in all directions.  Of course, it will park itself.  There is no instrument panel, just a laptop-like touch screen.  You can set it to always stay at the posted speed limit (or always drive +/- x mph from the speed limit) and it will take care of that for you.  He did tell me he paid more for the car than he did for his house which he bought 36 years ago.

We went to Staunton because I had to do the CUMC deposit in QuickBooks since the Counters did their weekly job this morning.  Butch wanted to charge his Tesla; there are eight “super charging” stations at the Sheetz in Staunton.

It took each of us about 30 minutes to get our jobs done so we were soon back at home.  Earlier we had taken a look at the mystery electrical circuit.  As I’ve noted before, the circuit is working fine now and it continued to work fine this morning.  He checked out nearly all of the outlets on the circuit but found nothing suspicious.  Since it was working OK we abandoned further work on it.

In the afternoon, Butch went upstairs to take a short nap and I came to the basement and watched a recorded basketball game WVU played against Georgetown last night.  I knew the outcome before I started (WVU won) and was able to fast forward through the commercials and slower parts of the game.

Lynn’s back is doing better though she did have an upset stomach last night which she blamed as a side effect of her pain medication.  So she stopped taking that pill but still took her muscle relaxing pill.  She stayed busy today fixing pepperoni rolls for Butch to take back to Wiley and sewing some items for him and me.

Tonight we had planned on getting dinner as take-out but it turns out that both of our top two picks, Chicano Boy and The Depot, are closed on Mondays.  So we settled for Italian food from Vito’s in Penn Laird.  Butch paid for it all.

We were joined at dinner by Jim who drove up to eat with us, visit with Butch, and pick up a package for his boys he had delivered here.  It was good to chat together and made me realize how much I miss more family discussions.

America had a million new cases of COVID-19 in the first five days of December, ABC news reported tonight.  Dr. Fauci says Christmas will be worse than Thanksgiving.  An alarming number of health care workers are catching coronavirus, they reported.  ABC also reported that earlier this summer the Trump administration turned down the offer to buy more Pfizer vaccinations and now they’ve been sold to the European Union.  It may be June before the US can buy more of Pfizer’s.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 7         Infected                   Died

World               67,903,938           1,549,620

US                     15,351,692              290,377

Virginia               258,870                  4,208

Augusta County       1,466                       12

When I glance back at this chart in my posts during September or October, it was common then for Virginia’s number of cases from one day to the next to increase by 800 – 100.  From yesterday to today it was 3,817.   We are unquestionably undergoing the worst part of this pandemic.  Yet there is a certain fatigue among Americans about dealing with this.  I admit that Lynn and I have gotten more willing to go into retail stores, especially grocery stores.  I no longer put on gloves to put gas in our vehicles.  Yet our good friend Mary Gooden now has a positive test result though she said she had been nowhere except for a few grocery stores and her part-time work and she has always worn a mask.

This is all scary.  It would be so terrible for us to get COVID-19 now with the vaccine in the foreseeable future after having avoided it so well for the past ten months.

December 8, 2020

Today was a full day of enjoying Butch’s expertise and work ethic.  We ended up doing electrical work all day.  That is, he did electrical work and I watched.  The big issue today was that the wiring had not been done correctly in our kitchen years and years ago so that in order to turn on the main light you had to always turn it off from the same switch it had been turned on from previously regardless of where that switch was.  And since two of the switches were at opposite ends of the room, sometimes you’d have to walk completely across the kitchen, flip a switch, then walk back and flip the original one just to get the light on.  The goal today was to get it so that you could turn the light on/off from any of the three switches without having to touch any others.  It took nearly all day but ended with success.  We ended up buying a new switch from Lowe’s and checking each individual wire to see where it ran to/from.  But he finally got it all figured out.

Along the way there were other issues.  In finding the right breaker for the kitchen light, I flipped off all of the breakers in the box one by one.  One of them wouldn’t turn back on.  He figured out that the breaker was just bad.  Fortunately, we had a spare breaker so he replaced it.  Then our mystery circuit started acting up again with power only to part of the circuit.  Reworking the breaker for that circuit seemed to fix that problem but I’m going to keep my fingers crossed.

Lynn got her hair cut first thing this morning while we started on the kitchen light issue.   She later rode into Staunton in Butch’s Tesla so we could go to Kroger’s and Lowe’s.  Plus we made a stop at Kay Carter’s house to give her a recommendation on how to get an outside outlet installed at her house.  She was as impressed with Butch’s car as I. 

The weather has been too cold to walk outside. From the inside today it looked OK and the temperature was around 40o.  But there was a 10-20 mph cold wind which would have made walking miserable.  By the end of the week we’re supposed to be back in the mid 50’s but it’s a shame the weather was so cold while Butch was here.

Connie also came to clean today.  It was almost comical for all of us to avoid the others as Lynn tried to get her things done, Butch and I worked on the wiring, and Connie cleaned.  But in the end everything worked out.

Josh picked up Freddie today so we didn’t have to decide on whether to let him play in our basement or not.  I think it will be fine for him to do so when it is too cold for him to be outside.  He loves to play Wii.

Lynn’s back seemed to be getting better yesterday but today she was still hurting.  She bought some heating pads from WalGreens this afternoon which are supposed to last 16 hours.  Plus her stomach was a little upset today like it was two days ago even though she quit taking the pain pills that she thought were the cause of her indigestion then.

At 6:00 tonight I had a called Zoom meeting of the Central Church Council.  They wanted to discuss whether to keep the Sunday morning services or put them on pause for a while.  They decided to halt in-person worship services for the remainder of December and all of January.  But they decided to keep the Food Pantry and Trinity Luncheons going.  I think all of those decisions were wise.  All of the morning worship services will still be recorded and posted online.

After the meeting I had to scramble to clean up the minutes I took, send them to Savannah so she can forward to Council members tomorrow, then change the website to show that this decision had been made.

The meeting, minutes, and website work took an hour in total.  That was just enough time for Butch and Lynn to finish watching the news.  So I invited them to come to the basement and watch the first episode of The Queen’s Gambiton Netflix.  Butch hasn’t used his Netflix subscription much but today he was showing me how he can even watch it on his Tesla (when he’s not driving, of course).  While Lynn was in Kroger’s we watched a few minutes of it so I knew he would like the entire episode.  Indeed it was very good.

A Facebook post today listed the Deadliest Days in American History:  1. Galveston Hurricane (8,000 deaths)  2.  Antietam (3,600)  3.  September 11, 2001 (2,977)  4.  Last Thursday (2,861)  5.  Last Wednesday (2,762)  6.  Last Tuesday (2,461)  7.  Last Friday (2,439)  8.  Pearl Harbor (2,403).  This is quite telling…

Here are today’s statistics:

December 8         Infected                   Died

World               68,546,830           1,562,031

US                     15,589,674              293,363

Virginia               262,730                  4,260

Augusta County       1,527                       13

I realize that the worldometers.info numbers differ some from the Johns Hopkins and others but if these numbers are true then Pearl Harbor just got bumped to #9 in the list of deadliest days.  In fact, today would now be in third place for deadliest days.  Virginia had a whopping increase of 3,900 new cases including 61 new ones in Augusta County!  Wow, this thing is getting out of hand.

December 9, 2020

We said goodbye to Butch first thing this morning as he headed back to Ohio.  I really enjoy his company and am so glad he came.  He fixed a lamp, circuit, and an especially tricky light switch setup for us but that’s not why I’m glad he came.  I’m glad he came just to talk and eat together.  I’ve said many times that I wish Athens OH and Mt. Sidney were much closer.  We tried to spoil him so he’d be sure to return—I know he loves Lynn’s cooking.  So do I!

Butch is just a downright decent person.  His heart is in the right place.  He cares for others and is very anxious, capable, and willing to help.  I envy his knowledge of everything.  And I admire his heart.

He texted us mid-afternoon that he had gotten back OK.  Lynn had made pepperoni rolls for Wiley and they were a big hit.  We also gave him some of our ham, English muffins, and delicious mints Lynn had made.

This morning I got a lot of things done at Central.  I got the last two credit cards reconciled and statements paid.  I paid a couple of other bills, processed the payroll for December 15, paid the December taxes, and paid the Pastor’s health insurance and retirement.  I will likely not return to QuickBooks until Monday morning.  Yea!

This afternoon Lynn’s sister Kay came over to do some Cricut work with her so I spent the time in the basement trying to come up with ideas for Lynn for Christmas.  I’m still looking…

I am more worried than I have been in months about COVID-19.  As I’ve been reporting for the past two weeks, the number of cases is just exploding, especially locally.  What a shame it would be to make it this far without catching coronavirus then succumb to it right before vaccinations are doled out.  Sadly, many people are doing just that.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 9         Infected                   Died

World               69,161,253           1,573,600

US                     15,781,776              295,855

Virginia               267,128                  4,281

Augusta County       1,694                       13

Oh my Gosh!  Augusta County just added 167 new cases in just one day.  Virginia added 4,300 new cases in just 24 hours.  It took from the start of the epidemic until June 20 for Augusta County to accumulate 167 cases.  Yet today we added that many in just 24 hours.

Here are some sobering statistics from ABC news:  The last week marks the deadliest week for the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic, with 15,578 deaths — roughly equivalent to 92 deaths reported every hour.  The U.S. is now averaging more than 200,000 new cases each day — three times higher than the country’s summer peak in July, and more than six times higher than the country’s spring peak in April.  There has not been a single day with less than 100,000 daily cases for the last five straight weeks, according to an ABC News analysis of data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.  In the last week alone, the U.S. has reported 1.4 million new COVID-19 cases, more than any other week on record, and equivalent to 1 in every 231 Americans testing positive.  With numerous days now over the 200,000 mark, the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has increased by 87% in the last month.

Here are two completely opposing stories on CNN news:

First, President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to block millions of votes from four battleground states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden.  Trump’s request came in a filing with the court asking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking to invalidate millions of votes cast in four states that went for Biden: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  The President is being represented by a new attorney, John Eastman, who is known for recently pushing a racist conspiracy theory that claimed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was not eligible for the role because her parents were immigrants.

Second, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have now certified their presidential results, according to CNN’s tally, as the Electoral College process moves forward with the meeting of electors on Monday.  West Virginia became the final state to certify its presidential election results Wednesday, formally declaring that President Donald Trump is entitled to the state’s five electoral votes. President-elect Joe Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, and Trump is projected to win 232. It takes 270 electoral votes of the 538 available to become president.  The states’ certifications come as Trump has baselessly claimed that the election was rigged and sowed doubt about the outcome of the presidential race. Dozens of lawsuits challenging the results have been dismissed at the state and federal levels across the country since the November election.  Each state has different processes for certifying results, and some states certified their slate of presidential electors separately from state and local election results.  The next major step in the Electoral College process is the meeting of the electors, who are required by law to convene on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, which this year is December 14. The electors’ votes are later transmitted to officials and counted in a joint session of Congress on January 6.

So one news story is that Trump is still trying to find a way to get the election thrown out while the other says all states have officially certified that the election is over and Biden is the winner.

Tomorrow Pfizer’s vaccine is expected to receive its emergency authorization and vaccines are going to roll out.  This can’t happen too quickly.  ABC news said it will be months before all Americans receive it, of course.  The news reported again tonight that throughout the country, especially in California, hospitals are overflowing and understaffed.  

December 10, 2020

Lynn’s back is not making the kind of improvement we both thought it would.  She was in so much pain this morning getting out of bed that she had tears in her eyes—something she never does.  She had stopped taking the pain pills because she got an upset stomach but today she took this pill again.  Perhaps the upset stomach came because she took it after eating and the directions said to take it with food.

We went to bed early last night and watched two episodes of The Queen’s Gambit.  This means that she was in bed much longer than usual so perhaps her back was just tired of her lying down.  She did not sleep well, though, due to the pain. 

With the high rate of COVID-19 infections in Augusta County now I pledged to stay home more.  Yet by 9:00 this morning I had made three trips out in my car.  The first one was at 6:00 AM.  Today is Freddie’s 7th birthday.  Ann had ordered three dozen donuts for him to take to school from a donut shop in Staunton and she needed me to pick them up.  I did and took them to her house.  When I got home, Lynn picked out some items she needed from Aldi’s.  She had her friends Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent over this morning to sit on the porch so she couldn’t go during the senior hour which started at 8:00.  So I did that errand for her.  She was hurting too much to go anyway.  When I got back, we got a message from Ann that Freddie couldn’t find his mask at school and was given a paper one by his teacher which he didn’t like.  So she contacted Henry who was home since he goes to school on alternate days.  He located Freddie’s mask and I took it to his school for him.  He shouldn’t be unhappy on his birthday! 

I am so glad that I was available to do these errands despite having to be back out again.  On the three trips I was close to no one for more than 15 seconds and then everyone had a mask on.  Aldi’s was practically empty when I shopped there. 

Ann’s family had another thing to celebrate—Henry made the varsity basketball team and Gus made the jayvee team.  So if and when their teams get to play they will be suited up for the FDHS Indians.  I would think that both will see playing time.  Games don’t start until January 7 and if things don’t improve I’m not sure that will happen.  So sad!

A few days ago I listed twenty five things I planned to do once we were vaccinated.  I have since thought of two to add which I should have put high on that initial list:  1) Hug lots of people.  I have missed the physical contact we’ve all had to avoid during this pandemic.  2) Play tennis.  Before March I was playing three or four times each week.  I was in a group of around 15 men who were all good players and nice guys.  I miss both the exercise and the interactions. 

The weather has taken a turn for the better.  The high this afternoon was in the mid 50’s and it was sunny with no wind.  Lynn and I would definitely have walked if it weren’t for her back.  Since the weather was nice I made up another treasure hunt for Freddie so now he had two today—one for his card and another for his present.  The one I made up for his card was an outside one and involved his solving math problems.  The one I made up for his present was an inside one where he read each clue himself.

Freddie got here as scheduled and immediately began his two hunts.  He did pretty well with the math problems I gave him—got almost all of them correct without any help.  He struggled a bit with the reading clues, as we expected.  He definitely needs more practice with reading.  It will come in time.  I took pictures and posted them this evening.

Freddie such a neat kid.  He plays and runs so hard.  I love watching him.  I am extremely glad he is part of my life.

ABC news reported today that more Americans died yesterday from COVID-19, 3,054, than the number who died at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.   The seven-day average of new daily deaths (2,276) also set a record, according to the health data.  “The 7-day average for COVID-19 deaths are at an all-time high as deaths are rising throughout the country. The previous single-day record was on May 7 at 2,769 deaths,” the tracking project tweeted.  Daily hospitalizations also continued to set records as 106,688 Americans are currently hospitalized, according to the data. The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 102,580, another record.  Over 209,000 new coronavirus cases were reported on Wednesday, according to the tracking project.

The pain pills that Lynn took this morning seemed to help her get through the day.  She took another dose at dinner; hopefully she will be able to sleep better tonight. 

The FDA advisory board voted 17-4 to approve Pfizer’s vaccine so I guess it will start rolling out.  In England where it has been given for several days now, two people had an allergic reaction to it.  That made me perk up given my allergies but I think these two were much more at risk than I will be when my time comes.  For example, I understand they both had EpiPens which I’ve never had the need of.

Here are today’s grim numbers:

December 10       Infected                   Died

World               70,677,500           1,587,428

US                     16,021,370              299,584

Virginia               271,043                  4,335

Augusta County       1,906                       14

This is still scary.  August County added another 212 new cases in the past 24 hours.  In the same news, Elizabeth Jiminez texted Lynn tonight that Gilberto had a bad day today.  I am very fearful of what will happen to him.  That family needs him so much. 

With all the record infections and deaths in America, you’d think our current President would be working non-stop to try to help.  Instead, today he hosted a large party at the White House, completely disregarding the CDC’s recommendation for avoid this type of gathering.  Pictures of the event showed few masks.  Plus, he is still pushing this far-fetched suit placed in Texas which he hopes will end up in the Supreme Court who will some way side with him in disregarding the millions of fair votes cast. 

January 20 could be the most significant day in our personal future.  First, we’ll be getting rid of the worst President that I’ve ever lived under.  Second, perhaps by that time the number of available vaccines will be high enough that people in my age group will start to be vaccinated.  I hope I make it that long….

December 11, 2020

Today was another fairly warm day for mid-December, warm enough for Lynn and I to take an afternoon walk.  It felt really good.  I was a little worried if she could make it or not given her back issues but she did well.  She’s been taking the pain pills the last few days and that has helped. 

The news about Gilberto Jiminez has not been good.  Elizabeth told Lynn this morning that his lungs were severely damaged and it would take a miracle for him to survive.  Lynn asked her what they needed and she gave her a short list of things to pick up so we quickly headed to Verona to get what she asked for then take them to her.

You could see the worry and anxiety on her face as she emerged from her house.  Lynn wanted to hug her but didn’t dare get close.  She had tears rolling down her cheeks and told Lynn she hadn’t told her children how serious her husband’s condition was.  I’ve prayed for Gilberto many times in the past few weeks but none more than today.  I hope he can somehow overcome this terrible disease and return to his loving family.  Thoughts about him have dominated my day as I’m sure they have Lynn’s.

I did my usual Friday run to the dump today with a stop at the Gutshall’s house.  Gus, Betsy, and Freddie all helped me load their trash.  They seemed to be doing OK by themselves.

This afternoon was very boring.  I worked lots of Whirly Word puzzles and played many solitaire games.  Besides our two mile walk I didn’t do anything worth writing about.

I have kept my eyes on the news today because I am concerned about the case presented to the Supreme Court.  This morning I learned that our representative, Ben Cline, had signed on with Trump to support this ridiculous lawsuit.  I rarely post things on Facebook but this just put me over the top so I posted that “It is embarrassing and infuriating that the man who represents me and 750,000 others in the 6th district of Virginia would sign on to a frivolous lawsuit intended to overturn the will of the people in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia. The people in those states legally voted and selected Joe Biden for President. Just because Cline and other Republicans are not happy that they are in the minority of voters of America does not mean it is OK for them to want to overturn our American institution of voting. Shame on him.”

We decided to do our family Zoom today instead of Wednesday and it worked out well.  All the families were on.  Actually we had five simultaneous views because Ann joined from her car.  It was great to see everybody.  The only ones we didn’t see were Henry and Gus who both had basketball practice now that they’re on the varsity and JV teams.

This was Friday so we continued our tradition of getting hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  Lynn had her usual bacon jalapeño burger and I had my philly cheeseburger.  As always, we got an order of fries and brought everything back home to eat.

Lynn and I are planning on driving to Arlington tomorrow to take several things to the Foys.  We’ll leave in late morning and return before it gets dark, hopefully.

Here’s a storyline from ABC that I’m having to repeat way too often:  the U.S. has set new records for the most deaths in one week, the highest number of new cases in a week and the most Americans hospitalized in one week, according to ABC News’ analysis of COVID Tracking Project data.  In the past seven days, the U.S. has reported more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases — roughly equivalent to 142 Americans testing positive for the virus every minute.  Daily case numbers have been on the rise for nearly three months, increasing nationally by 480% since mid-September.  The U.S. broke a hospitalization record again on Thursday, surpassing 107,000 patients, a 6.5% rise from a week earlier. Fifteen states have reported record numbers since Sunday.  With the U.S. is now averaging over 2,300 new coronavirus related deaths a day, more Americans are dying from COVID-19 every day than ever before.  “We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Thursday at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.  In the 9/ll attacks, almost 3,000 Americans died, and more than 2,400 were killed when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Here are the statistics from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

December 11       Infected                   Died

World               71,342,867           1,599,460

US                     16,235,934              302,179

Virginia               274,438                  4,370

Augusta County       1,933                       16

Virginia’s daily total number of infections increased by well over 3,000.  Augusta County added two more deaths to its total in the past 24 hours even though it added only 27 new cases.

Tonight we got the great news that the Supreme Court had rejected to even hear the court case brought by Texas to overturn the elections in the four battleground states.  My confidence is restored in the Supreme Court.  Even Trump’s appointees to the Court opted to reject his case.  Hallelujah!

You’d think this story is over now but remember this is Donald Trump.  I have to wonder what his next move will be.  This I know for sure—it won’t be a concession speech.

December 12, 2020

I got on the scales today for the first time in a few weeks.  Ugh!  I have gained over six pounds.  With us being trapped in our house due to cold weather and COVID-19, the only way I’m going to drop a few pounds is to eat less and I love to eat! 

I’m still celebrating the Supreme Court case from yesterday.  Prior to their decision to not even accept the case, Trump had tweeted “If the Supreme Court shows Great Wisdom and Courage, the American People will win perhaps the most important case in history and our Electoral Process will be respected again!”  The most important case in history didn’t even make it in the door…  Thank goodness the Court hasn’t caught the lose-your-brain sickness that his followers have contracted.

As I noted yesterday, his followers included 125 Republican members of the Congress who signed on to the bogus lawsuit from Texas.  Our representative, Ben Cline, was one of those.  In the past, he has been quick to say Democrats are out to take your guns away.  It looks to me like Republicans like him are out to take your voting rights away.

Lest any of us starts thinking that the hardcore Republicans will finally accept defeat, a Facebook post reminds us that those who fly the Confederate flag are proof that some people never get over losing.

Lynn got some good news last night from Elizabeth Jiminez.  Elizabeth texted her that Gilberto was doing a little better and even said the doctors told her he would survive.  I certainly hope this is true; it would be answered prayers.

While I lounged this morning, Lynn was working on a craft—duplicate stitching some items for Christmas presents she plans to give.  Her hands just can’t stay still.  I guess mine are always on a keyboard but hers are always doing something more creative.  And her hands are usually doing something for someone else.  Her heart is superb.

We finished The Queen’s Gambit last night.  I’m not sure what we’ll watch next.  I will say that the pandemic has caused us to use our Netflix subscription a lot.

Pfizer vaccines are starting to roll out today from their plant in Michigan to 600 locations across America.  I’m curious to see how long it will be before staff at Augusta Health and Sentara in Harrisonburg receive theirs.  Frankly I just hope there will be transparency so that we’ll know these facts.

With Ann’s help I’ve been working on getting a few Christmas presents for Lynn.  Christmas is such an important season to her so I really don’t want her to be disappointed.  Ann is helping me by placing Amazon orders shipped to her house for which I’ll repay her.

For the 45 years I worked, I needed an alarm at 6:00 AM to wake me up.  Now that I am retired with nowhere to go in the mornings, you’d think I’d sleep in much later.  The fact is I wake up around 5:00 AM each morning and frequently am up before 6:00.  No alarm needed.  I have been sleeping well lately so I am not complaining.  I typically dream about being in some kind of a teaching situation where I am unprepared for the lesson.  Last night my dream was that I was prepared to teach but the technology in my room didn’t meet my needs.

We left for Arlington mid-morning.  Our lunch on the way consisted of ice cream at Smiley’s.  We also picked up a ice cream cake for Andy which we took to them.  It was a relatively short visit but successful one.  We delivered clothes to Georgia from Betsy, a present Kay had ordered and was sent here, and some crafts which Lynn put together for Thomas and Georgia.  We had time for her to do some of the crafts with them on their back porch.

Lynn drove both ways and her back seemed to hold up well.  We got back near 5:30. On our way back we stopped at Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird and picked up our favorite pizza (the Soprano) which was our dinner tonight and will likely be tomorrow night’s also.

Tonight’s news is more of the same—record COVID-19 infections, deaths, and hospitalizations.  For so many people the vaccine will be too late.  Here are today’s statistics:

December 12       Infected                   Died

World               72,052,883           1,610,519

US                     16,521,948              304,930

Virginia               278,615                  4,409

Augusta County       2,012                       16

The number of cases in Virginia is still increasing.  Today there were 4,200 new cases in just one day.  There were 39 new deaths.  In Augusta County there were 79 new cases in just one day.  There are 54 Augusta County residents hospitalized. 

Tonight was the annual UVA – VT football game.  It started at 8:00 which is our normal bedtime so we turned it on with plans to watch as much as we could before falling asleep….

December 13, 2020

I watched the first quarter and the last five minutes of the UVA – VT game last night.  Tech prevailed, 33 – 15.  Henry will be happy but not Gus.  WVU was supposed to have played Oklahoma yesterday but the game was canceled due to COVID-19.  So WVU ended up with a 5-4 record.  UVA’s was 5-5 and VT’s was 5-6.  All three had average years.

Today was a typical Sunday; I played the piano for the Bible Study group at Central.  Lynn did lots of craft work.  She’s working on a project for Christmas gifts.  I won’t tell what.  Then she walked with Ginny Bauman.  The weather was sunny with the temperature considerably warmer than usual, 60o, but it was fairly windy.

Lynn and I did a little Christmas shopping today.  That is, we ordered items from Amazon.  Thank goodness for Amazon this year.  We’re not about to be going from store to store with the pandemic boiling right now.

The Electoral College meets tomorrow and will certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.  Though this is somewhat ceremonial, I’ll still be happy when this has been done and even happier on January 6 when Congress officially counts these votes and announces him as the winner.  Until then, there’s no doubt in my mind that Trump will continue to undermine the process, sow discord, whine, plot, tweet, and encourage his brainless followers to ignore the law and the will of the majority.

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

December 13       Infected                   Died

World               72,618,391           1,618,437

US                     16,728,586              306,429

Virginia               281,909                  4,411

Augusta County       2,103                       16

The numbers aren’t as high as they were yesterday but maybe that’s just because today is Sunday and all of the data didn’t get reported.  Virginia still had over 3,000 new cases though only two more deaths. 

Lynn and I walked at Gypsy Hill today.  We both wore our masks the whole time; the park was crowded.  We also learned today that her good friend Mary Gooden has now made a complete recovery from COVID-19.  Mary didn’t tell Lynn she was positive until she was cleared to go back to work.  However, the news from Elizabeth Jiminez wasn’t so good today.  Elizabeth said that they were “praying for a miracle” for her husband.  I really, really hope he pulls through. 

There’s a big snow supposedly coming this Wednesday—quite a change from today’s 60 degree weather.  We were scheduled to pick up our Greenbrier Christmas presents that day but they’ve already rescheduled our pickup to Tuesday so we can beat the snow.  One forecast has us getting 8-12 inches of the white stuff.

December 14, 2020

We made an early trip to Costco today to grab some items during the senior citizen hour there.  The items I have been trying to buy for Central UMC still weren’t available:  paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and disinfectant spray.  But we got several other items including a few Christmas presents.  The store opened just before 9:00 and we were driving home at 9:08 so I don’t think we compromised ourselves with this visit indoors.  Today was an ugly, cold, rainy day so there were few people shoppers at Costco.

After that, I was able to get several chores done this morning at Central.  I recorded playing the piano for one song which I had agreed to do for the Christmas Eve service (now virtual) and also recorded a scriptural reading I was assigned for that service.  Then I went to the Treasurer’s Office and paid four bills, updated the Schwab investment spreadsheet, and did the weekly deposit that the Counters had done before I got there.  Meanwhile, Lynn worked with Cheryl Kent on some Cricut projects of Cheryl’s.

In the afternoon, we drove to Waynesboro for a few stops.  First, we went to Michael’s where Lynn bought some items for a Christmas present.  Then we went to WalMart where she bought some yogurt.  Finally, we stopped at her student’s home to drop off groceries she had collected for him from the Central Food Pantry.

Lynn was upset today because we both were negligent in ordering something she has been wanting—a patio heater—from Costco only to find out that now it is no longer available.  Last week it was available but we just didn’t get it ordered.  Furthermore, patio heaters are nowhere to be found at Lowe’s or Home Depot now.  She wanted it for the weekly meetings she has with Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent and also for Christmas this year since we’ll likely not have other family members in the house thanks to COVID-19.  I’m not 100% convinced that this is a good investment, though.  It may be that we’ll be vaccinated in January which means that it would only get a few weeks of service.  I know that once she and her friends have been vaccinated they’ll meet inside on a cold day.  All of us are in the 65+ age group which is supposed to be the second set of people to be vaccinated.

The first set, health care workers, began getting their vaccinations today.  I heard on the news that they really do hope to get all of these workers plus those in nursing homes vaccinated by the end of December.  If that’s true, and we’re the next group, I would think that perhaps ours would come during January.  I hope this is correct.  But a later news story said it would be months before the general public receives vaccination.

Today the Electoral College cast its votes.  As expected, Biden won 306 – 232.  Will the Republicans finally admit defeat?  Well, have the Confederate flags disappeared?

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

December 14       Infected                   Died

World               73,158,997           1,627,168

US                     16,922,438              307,924

Virginia               285,149                  4,414

Augusta County       2,352                       16

Virginia’s death count only went up by only three but the case count went up 3,200.  Our friend Mary who has now recovered from it said it well when talking to Lynn, “it’s everywhere…”   I think that we’re like survivors on a life raft with the helicopter in sight but the raft has an ever-increasing hole in it.  The news tonight featured several people getting the vaccine today but the news also predicted that by the new year we’d have over 360,000 deaths in the U.S. 

The long term effects of COVID-19 are unknown since the virus is so new.  Yesterday a star basketball player for the University of Florida who had coronavirus this past summer collapsed on the court and is in critical condition in the hospital.  The question is what kinds of heart damage can it cause.

December 15, 2020

Today was the calm before the storm.  The weather forecast is that snow will begin tomorrow morning and accumulate 4” – 8”.  I do suppose we’ll be locked in the house starting then for at least a day.  The meteorologist on TV3 reported that we may get more sleet and less snow.  Either way the roads will be a mess so we’ll hunker down.

We were supposed to pick up the presents from the Greenbrier that Lynn had signed Central UMC up for tomorrow, but given the forecast they moved the pickup to today.  Our scheduled time wasn’t until 4:45 which would have put us back in Staunton very late.  We had nothing else scheduled this afternoon so we headed to White Sulphur Springs at 1:00, making a couple of stops in Staunton on the way. 

We pulled up to the location where we had wrapped presents and were very pleasantly surprised to find that they were fine with us coming nearly two hours ahead of schedule.  The distribution of presents was arranged much better than usual this year.  All we had to do was to back Lynn’s car up to the location and the volunteers there loaded every present into her car.  We didn’t have to leave our seats!  I was very skeptical that 237 presents would fit in Lynn’s Rav4 but the presents weren’t large ones and they fit in easily.

We got back to Central by 5:00, unloaded the presents, then sorted them by gender and age.  We put signs on each stack were done by 5:30, way ahead of the time I thought we’d finish.  To celebrate we went to Bojangle’s drive-thru for dinner.  I got a chicken dinner and Lynn got a country ham biscuit and a pimento cheese biscuit.

This morning I worked more on an idea I had for a present for Lynn for Christmas.  I actually got it printed and wrapped.  She had a Zoom session with a Rockingham County pre-school student.  Our Christmas shopping has been aided by Amazon.  I think Lynn has presents for most of the grandchildren.  At least she’s ordered them.

The news is all about people getting vaccinated.  Supposedly Augusta Health will start vaccinating its health care workers tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 isn’t pausing while this is going on.  Here are today’s numbers:

December 15       Infected                   Died

World               73,728,188           1,639,535

US                     17,099,429              310,359

Virginia               288,309                  4,470

Augusta County       2,414                       19

The increase of 3 in Augusta’s County’s deaths is the highest single day increase since I’ve been reporting these statistics.  Augusta had 62 new cases.  There are currently 57 Augusta Coujnty residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  Virginia had over 3,000 new cases and 56 more deaths.  Nationwide, the numbers were down a little but still much more than what we had this summer.  And, ABC reported that the number of hospitalizations set a new record today, over 110,000.  Since Thanksgiving, the number of deaths per day has increased 69%.

The news did say that Moderna is nearing the completion of its testing so soon we may have two vaccinations available for the public.  There’s a chance that Moderna will have its emergency use authorization by the end of this week.  Moderna’s vaccine, like Pfizer’s, has been shown to be very effective. 

We took a chance today that we’ll get our vaccine before the end of February.  The Greenbrier announced that it will have its cheap “Tribute” rates for the week of February 15 – 19.  We took a chance and reserved staying there February 15 – 18.  The reservation is non-refundable.  Paul and Sandy Porterfield are going to make the same reservation.

Mitch McConnell finally recognized Joe Biden as the President-Elect today, 43 days after the election.  It took the Electoral College count yesterday to make him finally admit Biden’s victory.

Lynn’s back is doing better.  She’s had some indigestion issues perhaps caused by the pills she’s been taking for her back pain but overall her health is improved.  I can’t overstate how unusual 2020 has been where there have been two times, broken foot and strained back, where she has been in much pain and distress.  She has always been extremely healthy and fit.

Earlier this month we bought a bushel of juice oranges from Broadway High School’s agriculture department thanks to Ann.  I’ve been fixing fresh orange juice almost every morning for Lynn and me.  This year the oranges are very sweet.  We’ve enjoyed this addition to our breakfast, for sure.

December 16, 2020

I forgot to include my high point of the day yesterday.  It was a text from Josh about Freddie.  We had texted him to make sure he was picking Freddie up since we were out of town when the bus arrived.  Here’s what he shared: “He also said that he was answering lots of math questions & his teacher asked him to give others a chance. He said that he probably will be a math teacher like granddaddy that specializes in adding. He likes plus better than take away.”

Gus brought his PlayStation over last night to be updated using our internet connection.  Actually he got here after Lynn and I were in bed watching TV.  This morning I had a text from him asking me to power it off so his Mom could pick it up this morning.  The schools had already been called off and I knew he’d want to have it at home today.  But with the temperature in the 20’s and the forecast of multiple inches of snow coming early today I decided to run it over to their house before the snow started.  I got back around 7:30 and it wasn’t ten minutes until the snow started falling.  I’m so glad I didn’t wait on one of his parents to try to pick it up because the snow immediately stuck to the roads due to the cold.

Lynn worked on wrapping Christmas presents all morning.  At least this snowfall has helped her get ahead of schedule since there’s still nine days until Christmas.  By mid-morning the snow had turned into sleet.  This made it all the more important for us to stay inside.

Lynn had purchased a large container of oatmeal for a recipe a few weeks ago.  I decided to try to make a bowl today just because it was available.  It turned out to taste great.  I remember that my Dad used to eat oatmeal almost every day.  I thought of him as I ate mine today. 

There’s a commercial on TV which makes fun of people turning into their parents.  I always thought that the three of us looked a lot more like Mom than Dad.  But sometimes when I’ve put on my reading glasses then glanced into a mirror I can see Dad looking back.  As I’ve done the bookkeeping for Central I’ve thought about him and his excellent accounting skills.

It turns out the snowfall was somewhat of a bust.  We had lots of freezing rain and sleet today but probably no more than two inches of snow, if that.  The roads are a mess but at least there’s not a lot of heavy snow to shovel.  It is supposed to warm up to 40o tomorrow so perhaps the ice will melt.  Schools in the area are called off again tomorrow, though.

The same thing happened in Roanoke.  Jim called us via Facetime this morning.  His boys were disappointed that they had rain because they were hoping to play in the snow.  We had a period of time this afternoon where the snow came down really hard but it didn’t seem to accumulate any.

I had news today of a family member in pretty bad shape with COVID-19.  My first cousin, David Dean, lives in Charleston WV and is a retired police officer.  He is two years younger than I am.  His sister Marjorie posted about him today and I am reproducing her entire post here: 

Wednesday last week my brother David went to the ER at Thomas Hospital with shortness of breath and extreme weakness. He was positive for Covid and has been hospitalized since then. I think he will be one of the lucky ones who do not die, and he is not on a ventilator, but the misery is unimaginable. His caregivers are limited as to how much time they are allowed in his room and they are stressed, exhausted, overextended, and very much at risk. I am helpless. You do not want this, and you do not want to do anything to risk the suffering of others. If you have gotten away with risk so far, you are lucky. But stop, now. Do not put your family and others through the consequences of your contracting this cruel disease. If you plan to travel, cancel. If you plan to go to someone’s home during the holidays, or have anyone else in your home, including children or parents who do not live with you, cancel. If you love the Lord, remember the commandment to love your neighbors and pray at home, not at church. This is the home stretch, and a loving person will do the unselfish thing and make sacrifices now to avoid putting others through the consequences of your becoming sick. This is not an issue of individual choice. It is an issue of right and wrong. If you are alone and depressed Christmas, send me a message and I will call you. It will still be Christmas, and may the blessings of the holiday season be with you.

Our Christmas tree is getting dry and somewhat weepy and there’s still nine more days to go before Christmas.  I confess I forgot to make a fresh cut on the bottom of it when I brought it home and it’s too late to do that now.  It just doesn’t drink water like those we’ve had in the past.  There’s plenty of water in its base but it doesn’t seem to take any of it.  I’m afraid it will be coming down shortly after Christmas.  It is a pretty tree and looks good from the road but up close it looks somewhat sad.

ABC news tonight reported that for the tenth straight day COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a new high, more than 112,000.  Some hospitals are out of ICU space.  All this is happening while Moderna’s vaccination may achieve emergency authorization tomorrow.  Supposedly there are nearly 6,000,000 Moderna vaccines ready to be distributed.  ABC said there were 3,019 deaths yesterday.

Here are today’s numbers:

December 16       Infected                   Died

World               74,471,110           1,653,829

US                     17,353,637              314,176

Virginia               292,240                  4,508

Augusta County       2,436                       19

Virginia had almost 4,000 new cases again.  At least Lynn and I didn’t put ourselves in jeopardy today.  She didn’t leave the house and the only times I did were to take the PlayStation to Gus and to check the mail.

December 17, 2020

The snow stopped and although the temperature was around 25o our wonderful neighbor Bee Myers plowed our driveway this morning.  I finished off the job by shoveling around our cars and our sidewalks.  At least the wind wasn’t blowing so it was bearable. 

Bee shared with me that he had tested positive for COVID-19 several days ago.  He has finished his quarantine now and never did have any symptoms.  He said that he and Janet had visited with her daughter who apparently passed it along to him though Janet tested negative.

Later in the day Lynn’s sister Kay reported that she has been battling a terrible cough lately as have her son and daughter, David and Donna.  This is fearsome as so did Nathan Jiminez who had a positive case of COVID-19.  Kay went to CVS in Waynesboro this afternoon and got a COVID-19 test.  I guess we’ll know in a few days….  She gets her results back in 48 hours.

As I have written many times over the past eight months, it just seems like COVID-19 is stalking us, getting closer all the time.  Now the neighbor directly across the street and possibly one of Lynn’s siblings has tested positive.  Are we next?

Nonetheless, we had some things to pick up for Christmas so once the roads cleared a little we headed for Harrisonburg.  We really want to get everything taken care of for Christmas early this year since we don’t know what the future holds.  We were able to take care of our banking, buy some jewelry for Betsy, and then shop at Costco.  At Costco, we found many great bargains in the clothes section so we loaded up for the grandchildren.  I even bought four coats for Central’s Clothes Closet because they had winter coats for $5!  We also bought some cough syrup for Kay which we dropped by her home while she was still waiting to be tested at the CVS.

Lynn and I also decided to go to Charlottesville tomorrow.  We had some jewelry held for us there for Betsy and she has some gift cards to pick up for her Waynesboro student from her Migrant Ed boss.  We’ve gotten our shopping done for all of the grandchildren except Henry so maybe we’ll find something there for him, too.

It would be nice to get all of our shopping behind us then hunker down for the days prior to Christmas.  I really hope we can avoid lots of social contacts in the near future.

ABC News said tonight that Moderna’s vaccine had been recommended for emergency use authorization by the FDA.  However, it also reported that today was the deadliest day in the pandemic with 3,600 new deaths.   Today is the 11th straight day of record hospitalizations.

December 17       Infected                   Died

World               75,214,519           1,666,844

US                     17,587,663              317,451

Virginia               296,093                  4,553

Augusta County       2,497                       19

Augusta County has 57 people currently hospitalized.  See what I mean when I say it is stalking us?

I know my writings throughout the past eight months have largely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.  I’m both more worried than ever and more confident that this battle can be won especially since there are two approved vaccines now.  I guess I’m like a soldier in a fox hole worried with the enemy rapidly approaching but knowing that there are lots of reinforcements on the way.  Lynn and I have tried to be careful though I know there are some people who are even more careful than we are.  We always wear masks in public.  We avoid any types of assemblies.  Yet I know that many of the 17.5 million Americans who have caught this awful virus have been careful like we have been.

The political news has certainly dropped off dramatically.  Trump still spouts his lies but fewer and fewer people seem to be listening to him now.  He’s done for!  I did get an e-mail today that said one of the Republican candidates for governor in Virginia yesterday said Trump should declare martial law and overturn the Biden win in Virginia.

December 18, 2020

One week until Christmas!  We’re almost done with our shopping and added a few more items today.  Lynn has kept up with wrapping which means this year is the earliest she’s ever got her wrapping done.  That’s one good thing about having your hands tied at home due to COVID-19, I suppose.

Even though the temperature was in the low 30’s, Lynn’s friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright came over to visit outdoors today for 90 minutes.  They bundled up on the back porch.  In the future we’ll have some relief for days like this because last night Lynn found a patio heater available on Costco’s website and ordered it.  It won’t be here until after Christmas, though.

I worked a long time on my 2021 calendar today.  The process is to 1) look through all the 2020 photos on my downstairs iMac and select any which looks good for the calendar.  I always select way more than will fit in the calendar but that’s OK.  2)  Using the app Photos, select to create a new project, the 2021 calendar.  3)  Copy each of the photos under consideration onto the newly created project.  4)  Select the calendar dates to be added (Hill birthdays & anniversaries, Hanger birthdays & anniversaries, and Hill-Hanger birthdays & anniversaries plus US Holidays).  5)   For each month, select the layout of photos you want (e.g., 4 per page, 5 per page, 7 per page, etc.)  6) Drag the photos from the project onto the calendar   7) Edit the photos by zooming in, cropping, etc.  8) Double check everything multiple times to make sure no one’s birthday or anniversary has been left off.  8) Save the calendar as a .pdf file   9) Transfer the .pdf to a USB stick and take it to Staples to be printed.  I usually create three calendars:  Hill Calendar, Hanger Calendar, and Hill-Hanger Calendar.  This year I decided to do the photos a little different.  Instead of trying to get a mix of photos on each month, I’ve dedicated the photos for a particular month to whomever has a birthday that month.  For example, January has pictures of Coen, July has pictures of Lynn and Kay, and December has pictures of Freddie.  Months like March and October with no family birthdays have a mix of photos.  I’m up to step 8) now for the Hill-Hanger 2021 Calendar.  It’ll be easy to create the other two by simply duplicating the Hill-Hanger one then, for example, deleting Hill birthdays and anniversaries to create the Hanger 2021 Calendar.

I’ve created calendars for many, many years.  It’s one of my favorite projects.  I’m not crafty like Lynn who is able to create many cool things for people, but I am an experienced calendar maker!

This afternoon Lynn and I drove to Charlottesville where we picked up some jewelry the store was holding for us there.  This item wasn’t available in Harrisonburg.  Then we went to the Albemarle County Migrant Education Office where Lynn picked up a gift card for her Waynesboro student.  Then we drove to Costco and found more bargains for Christmas. 

We got home in time for me to run to Central UMC and pay a few bills.  Then I came back home and we had our traditional Friday dinner—hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike Market.

WVU played Iowa State tonight in basketball.  It didn’t start until 9:00 but I was determined to stay awake for the entire game.  I’m usually asleep shortly after 9:00.

Today’s COVID-19 news is more of the same…the deadliest week yet.  With large family Christmas gatherings coming up, the spread may get even worse.  Virginia’s numbers are once again way too high:

December 18       Infected                   Died

World               75,938,113           1,679,746

US                     17,842,541              320,380

Virginia               299,388                  4,598

Augusta County       2,536                       19

Tonight’s news on ABC said that Moderna’s vaccine is ready to go.  The FDA will likely grant emergency approval at any moment.  This vaccine is 94.1% effective against COVID-19 and can stop asymptomatic spread of it, too. 

December 19, 2020

In any other year, today would be busy from dawn until late night as we’d be preparing for our family party.  Not so this year, of course.  Instead, neither of us had much on our agenda.  Lynn did go to Waynesboro to do some shopping at Michael’s and I made my weekly trash run.

I did manage to stay up and watch all of the WVU – Iowa State basketball game last night.  The Mountaineers won the tight game, 70-65, coming from behind in the last minute to win.  As usual, they struggled with being able to shoot, making only 38% of their field goals including a lousy 21% of 3-pointers.  They’re a hard team to watch as I’ve said in the past.

We got a package from Butch yesterday and elected to open it early.  It was an electric mattress heating pad.  He had told us about his and how warm it keeps his bed so he bought one for us.  What a nice brother!  I called him today to thank him.  We put it on tonight so tomorrow I will report on how warm it kept us.

I also called Mary K. to find out when Vic and Amy’s baby is due.  It turns out that it is tomorrow!  She said that she will be induced if he doesn’t come by Monday.  I will be happy to add this new birthday to our calendar!

Donald Trump has been out of the news lately.  Perhaps he’s trying to find another way to challenge the election.  A Facebook post I liked today said this, “Where is Trump?  A Massive Breach of our Federal Agencies?  Where is Trump?  300,000 + COVID deaths.  Where is Trump?  Americans desperately in need of relief as poverty and unemployment soar.  Where is Trump?”  The Staunton newspaper had a great page today featuring a very critical editorial of Trump entitled “A threat to our constitutional order.” 

Another Facebook post that hit home was one that said, “December 7, 1941:  A day that will live in infamy…  2,403 deaths.   September 11, 2001:  America’s darkest day… 2,977 deaths.  December 9, 2020:  Just another Wednesday.  3,124 COVID deaths.”

We had news on two local COVID-19 cases today.  Lynn’s sister Kay called today after she had received the call—she tested positive.  She told Lynn earlier today she had lost her sense of taste so it wasn’t a surprise.  But we had some good news, too.  Elizabeth said that Gilberto was taken off the ventilator today.  That is really great news.

So here’s how close COVID has come to us so far:  Our previous neighbor Mary Gooden had it and has recovered now.  The neighbor directly across the street, Bee Myers, has now recuperated from it.  Our friends the Jiminez family has at least two family members who have been infected including Gilberto who has spent nearly a month on a ventilator.  And now Lynn’s sister Kay has tested positive and her daughter Donna very likely is positive, too.  For months we could hardly name anyone who had it though the pandemic was widespread in the US.  Now it is hitting much closer to home.

Here’s the news from ABC.  It sounds like a broken record:  The United States reported a record high of 249,709 new COVID-19 cases Friday — just shy of a quarter-million — according to updated data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Also, according to The COVID Tracking Project’s Friday evening update, a record 114,751 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus, marking the thirteenth straight day that the nation has hit a record high of current hospitalizations.  Additionally, 2,814 deaths were reported Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.  By all metrics, this week has been the worse since the pandemic began in terms of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 19       Infected                   Died

World               76,548,202           1,690,163

US                     18,038,833              322,648

Virginia               302,972                  4,643

Augusta County       2,589                       22

Augusta County had three more COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours.  Virginia had 3,600 new cases and 45 more deaths.  I don’t know how comforting it is, but when you compare the number died to the number infected, the world’s death rate is 2.2%, the US rate is 1.8%, the Virginia rate is 1.5% and Augusta County’s is 0.8%.  Personally I’m not that comforted…

December 20, 2020

This is the eight month mark for my blog.  I’ve written 375 single spaced pages of Word.  I suspect that you would find some reference to the pandemic on every one of the 375 pages.  I wish today had better news but it is more of the same.

Lynn and I are committed to being in public less for the next several weeks.  I know that we’ve averaged at least one store per day for weeks and weeks and I confess that I did go to Martin’s today because we did not get our newspaper delivered as it was supposed to have been so I went there to get one for Lynn.  Lynn didn’t leave home all day.

She’s been doing various craft projects but I fear that she doesn’t have very many on deck.  She has cranked out all kinds of them over the past few weeks plus both of us have all of our presents wrapped.  

I spent more time today creating calendars.  I added a 2021 Hanger calendar but instead of using the same photos that I did for the Hill and Hill-Hanger calendars I decided to devote the Hanger one to all pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger.  I had plenty of them to choose from.  I usually put anywhere from 4 to 7 pictures on each page so I needed about 70 to create the calendar.  It was easy to find those 70 from my collection.

The heated mattress pad from Butch felt great last night.  You can set both the temperature level and for how many hours you want it on.  We each have controls for our side of the bed.  It felt so good we both fell asleep watching the movie Kay had recommended for us on Disney+, Godmothered

I admit that I was wrong when I said that Central would have trouble giving away the 233 presents that we brought from the Greenbrier.  Pastor Won told me today that all but around 50 had been handed out.  He split the remaining 50 with another church and will give away the rest at the Food Pantry on Wednesday.

I learned today that WVU’s football team will play Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl on December 31.  Good!  I’ll enjoy watching that game (I hope!).

A month from today will be Joe Biden’s inauguration.  So has Trump finally given up his doomed efforts at overturning the election?  Heavens, no!  His latest tactics include supporting the crazed lawyer Sidney Powell who at a Nov. 19 news conference, before a national television audience, asserted that “communist money,” the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and a manipulated computer algorithm were all connected in a secret plot that had altered potentially millions of ballots and stolen the election from Trump.  Powell did not stop there. In an interview two days later with the conservative outlet Newsmax, she said she had been given evidence — which she said she could not disclose — that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican and an ally of the president, had taken bribes and conspired to orchestrate Trump’s defeat. Nationwide, she estimated that “thousands” of local elections officials knowingly helped carry out the master scheme to tamper with ballots. In fact, Powell claimed, if anyone bothered to look, they’d probably find that U.S. elections had been rigged for decades.  Trump also has been listening to Michael Flynn, whom he pardoned after he admitted to lying to Congress, who has encouraged him to use martial law to “rerun” the elections in states Trump lost.

ABC News tonight said a new, highly infectious strain of COVID-19 is racing through the United Kingdom.   England is under a massive lockdown.  In the US, an average of 2,600 people died every day during the past week.  Nineteen states, including Virginia, reached a new high in hospitalizations.  Moderna’s vaccine has now started to be shipped out throughout the US.  The CDC today recommended that people over 75 plus essential workers such as firefighters and teachers should be the next in line to receive the vaccinations. 

Congress finally approved a second stimulus package today.   Supposedly $600 will be sent out to individuals; I’m not sure yet if Lynn and I will be receiving this or not.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

December 20       Infected                   Died

World               77,144,698           1,699,039

US                     18,258,572              324,841

Virginia               306,848                  4,650

Augusta County       2,641                       22

Virginia’s new cases numbered 3,876.  That is enormous.  Strangely, the number of deaths only increased by 7. 

December 21, 2020

We double checked our presents last night making sure that we had the same number of presents for each of our grandchildren.  It turns out that we need another item for Gus and Henry so we came up with a plan today to take care of that.  Teenage boys aren’t easy to buy for!  Our plan involves going to Charlottesville.  And since Connie is coming tomorrow and we generally try to be out of the house when she comes, we’ll just make a trip to C’ville when she gets here.

I managed to keep busy all day today without much on my agenda.  Since this was the Monday after the third Sunday, I had counting duties today at Central.  I went a little early and took care of some other QuickBooks work including setting up for the final payroll of the year on December 31.  After we counted, I did the Quickbooks deposit so I don’t really have much reason to go back to CUMC for a few days.

Actually I did go back later in the day but it was to help Lynn.  Lynn and Cheryl Kent had come up with this idea that members could contribute in a “reverse Advent” where people provide items for the Food Pantry by either purchasing themselves or sending in $35 for Lynn and Cheryl to buy the items.  Actually, we had donations for twelve Advent kits so Lynn wisely ordered all of the items to be picked up from Walmart.  All we had to do was drive there and they brought the items out and loaded them in our car.  It was easy!  Then we took the items to Central where Lynn and Cheryl put them on the shelves for the Food Pantry folks.  The items that were bought were items that typically aren’t provided by the Blue Ridge Food Bank including foods like fruit cocktail and cake mixes and other items such as Kleenex and bandaids.  It turns out that they had money leftover since Walmart’s prices weren’t $35 per kit.  So Lynn is going to place another order for later this week.

The patio heater was ordered arrived today.  It took me about an hour to put it together.  I had it all set up on the porch but couldn’t get it to light.  I double checked the propane source by swapping the propane canister I had put in the heater with the one in the grill but that wasn’t the problem.  I called the company’s tech line and was getting quite upset especially when the first person I talked with couldn’t help me get it lit.  He took my phone number and said another technician would get back to me in 24 hours.  I decided to double check the new battery I had installed in the lighter section and it turned out to be dead.  Replacing it, the heater came on just fine.  It doesn’t heat the entire patio, for sure, but Lynn is pleased with it and that’s all that matters.

Tonight she fixed Colcannon Soup.  I had never heard that name before though we did have this soup once before when her friend Pat Collins sent us some.  Pat also gave the recipe to Lynn so she made it tonight.  It has potatoes and spinach and is very good.  I love most any kind of soup; tonight’s was especially tasty.

After writing yesterday that WVU was playing Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl, news on Facebook tonight was that Tennessee’s coach and several players have COVID-19 so they are backing out of playing.  Wow!

How many times have I written about this?  Today’s ABC news said that the president has not appeared publicly in nine days, and behind closed doors, advisers say, he has remained focused on the election — rather than governing the country through a historic pandemic, overseeing the rollout of two COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring a smooth transition to a Biden administration.  In one month he’ll be an ordinary US citizen with no political office.  Maybe his new residence will be somewhere with iron bars on the windows and doors.

Tonight’s COVID-19 news is bleak, as usual.  In the week ending Dec. 19, 16 states hit a record number of new deaths: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.  I guess those of us in Virginia thought we were somehow not under the siege as much as California but the latest numbers suggest otherwise.

Here are the statistics:

December 21       Infected                   Died

World               77,635,902           1,707,498

US                     18,425,166              326,312

Virginia               310,890                  4,654

Augusta County       2,723                       22

The US numbers are down a little but Virginia still had 4,000 new cases. Included in these counts are several of our friends and family:  my first cousin David Dean, Lynn’s sister Kay, our next door neighbor Bee Myers, a member of our “adopted” Mexican family, Gilberto Jiminez, Lynn’s good friend Mary Gooden, and who-knows-who-else?

The new mutation of COVID-19 which is racing through Britain is in the news tonight.  Doctors say that it isn’t more serious or deadly than the original COVID-19 but it is much more contagious.  The experts think that the vaccine will be effective against it though the new mutation is so new there are a lot of unanswered questions.

A half-million people have now been vaccinated.  But the CDC recently recommended that the next group after front line medical workers will be those over 75 plus essential workers like teachers, police, fire fighters, grocery workers, etc.  I guess that puts Lynn and me further down the line.

December 22, 2020

The ranking of who should get vaccinated in what order is a sobering conversation which reminds me of how unimportant many of us are.  I know that people working in emergency rooms need to be vaccinated because they truly are serving the public in crucial ways.  These people are superbly important and I don’t mind letting them go first.  I suppose it is important for politicians to be vaccinated since they serve as a representative to thousands of people though I am not too happy that politicians who previously called this thing a hoax are now protected and I’m not.  Since I’m not working anymore my sphere of influence is greatly reduced and I understand that.  I’m not complaining that much, just noting that my sense of worth is reduced now that the priorities have been released.

I wrote previously that Lynn and I were trying to limit our interactions with others as the COVID-19 spread has worsened.  Today I think that Lynn’s priorities are different from mine in this regard.  We went to Harrisonburg this morning where we stopped at five different stores where she shopped:  Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Walgreens, and Sharp Shopper.  She had only a few items she was looking for at each store and none were necessities.  For example, at three of them she was only looking for Rollo candy.  Of those five stores, the only one I went into was Costco and that was because I needed to use the restroom.  I’d like to think that if we stay here at home we have a near 0% chance of catching COVID-19 but when one of us goes to a store, any store, that percentage increases markedly.

We’ve been trying to work out some Christmas plans with our children.  There won’t be a big family get-together, of course, this year.  Kay and her family are planning on coming here on the afternoon of Sunday, the 27th, to exchange presents.  We talked with Jim this morning but didn’t come to a conclusion as to when we could take his family’s presents to them.  Ann’s family may come over Sunday morning.

We are awaiting news about Mary K’s newest grandchild.  Vic and Amy were due to have their first child yesterday.  They are both in their 40’s so this is really quite an event. 

We had more of that great Colcannon soup tonight then we went to Smiley’s for dessert.  A fine meal!

WVU played Kansas tonight in basketball.  It was a late game, starting at 9:00 so I won’t get the results in this blog but will tomorrow.  It was at Kansas where WVU had never before won.  Kansas came into the game ranked 3rd nationally; WVU was 7th.

December 22       Infected                   Died

World               78,285,414           1,721,910

US                     18,633,111              330,067

Virginia               314,481                  4,705

Augusta County       2,768                       23

Virginia had over 3,500 new cases and 51 more deaths.  Augusta County now has 61 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 

By Christmas Day, the weather is going to take a turn for the cold with the high only in the mid twenties.  Yuk!  I guess since no one is going anywhere it won’t be that big of a deal.  The good news is that we’ve just past the winter solstice so the days will slowly be getting longer now.

From our front yard tonight we could see the overlap of Jupiter and Saturn tonight in the southwest sky.  You could see it with bare eyes though we also looked with binoculars.  Called the “Christmas Star,” this happens once every 800 years.  Andy texted us that “there was a man out with a homemade telescope who let us look through it and we could see 4 of Jupiter’s moons, the “clouds” in Jupiter’s atmosphere, and Saturn’s rings.  It was amazing.” 

I’ve written that, for the first time ever, we were almost finished with our Christmas shopping early.  Well, we’re not quite through.  Tomorrow I’ve got to pick up a present for Lynn in Staunton and we’re going to Harrisonburg to get one for Henry.  Then on Christmas Eve we’re due to receive items for Gus, Henry, and Georgia.  One item I’d ordered for the Foy and Gutshall families won’t be coming until December 29 but that’s OK.

December 23, 2020

We got the awful news this morning.  My cousin David died at 11:42 last night from complications of COVID-19.  David was a retired police officer in South Charleston, WV.  Last March he and his sister Marjorie had met Mary K. and us at the Greenbrier for breakfast.   I had some pictures from that visit.  I believe David was divorced and lived alone.  Tough way to go… He is the fourth first cousin of mine who has died.  Three of them, including David, were younger than me.

Lynn and I are blessed to have avoided the infection thus far.  We both feel fine now.  Having it hit this close to home does make me appreciate my good fortune.  David and the other 330,000+ in America didn’t deserve this.

I looked back through my December posts.  Sure enough, I have left home every single day this month.  That doesn’t seem like hunkering down to avoid COVID-19, huh?  I do think we’ve been fairly safe when and where we’ve gone but who knows?  Unfortunately, Lynn had some grocery items she needed today plus we had to pick up an item for Henry this morning.  And I had to pick up an item I found for Lynn at an art gallery in Staunton.  So once again we were in the public.  Maybe after today….

I’ve been working on my 2021 calendars for the past several days.  As usual, I’m doing three different versions depending on whose house the calendar ends up in:  Hill-Hanger, Hill, and Hanger.  In the past, the calendars were very similar except that in the Hanger calendar I swapped out pictures of those in the Hill family for Hanger pictures and vice versa for the Hill calendar.  Plus, I deleted Hill birthdates and anniversaries from the Hanger calendar and likewise delete Hanger birthdates and anniversaries from the Hill calendar.  My December 18 post described this. 

This year, I did a different Hanger calendar.  Instead of using 2020 photos from the 2021 Hanger family (which were sparse due to the pandemic), I created a calendar using the pictures I could find of Lynn’s Mom and Dad.  I like the way it came out.  So today as I was driving I had the idea to do the same for the 2021 Hill calendar.  Over the past few years I’ve converted lots of old 35mm slides to digital plus I had scanned some old pictures of the Hill and Cook families.  So today I created the Hill calendar with a collection of these.  I believe that just about all of the pictures are pre-1985 and some go back to the 1950’s.  This took most of the afternoon and I’m pleased with the end result.

There were 32,000 Americans hospitalized witih COVID-19 on Labor Day.  Today there are over 117,000.  The meteoric climb in infections is easily blamed on Thanksgiving gatherings.  The news today says the number of people traveling now around the Christmas season is much higher.  The TSA says they have screened over four million people in the past four days.  So experts are predicting an even high climb in infections shortly after Christmas as large families gather and share their COVID-19 infections.

The Hill family will get together but it will be outside on Sunday the 28th.  We will wear masks and remain distant from each other.  Jim and his boys will likely not come.  Kay’s family will only go in the house to use the restroom and when they do they will go through the front door straight up the stairs to the bathroom.   Ann’s family will likely not cross the threshold at any doorway.  Lynn and I will carry their presents out to them; they will not even see our Christmas tree from inside the house.

All of this is for good reason.  As these statistics show, COVID-19 is still exploding across the country including Virginia:

December 23       Infected                   Died

World               78,980,488           1,735,724

US                     18,870,058              333,667

Virginia               319,133                  4,760

Augusta County       2,818                       23

I wish I had better numbers to report.  Virginia’s count of infections increased by over 4,500 in just one day.  There were 55 new Virginia deaths.  Each death represents a person; David R. Dean is one of the 333,667 who has lost his life to COVID-19.  Joe Biden has told us that “it will get much worse before it gets better.”  Given the current trends plus the millions of people who ignore the advice of experts concerning large gatherings at Christmas, I have to believe he is right.

I did some math tonight using the figures above and the population figures available on the internet.  The results are that 1.0% of the world’s population has been infected with COVID-19 whereas 5.7% of the United States has.  3.7% of Virginians have been infected and the same 3.7% applies to Augusta County residents. 

More calculations I did from the data shows that 2.2% of those in the world who get COVID-19 die from it.  1.8% of those in the US who get it die.  In Virginia, the rate is 1.5%.  And in Augusta County, 0.8% of those who have caught it have died.  We did receive some good news from Elizabeth Jiminez that her husband Gilberto is still improving and is off the ventilator.

December 24, 2020

The weather today was lousy—rained all day.  I guess this is better than snow though snow would have been prettier especially on Christmas Eve.  Tomorrow the temperatures supposed to be much, much colder with a high in the mid twenties.  Yuck!  On the other hand, we didn’t go anywhere today and have no plans to leave home tomorrow.

This morning I wrote, then Lynn edited, a letter we decided to send tomorrow to our friends.  She sent cards to some but not all.  So we decided to send out an e-mail with the following in it:

Christmas Day, 2020

Dear Friends,

Merry Christmas!  This is the first Christmas ever that we’ve spent the day by ourselves so we’ve elected to share with you via this note.  Despite the uproar in all of our lives caused by this pandemic, we hope you are experiencing peace and hope this season.

2020 has been a tough year for us as we’re sure it has been for you, too.  Of course, COVID-19 has greatly limited our grandparenting fun.  We haven’t had a Sunday night dinner with Ann’s family or an overnight visit from Kay’s since March.  It has been over a year since Jim’s boys visited here.  The times when we’ve seen family have been outdoors.  During this year we also lost Lynn’s Mom at the age of 101 and sister-in-law Ann Hill.  Recently a first cousin of Joe’s succumbed to COVID-19.  We also have a friend still in the hospital after having spent a month on a ventilator.

Yet, this Christmas finds us healthy, happy to have many good friends, and hopeful that 2021 will bring us vaccinations, family visits, and travels.   Lynn has stayed busy doing all sorts of craft projects and still does some work with Rockingham County Public Schools and Albemarle County Schools via Zoom.  Joe has taken on the duties of church bookkeeper and has written a daily blog about life in the COVID-19 era.  Before Lynn broke her foot in July we walked a couple of hours each day and plan to resume that when spring comes.  This summer Jim built a really nice Pergola for us in our backyard which we’ve used in lots of outdoor visits with local friends.  We had a nice summer get-away with Ann’s and Kay’s families and have had two great visits from Joe’s brother Butch.

We’ve learned to appreciate virtual get-togethers, take-out food and leftovers, Netflix, and hiking in our neighborhood.  We greatly miss our grandchildren’s ball games and performances, Barter Theatre and Broadway in Richmond shows, and the wonderful travels we had prior to the pandemic.  We’ll celebrate 45 years together this coming June and will probably rate this past year as our closest since we’ve been so isolated from others.

This year has made us doubly aware of the value of family and friends.  We hope you and your family are doing well.  We greatly look forward to future visits with each of you.

Peace and Love,

Lynn & Joe

I hope this sums up our 2020.  It has certainly been a year we’ll never forget.  We’ve been burdened with all the COVID-19 upheaval and its associated lifestyle changes, a crazed President, tumultuous election, Lynn’s broken foot and hurt back, sorrow, worry, and weird weather.  But we’ve survived so far.

We do have a crazy President.  Lately he’s pardoned all of his cronies, people who have committed mass atrocities against innocent people, and most anyone who seems to agree with his outlandish ideas.  He refused to sign an economic relief package because it only offered $600 to each American.  He said he thought it should give each of us $2,000 which is exactly what the Democrats have been saying from the get-go.  Without his signing, those in economic straits get nothing, of course.  Some say he didn’t sign not because he really wants more for those in need but because he’s angry at Mitch McConnell for not backing his unproven claims of voter fraud.  Meanwhile he’s retreated to his Florida estate for golf while some Americans will be hungry on Christmas day.

We had a good phone call with my sister today.  Amy was induced last night but still hasn’t delivered her and Vic’s baby yet.  If he doesn’t come today, it will be tomorrow, for sure. 

We got our final Christmas presents delivered today from Amazon.  The efficiency of this company is so amazing.  We had talked about going to Charlottesville to get our last items for Henry and Gus but decided on Monday to just order them from Amazon.  We got exactly what we wanted, delivered today, and at a price less than we would have paid in Charlottesville. 

With only eight days left, December has already gone down as the deadliest month of the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.  As of Wednesday, 57,638 Americans died from the virus in December, according to the health data. April is the second deadliest month of the year with 55,267 fatalities, according to the Tracking Project.  The daily hospitalization rate broke another record Wednesday with 119,463 Americans hospitalized with the virus.

You’d think Americans are wising up.  Not so.  The TSA screened 1,191,123 people at airport checkpoints nationwide on Wednesday, the highest single day total since the pandemic started, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising Americans against traveling for the holidays.  More than 6.3 million passengers have been screened since Dec. 18.  All this means that the number of people infected, hospitalized, and die from COVID-19 will continue to rise throughout January.  I have to wonder who in our circle of friends and family will be next.  Hopefully none of us.  But remember my statistics from yesterday’s post:  nearly one in every twenty five people in Augusta County has tested positive already.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 24       Infected                   Died

World               79,712,781           1,748,434

US                     19,109,932              337,049

Virginia               323,915                  4,791

Augusta County       2,894                       23

That’s 4,800 new cases in Virginia.  Not good!  The Virginia Department of Health website also shows now how many people in Virginia have been vaccinated and where.  So far, 31,491 have received the vaccine but only 76 in Augusta CountyL.

We watched via Zoom the children’s Christmas program that Thomas and Georgia took part in today at the Arlington Presbyterian Church.  It was very cute.  They both had singing parts.  Then Lynn and I watched the Central UMC Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols.

I got an early Christmas present tonight.  Lynn made me an apple pie.  Do I ever love apple pie!  I wasn’t about to wait until tomorrow to taste it.  It didn’t disappoint.

There have been many years in which we have been up very late on Christmas Eve wrapping last minute presents, putting together toys, getting things ready for a big Christmas breakfast, etc.  Not so this year!  We were in bed early and watched a movie.  Tomorrow definitely promises to be the most uneventful Christmas we’ve ever experienced.

December 25, 2020

Indeed this Christmas was unlike any other.  We talked with, even had Facetime with, our children and grandchildren but we physically saw no one except each other the entire day.  Poor Lynn!  We did enjoy the three Facetime sessions we had where our grandchildren showed us all the cool things Santa had brought them last night. 

We had some excellent news first thing this morning:  Dennis Ryan DeLeo was born early this morning.  He weighted 8 pounds, 4 ounces.  I’m so happy for Vic, Amy, and Mary K.  This is the first grandchild on Amy’s side of the family so I know her family is happy.

We did have a good Christmas, though.  We did enjoy each other’s company and had a good time opening our presents to each other.  Lynn had bought me a jacket, pants, sweater, pocket-sized tool, mixed fruit jelly, and rain gauge.  She baked me an apple pie yesterday and promised to make me meat loaves (both to eat and freeze).  I got her a sweatshirt she had pickd out, three craft items including a set of Dremel tools and a laminator, a Carrie Underwood Christmas CD, some of her favorite candy (mint filled straws), a pair of Ruth Bader Ginsburg “I Dissent” earrings, a Jim Hanger pie plate to replace one she broke at Thanksgiving, and a framed 8 x 10 picture of her parents. Actually, the frame was one from her mother’s but it worked fine.  I also gave her a set of travel plans for trips I want us to take once we’re vaccinated including a road trip to the “Channels” & Breaks Interstate Park in Southwest Virginia, one to two parks in West Virginia plus two days in Athens with Butch, a funny one through Maryland and Pennsylvania stopping at five different creameries, and one to Delaware.  The packet included four trips I want us to take involving airplane travel once we are vaccinated including one to Key West FL which she has always wanted to see, one to Oregon (our 49th state), and two more Caravan escorted trips (Guatemala and Costa Rica).  Finally the packet included football games I want us to see this fall including the VT – WVU game.

Lynn spent most of the afternoon baking a delicious dinner including prime rib, mashed potatoes, and lima beans.  She also made a cake.  However, my dessert was again that wonderful apple pie.  Besides cooking she embroidered a blanket for Dennis Ryan DeLeo.

It seems a shame to write about COVID-19 on Christmas Day but I can’t ignore the fact that this is now part of every day.  Here are today’s statistics:

December 25       Infected                   Died

World               80,158,727           1,756,330

US                     19,201,750              338,195

Virginia               327,993                  4,820

Augusta County       2,953                       23

I think I’ll start listing the Virginia vaccination statistics, too:

                                         Vaccinated

            Virginia                       43,043                       

            Augusta County              103

The national statistics are low probably due to unreported data given that today is Christmas Day.

There were no news shows today due to the holiday so I gathered some news from ABC’s website.  Their news was almost funny:  After tossing a grenade that threatens to blow up a massive COVID relief and government funding bill and force a government shutdown in the midst of a pandemic, President Donald Trump was golfing on Christmas for a second straight day.

ABC also had an article about the spread of COVID-19.  It said that contact tracing has shown that 70% of new cases come from small gatherings and households.  When people gather in small groups with friends and family, they are more likely to let their guard down, not wear their masks and stay together indoors for longer periods of time, which makes it easier to transmit the virus.  In one study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who eventually tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the past two weeks compared to participants who did not test positive for the virus.

This is why our Christmas family get-together will be outside this coming Sunday and we’ll all be wearing masks.  If we do have food, it will be finger food where people grab their sandwich and sit apart before removing their mask to eat.

Lynn’s sister Kay still is not well from her coronavirus infection.  She coughs a lot but she doesn’t have a fever any more.  She is very tired all the time.

All in all, today was a pretty nice Christmas even though we were limited to phone calls and Facetime in order to communicate with our families.  I feel very blessed again this December 25.

December 26, 2020

We were very efficient today.  Before 10:00 I had taken the package Lynn put together to the post office to be mailed to Vic and Amy DeLeo to celebrate baby Dennis Ryan.  And I had dropped my three 2021 calendars off at Staples to be printed.   Then we left for Walmart to pick up the order Lynn had placed for the Central Food Pantry.  This was the “reverse Advent” project she and Cheryl Kent put together to help stock the Food Pantry with items typically not available from the Blue Ridge Food Bank.  We met Cheryl at Central and put the items on the shelves.

While we were there, Central was in the midst of its weekly Saturday food give-away.  Lynn had the good idea to grab a box of food for Elizabeth Jiminez and her family.  Actually we got two boxes full of food.  She is currently staying with her brother who lives in Staunton so Lynn texted her, got the address, and we took the boxes to her and her family.  It was a busy but good morning.

This afternoon Lynn worked on getting food ready for tomorrow when the kids come.  They are supposed to show up around 1:00.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we’re going to stay outside the whole time and wear masks.  The temperature is supposed to be around 44o at 1:00.  My job, as usual, was to do the dishes. 

There wasn’t much in the news today possibly because people are on Christmas break now instead of writing news stories.  I feel sure not much has changed in the war on coronavirus.  CNN did publish an alarming statistic today:  The United States reached a grim milestone on Saturday: 1 in 1,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 since the nation’s first reported infection in late January.  Census Bureau estimates for the last week of December place the US population at around 330,750,000. On Saturday afternoon, the national death toll from Covid-19 reached 331,116, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 26       Infected                   Died

World               80,626,824           1,763,663

US                     19,362,509              339,561

Virginia               329,577                  4,840

Augusta County       2,963                       23

The vaccination statistics for Virginia and Augusta County were unchanged.  I wish this weren’t the case. 

Tonight Staples called me around 8:00 and said the calendars were ready so I drove in and picked them up.  That way I can distribute them to Ann and Kay when they come tomorrow.  We may be going to Roanoke on Monday and can give Jim’s to him then.  We’ll mail those to Lynn’s sister Jane, my brother Butch, and my sister Mary K.  I am pleased with the way they turned out.

December 27, 2020

We had our family Christmas today.  It happened just like we planned—entirely outdoors.  Jim came (by himself) so we had thirteen in all.  Everyone was socially distant and masked.  The temperature was in the low 40’s and high 30’s so it was far from ideal.  But the sun was shining and it all went as well as we could have expected.

First we opened presents, one at a time, as usual.  I took lots of pictures, of course.  Then we ate finger foods which Lynn had prepared.  Ann and Kay each brought some, too.  We had plenty of food.

Meanwhile the kids played great in the backyard.  We have such a nice yard for them to play in including the tennis court.  Jim had come early and brought with him a new set of steps he had built for the playset.  He and I only needed about 45 minutes to get them all attached and well anchored.  As always, he did excellent work on building the steps.  They playset will last for years now—at least until his boys have outgrown them.  I can’t wait until they are able to come here and play.  They have not been here since Thanksgiving, 2019.

The only disappointment was that our patio heater wouldn’t stay on.  It would come on and stay on for a few minutes then it would turn itself off.  I’m not sure what caused that.  It was a little windy so perhaps the wind is what kept putting the flame out.

Seeing the family was certainly the high point.  Everyone seems to get along so well.  The kids all played well outside, swinging on the playset, riding the see saw, playing tennis, riding bikes and Big Wheels, and basketball.  We are so lucky.  I feel so blessed.

I really hope we don’t have to do Christmas like this again.  It just isn’t right to go this season without hugging our grandchildren.  Likewise, if it weren’t for COVID-19 I’m confident Coen and Faron would have joined Jim today.  We’ll have a lot of catching up to do once we are vaccinated.

Lynn’s sister Kay is still not feeling great.  I believe she is a little better but this virus has been no picnic for her.  She’s had a bad cough and today was throwing up so bad she went to the Augusta Health outpatient clinic for some assistance.  She was feeling better tonight.

December 27       Infected                   Died

World               81,102,664           1,771,149

US                     19,549,211              340,952

Virginia               333,576                  4,854

Augusta County       3,016                       24

The US numbers are down again with the explanation probably underreporting on the weekend.  Virginia’s certainly are not; there were 4,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County had one more death and 53 new cases.  There are now 67 people from Augusta County hospitalized with COVID-19.  Dr. Fauci still insists that the worst is still ahead of us thanks to people letting their guard down over Christmas and New Years. 

Virginia apparently hasn’t learned how to count its vaccinations because the total on the VDH website today was actually 5,000 less than it was two days ago.  Go figure!  Likewise, the number of people vaccinated in Augusta County today was listed as 90 whereas two days ago it was 103. 

December 28, 2020

I did my usual Monday tasks today at Central, taking care of counting the offering and depositing the money in the bank and on QuickBooks.  I had about four bills to pay plus some other minor tasks so I ended up working there most of the morning.  I took a look at when last year’s end-of-year tax forms were filled in and they weren’t done until January 13 so I’ve got some time before I plow into those.  I’ve never done them before so I’m a little anxious about getting the W-2’s and other tax forms submitted properly.

In the afternoon, I made a run to the dump.  Ann and Josh had a lot of trash, too, so it took me a little longer than usual.  After I finished with it, I stopped at the Mount Sidney US Post Office and mailed 2021 calendars to Butch, Mary K., Lynn’s sister Jane who is now in Florida, and Jim.  We had forgotten to give him his calendar yesterday when he was here.

We also had time to do a Zoom meeting with Jim and his boys.  They opened their presents from us.  They are so much fun—never still.

That’s about all I got done today.  Lynn had her Cheryl friends over in the morning for their back porch meeting.  The temperatures were in the low 50’s so they weren’t too cold.  In the afternoon she hand delivered the 2021 Hanger calendars to her brother Bill and sister Kay.  Now we have all the calendars distributed.

In 2017 I had given our three children hard drives with all of my pictures, movies, and some documents on them.  I suggested that they bring the drives back on Sunday but only Ann remembered.  So I updated her drive with all of the pictures, movies, and appropriate documents since that time.  There are now over 52,000 pictures!

ABC said there have been more than 65,000 COVID-19 deaths in December, the worst month yet.  Supposedly, 20 million people were going to be vaccinated in December but so far only 2 million have been.  I don’t know why there’s such a hold up.

Here are today’s numbers:

December 28       Infected                   Died

World               81,606,458           1,780,218

US                     19,740,119              342,840

Virginia               336,175                  4,861

Augusta County       3,098                       24

Virginia’s vaccination total increased by only 49.  Why did only 49 people in the entire state of Virginia get a vaccine today?  Augusta County’s total is only 97.  The total for the entire state is just 41,709.

December 29, 2020

We’ve agreed to stay out of stores as much as possible but we needed groceries today both for us and for the Food Pantry so we shopped early today during senior hours and light foot traffic.  Lynn got groceries from Aldi’s, Martin’s, and Target all before 9:00.  Then we went to Costco for the 9:00 senior time and finished up.  We were headed home by 9:20.

As soon as we got home Lynn started cooking a sausage casserole she had made for Ann’s family.  When it was ready I took it over for their breakfast.

We had some time to spare today so we decided to take down our Christmas tree.  This is the earliest we’ve ever taken in down but this year’s tree was so dry we thought it might be a fire hazard.  It was kept in water the entire time but didn’t seem to drink it at all.  I should have made a fresh cut on its base when I set it up but I did not.  It was a very pretty tree; it was unfortunate that no one ever saw it up close except for Lynn and me thanks to the pandemic.  Perhaps the only other person who was in the same room as the tree was Connie who cleans house for us. 

We also had time to take the groceries we bought for the Food Pantry to Central today.  Their Costco order was one that we’ve got before:  sugar and coffee.  These are items that the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank doesn’t provide. 

We also had time to walk twice today.  First we walked about a mile in our neighborhood.  While we walked, Steve and Bev Coffman stopped and talked with us.  They had received the same Christmas card we got from Kay which featured pictures of Thomas and Georgia.  Our second walk was a lap around Gypsy Hill Park after we unloaded the Food Pantry groceries.  The temperature was in the low 40’s but we were bundled up.  We wore our masks in Gypsy Hill, too.

We decided to get hamburgers tonight from our favorite food truck instead of eating leftovers.  As usual, the burgers were good.  I ate another piece of apple pie tonight; tomorrow I will finish the entire pie.

My final task of the day was to do lots of backup work on my computers.  I had some files on my laptop which weren’t on the iMac downstairs and vice versa.  Plus, I hadn’t backed up my laptop to its external hard drive for a month.  All of that is taken care of now.

A funny story I ran into today was that in November, the Texas Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick offered a million dollar reward to whomever could produce evidence of voter fraud.  He was hoping to find a way to help out Donald Trump in his hopeless case.  Well, the Pennsylvania Democrat Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman asked Patrick to pay up because he had uncovered three cases of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.  All three were cases where people voted illegally for Trump!  In two of them, men tried to vote for their dead mothers. 

ABC news tonight was more of the same…COVID-19 spikes, vaccinations sputter.  Coronavirus hospitalizations reached a new high with over 121,000.  More than 337,000 lives have been lost.  Joe Biden and Dr. Fauci both said January would likely be worse than December which was the worst month thus far.  Biden slammed the Trump administration for the slowdown in the number of vaccinations.  Biden said that at the current rate it will take years, not months, to get everyone vaccinated.  Only 2.1 million people are reported to have been vaccinated thus far. 

Here are today’s statistics:

December 29       Infected                   Died

World               82,268,242           1,794,722

US                     19,949,391              346,258

Virginia               340,297                  4,920

Augusta County       3,215                       24

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       47,052                       

            Augusta County              158

Virginia continues to have 4,000 new cases each day.  And the number of deaths in Virginia increased by 59 in just one day.  Augusta County’s number of infections increased by 117 in just 24 hours.  This is scary.

December 30, 2020

I did a project today that Lynn had asked me to do.  She found several newspaper clippings in a small chest from her parents’ house about her Dad’s young days.  There were several articles about his baseball and basketball feats from the 1930’s.  He was quite an athlete!  There were others from his military service in England during World War II plus the announcement of his engagement to Betty Harris.  I scanned each of them and put them together in a 15 page booklet which can be printed or shared electronically.  She wants to print them and bind them in a booklet for her brother and sisters.  That sounds like a worthwhile project.  She even said she could laminate the cover page using the laminator I bought her for Christmas.

I also spent some time putting some of our Christmas items away above the garage.  We took the Christmas tree and stockings down yesterday but are keeping the exterior decorations up for a while.  I made around 20 trips up and down the ladder carrying boxes—not easy work!

From ABC news today:  The United States reported 3,725 deaths on Tuesday, breaking the previous single-day total of 3,656 set on Dec. 16, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. December has already been determined to be the worst month on record for cases, hospitalizations and deaths, surpassing the high numbers seen in April.  More bad news:  a 41 year old Congressman-elect from Louisiana has died from COVID-19.  He had no underlying medical conditions.  Today’s Charleston Gazette also carries the obituary for my cousin David Dean who died due to coronavirus.  The obituary says clearly this was his cause of death.  He was 68 years old.  And a friend of ours from Central UMC, Susan Obaugh, has been admitted to Augusta Health with pneumonia and COVID-19.

California reported that the new strain of COVID-19 which has ravaged Great Britain has been discovered there.  Likewise, the variant virus was discovered in Colorado.  Who knows where else it might be?

Lynn had a suggestion that I followed through on today.  She asked me to call my pulmonary doctor’s office and see what plans they had to get people in their care vaccinated.  It helped that a nurse there, Kara Johnson, formerly worked as the school nurse at Cub Run Elementary School with Lynn.  So I called and left a message for Kara to please call me back.  A few hours later she did.  She said that I wasn’t the first to call with that question; in fact, they had started a list and today she added my name to the list.  She said they had not been told when patients like me would be vaccinated.  Indeed, she hasn’t been vaccinated herself.  But when our time comes she’ll call.  That was comforting to hear.

It was cold and windy today but Lynn still braved the chill and walked with her friend Ginny Bauman.  I stayed inside.

Today we received the final present we had ordered.  It was an unusual one I had ordered—a book called Mathematics from the Life Science Library.  My parents had bought this book for my siblings and me in the 1960’s.  I had read it at various times of my childhood and career.  It has some very interesting facts and ideas from math that I used including a page on topology where a person shows how to take your vest off without taking your coat off thereby proving that the vest never was underneath the coat to begin with!  I found copies of this book, copyrighted in 1963, on Amazon and ordered one for the Foy family and one for the Gutshall family.  They finally got here today.  I’ll get them delivered sometime soon.

Since my mind was in a nostalgic mood today after scanning the old newspaper articles from Mr. Hanger’s youth plus looking back through the Mathematics book, I did some checking on the availability of newspaper articles from my youth.  If I were to spend about $50 I could get a 6 month subscription to a site which has pages from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph from my youth which can be excerpted.  I did some checking and did find old Bramwell High School basketball game stories and a story about a tennis tournament I won in Bluefield on August 21, 1977.  This was the day Ann was baptized.  From her baptism service I came to Bluefield and played in and won the finals of the Bluefield Open tournament, the largest tournament I ever won.  It was fun to look back though I did not spend the money to be able to extract the articles.  Maybe some day…

It took Augusta County from the beginning of COVID-19 infections until June 4 to reach 117 infections.  That’s three months.  But yesterday there were 117 new infections in just 24 hours.  Today’s number of infections, which I’ll paste shortly, is somewhat lower but there were 4 new deaths in the past 24 hours.  It took Augusta County until July 29 to reach a total of 4 deaths due to COVID-19.  Now we’ve had that many in just the past 24 hours.  These are really worrisome times.  When we go to stores now we almost never see anyone without a mask.  I have to wonder about the 117 people who just got infected—were they not mask wearers?

I needed to pay some of Central’s bills and check on a few things with QuickBooks so I waited today until late afternoon when I knew I’d be the only one in the building.  Sure enough, I was by myself and got my work done quickly there.  I think I was very safe in doing it this way.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

December 30       Infected                   Died

World               82,990,762           1,809,982

US                     20,173,070              349,976

Virginia               344,345                  4,984

Augusta County       3,253                       28

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       54,295                       

            Augusta County              280

Virginia’s numbers remain way too high—over 4,000 new cases and 64 new deaths overnight.  As I mentioned before, Augusta County’s deaths increased by 4 in just one day.  There were some more vaccinations today but this entire process is moving too slowly.  Supposedly there have been 14 million vaccinations distributed to states but only 2.5 million have been administered.

December 31, 2020

Today is the last day of the worst year of my life.  I am sure hoping for a 2021 that is so unlike this past year.  2020 was devoid of so much of what I previously took for granted:  travel, ball games, shows in big and small theatres, family dinners, leisure shopping, visits, grandchildren in our house, eating in restaurants, church services, concerts, school performances, movies, hugs, handshakes, and seeing people’s faces.   I hate that anytime I get near someone other than Lynn I start asking myself “Could this person be contagious?”  I am not happy with myself that when I see a person not wearing a mask, I immediately judge them as being unfit to live.  I do not like living in fear.  Though I am not a very social person, I am embarrassed to have to consciously try to avoid contact with people.

I believe this is the 257th consecutive day I have written during this pandemic.  I am up to almost 400 single spaced pages.  I will be happy to quit writing and will likely do so once Lynn and I have both been vaccinated.  Until then, I remain in fear and write as one way to deal with my angst.

This afternoon WVU played Army in the Liberty Bowl.  WVU is historically not good in bowl games.  Coming into the game, the Mountaineers had played in 37 bowl games but only won 15 of them.  So my expectations were not high.  But this was Army, not Alabama.  The Mountaineers started off fine and were ahead 10-7 with the ball late in the first half before the quarterback fumbled it near the Army end zone.  Soon they were down 14-10.  They fell behind 21-10 early in the third quarter before scoring to make the score 21-16.  After two other possessions in which dropped passes killed them, they held Army then scored with five minutes to go.  They were successful on the two point conversion so they took the lead 24-21.  Army then missed a field goal but held WVU so they took over with a minute and a half left.  But WVU intercepted to preserve the win.  Yippee!

Watching WVU sports this year has been trying.  The football team can’t catch the ball.  The basketball team can’t shoot the ball.  Today there were at least a half dozen throws that should have been caught by the WVU receivers but they dropped them.

At least we were safe today.  I did go to the post office to mail a letter but was inside the building for only 10-15 seconds and then only after I saw that all previous customers at the Mount Sidney PO had left.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

December 31       Infected                   Died

World               83,744,085           1,824,056

US                     20,416,740              353,674

Virginia               349,584                  5,032

Augusta County       3,307                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       64,882                       

            Augusta County              482

The Virginia numbers are awful. In just one day, there are 5,200 new cases and 48 new deaths.  Augusta County’s numbers increased by 54.  There are 76 Augusta County residents hospitalized including Susan Obaugh.  We did get word that Gilberto Jiminez is improving.  He’s been in the hospital for something like two months now.

November 2020: Life in the COVID-19 era

November 1, 2020

I used to look forward to an extra hour of sleep.  Last night it was an extra night of Hallmark movie watching.  I fell asleep early but awoke at 3:00.  By then Lynn had the Hallmark channel streaming.  I ended up watching two movies then finally got up.  One thing about growing old is that your sleep cycle is too easily disrupted.  I get tired early at night but awake long before daylight.

Another thing about returning to standard time I had forgotten about is how hungry I get at times that aren’t quite eating times.  I ate lunch around 11:00 today and was awaiting dinner by 4:00.

For the second time in a month, someone has stolen our Biden sign from the front yard.  How petty!  They bent over our “I’ve already voted for Biden” sign so I straightened it back up.  There are hundreds of Trump posters in our area.  I’m confident that Biden will win Virginia but not Augusta County but that doesn’t excuse someone from allowing us to support him.  They can take our sign but not our commitment.

Lynn has been on overdrive with craft projects.  I don’t want to give away all she’s been doing but she has been at it all day today with two projects.  She really gets good use out of her Cricut machine nowadays.

We did get a chance to walk a couple of miles today in the early afternoon.  It was a little windy but not that cold.  The temperature outside was around 60o.  By mid-afternoon it had turned much windier.  Her foot is definitely doing better. 

Lynn and I have begun to make plans for a December driving trip.  Unlike previous years in which we’d try to catch some Christmas shows, this year, thanks to COVID-19, we’ll likely limit ourselves to outdoor Christmas decorations.  She’s come up with some towns which apparently have good drive-through vistas.  I believe she is leaning toward Asheville NC, which is about five hours from here.  We’ve been there several times.

One thing nice about the Hallmark Channel is that there are plenty of commercials but no political ones.  Why did the Republicans and Democrats choose to not buy ads there?  Maybe they weren’t offered the opportunity.  Either way it has been refreshing.  The Hallmark movies have been on at our house all day though I confess I’m getting a little tired of plots involving a Christmas festival at the local small town with city people getting stuck there due to the snow.

We went to a few Dollar Tree and Dollar General stores after dinner tonight so Lynn could look for some craft materials she needed.  She was only mildly successful.  It was so unusual for us to be leaving home after dark.  Of course, it gets dark now at 5:00 pm.

There wasn’t much news about COVID-19 today.  Here are the statistics:

November 1         Infected                   Died

World               46,804,423           1,205,044

US                       9,473,720              236,471

Virginia               182,392                  3,655

Augusta County          718                         9

Virginia had 1200 new cases but only 1 new death.  The US had 73,000 new cases.  Ugh!

 

November 2, 2020

Today is the last day before our momentous election.  I hope the polls are correct but only four years ago the polls said Hillary Clinton would be our next President.  I have my fingers crossed and my vote already counted.

I am so looking forward to Butch’s visit.  I have written many times and places before that I wish I could see him more.  It is sad that his ability to travel only came about due to Ann’s death.  We have lived in this house for 32 years and he has never stayed here before.  That will change tomorrow night.  He is a lot like Lynn—smart, talented, good-hearted, and great company.

Today was the first Monday of November so I had extra work to do at Central.  I first had to get all of the information entered into QuickBooks for our new employee, Savannah Murrin, who started working this morning.  I had not entered a new employee before so I had to make sure I did all the federal and state forms correctly.  And I had to get her salary setup property in QuickBooks.  I hope I got it all right!

I had some bills to pay but I also now have bank accounts to reconcile since we’re into November now.  I hope to get the accounts reconciled tomorrow morning before Butch comes.  I can’t leave for Central until after our furnace is serviced, though.

This afternoon was a special school day for Freddie.  He ordinarily goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays but since tomorrow is a holiday with Election Day, he had school today.  It was too cold when he got off the bus for him to play outside so I took him to the basement where he played Wii while he waited on Ann to get here.  That worked out OK.

Lynn and I grabbed take-out from Cracker Barrel tonight.  We both like the country ham & biscuit breakfast meal which only costs $4.99 each.  I also had some ham & bean soup which we had picked up from Central yesterday.  Millie Brown made it so you know it was good.

ABC news has pointed out many times that the pandemic and the election are closely intertwined.  Here’s some of today’s news about this:  With Election Day just hours away, coronavirus cases are rising in every key political battleground state around the country, according to an ABC News analysis, a striking reality that highlights the inextricable link between the pandemic and the 2020 race for president, despite Donald Trump‘s best efforts to refocus the conversation elsewhere.  Deaths and hospitalizations are rising as well.  The outbreak is hitting in record numbers nationwide — but the virus is spreading faster in cases per population in many hotly contested states, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin and Texas, according to the analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.  Just this week, Pennsylvania, one of the most likely tipping points in the election, broke its single-day new case record this week with over cases 2,700 reported — the highest since the start of the pandemic. In Wisconsin, there have been more than 150,000 new cases in just the past two months — nearly double all the cases reported from March through the end of August combined.

It will be very interesting to see the voter turnout.  Already over 93 million Americans have voted.  In 2016, a total of 136.7 million voted.

ABC also had this interesting article:  At a rally Sunday in Opa-locka, Florida, that stretched late into the night, President Donald Trump entertained the raucous crowd with the idea that he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, after the election.  Trump made the suggestion after his supporters began chanting “Fire Fauci.” It’s a favorite among Trump’s most ardent supporters, who believe the severity of the virus is being overplayed by Fauci and the news media in a bid to undermine the president’s popularity. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump told the crowd about firing Fauci.  But ABC retorted that Fauci is a career civil servant, not a political appointee, and his protected by law from political retaliation. If the president wanted to fire Fauci, he would have to claim some kind of performance problem or misconduct – a tall order for a doctor has served six presidents and is highly regarded among public health experts.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 2         Infected                   Died

World               47,302,604           1,210,896

US                       9,563,357              236,957

Virginia               183,418                  3,658

Augusta County          719                         9

The US isn’t getting any better—90,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  As usual, another 1,000 new cases in Virginia. 

 

November 3, 2020

My 70th birthday turned out to be one of my best ever.  There were so many wonderful things about today.  I had a wonderful morning with Lynn, got some good work done at Central UMC, welcomed my brother for a great visit this afternoon, and enjoyed Jim’s company this evening.  Between I talked and/or Facetimed with Kay and her kids and Ann and kids.  I got very nice cards from multiple people, inside and out of our family, and some cool presents, too.  But the best was how much I enjoyed the company I had today.

After a nice breakfast with Lynn, I went to Central where I got all four bank accounts reconciled for October.  I also finished writing the first section of the training manual I’m writing for our new administrative assistant for QuickBooks.  I finished the Deposit section.  It took me a while but I got home in the early afternoon before Butch came.

He arrived around 2:00.  We spent a superb day together.  He replaced a breaker in our electrical panel which seemed to fix the issue I had with one of our circuits.  Then he installed a ground fault receptacle in our bedroom which helped us eliminate several extension cords which could have been fire hazards.  But it wasn’t all work—we also took a two mile hike and chatted a lot.  We got back from our hike just before Jim came.

Jim cut the leaves in our front lawn with his fancy mower then he went with Butch and me to Chicano Boys to grab our dinner.  Lynn had a 6:00 parent-teacher conference she was interpreting for so she couldn’t go with us.  She had an earlier conference as well.  Butch was kind enough to buy our dinners which we ate as soon as Lynn’s conference was over. 

All of this was going on as the news focused on the election.  As of the time I’m writing this things are still well in the air as to who will win the election.  Lynn and I will likely be watching well into the night, hoping for good news.

Lynn has asked me to get an Apple watch.  I’ve looked at the models and will likely order one tomorrow at her insistence.  I guess I can put it to good use.  I also got nice presents from Kay and Ann.  Kay got me a Shenandoah Valley apple cake from a Virginia bakery.  Ann got me an advent calendar with tasty preserves for each day.

Butch brought several things for me including an electrical meter, a WVU hat, and an Ohio U shirt.  He has done so much planning for our Thanksgiving dinner.

I also had a nice phone call from Paul and Sandy Porterfield this morning.  We’re hoping we can meet at the Greenbrier in February, possibly with Hal and Diane, too.  That would be super!

Coronavirus has taken a back seat today but I’m sure it hasn’t let up any just because it’s election day or my birthday.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 3         Infected                   Died

World               47,844,347           1,220,210

US                       9,692,528              238,641

Virginia               184,679                  3,666

Augusta County          732                         9

My math is that the number of new cases in the US is almost 130,000.  That is unbelievable.  Virginia had 1,200 new cases.

I am so thankful for living this long and this well and for being surrounded by loved ones.  I have been truly blessed.

 

November 4, 2020

Being so anxious about the election, last night was not a good nighit for sleep.  I awoke at 2:00 AM and didn’t really get back to sleep before getting up at 5:30. 

Never before have we not known the results of a Presidential election 24 hours after the polls closed but that is the case tonight.  The race is still very, very tight with votes being counted in a handful of states that will determine the outcome of this election.  As of this moment, Biden needs only a couple of more states to claim victory but he trails in most though the mail-in ballots now being counted tend to be Democratic.  It may be another 24 hours before we know.

I had another great day today especially with Butch’s company.  We got more jobs done today including installing another ground fault receptacle in Lynn’s sewing room. 

We ate well again, too.  We had Lynn’s English Muffins for breakfast.  For lunch, in addition to Millie Brown’s ham and bean soup, we had Lynn’s delicious apple pie again today.  This afternoon Lynn made more English Muffins and pepperoni rolls.  Wiley enjoys them so Butch will be taking back a bunch for him.  Tonight we got pizza and rigatoni from Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird and followed that up with ice cream from Smiley’s.  I’ve gained weight since Butch has been here!

We did get in some exercise this afternoon.  It was a marvelous day, sunny and warm, and the three of us walked the 3.7 mile Leaport Loop. 

After dinner, we were entertained with some ancient slides Butch brought.  There were about 100 slides in all, one set from Lynn’s college days in Mexico, one set from our rehearsal dinner, one set from Christmas in Altoona in 1978, and a small set from Morgantown in 1979.  He’s leaving the slides with me and I’ll get them all digitized.

Butch has made so many plans for Thanksgiving.  I hope it all works out for everyone.  He’s sparing no punches in expense.

With all the election hoopla going on, no one is paying attention to COVID-19 today.  Here are the stats:

November 4         Infected                   Died

World               48,411,814           1,230,100

US                       9,799,036              239,820

Virginia               185,836                  3,677

Augusta County          736                         9

It wasn’t a good day, either.  The US had over 100,000 new cases.  Whew!  Virginia had over 1,100 new cases. 

We’re heading to bed and will likely have the news on for a little while to see if Biden can creep closer to 270.  We’ll probably fall asleep long before he or Trump makes it, though.

 

November 5, 2020

We’re two days beyond the election and still don’t know who our next President will be.  It is looking much better for Joe Biden.  He can possibly win Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.  Trump will likely win North Carolina.  But Biden already has 253 electoral votes; Trump has only 214 so Trump cannot afford to lose any two of those states.  Biden is currently up in Arizona and Nevada; Trump leads in the other four but most of the votes being counted now are mailed-in votes which are heavily in favor of Biden.  Perhaps even later tonight we’ll know.  Some states are saying it will be well into Friday before they have them all counted.

COVID-19 is not stopping due to the election turmoil.  In fact, the US set a record for the most number of cases in one day in the past 24 hours. 

It has been almost funny watching Trump’s behavior during the past two days.  He has called for stopping the counting of votes (a real American thing to do!) in those states where he is leading yet calling for the count to continue in those in which he trails.  How ridiculous can he be!  He keeps saying the election has been fraudulent for which there is zero evidence.  He has tried to initiatve law suits in many of the states but certainly any judge, even if Republican, will dismiss those suits.

Tonight, Trump gave a speech to the public.  Earlier Biden spoke for a few minutes, saying that although he believes he will be declared the winner, he asked that Americans be patient until all the votes are counted.  He bragged about nothing and only seriously talked about the coronavirus pandemic.  When Trump took the microphone this evening, he said “if you count the legal votes, I easily win.  If you count the illegal votes they can try to steal the eletion from us.”  The truth is the votes that are coming in now and are causing his leads to disappear are mailed-in ones which were 100% legally submitted.  He bragged about all the Republican victories in the Senate and House.  He claimed that the Democrats benefited from spending by the rich and said Republicans were the party of the working class.  He showed absolutely no hint of conceding anything, hardly a surprise.  He won’t concede even when 100% of the votes have been counted.

Trump claims the election will end up in the Supreme Court.  He smeared the integrity of those working at the polls, lied that the mailed in voters were bogus, and illogically flailed away at the process of counting votes.  The irony is that he himself has voted by mail for years!

Lynn found a cute Facebook post today.  It said “when one door closes, another one opens.”  The first half of the quote had a picture of the White House behind it.  The second half had a picture of a jail cell.

Butch returned home today and messaged us that he got there safely.  It was a superb visit for Lynn and me and I honestly believe he likewise enjoyed it a lot.  It had been way too long that we spent quality time together.  I hope we are able to visit again often, not just at Thanksgiving which is only three weeks away.

Having been away from Central for a couple of days, I had some work to do on Central’s books today including one credit card reconciliation for October.  I have another one to do tomorrow and have several bills to pay.  I spent a good bit of time working on the manual I am writing for Savannah to use when I start teaching her how to do the bookkeeping.

Central’s bookkeeping has some tasks which are done weekly, one done twice a month, many done once monthly, and some done once each quarter.  I’ve been writing this training manual by focusing first on the tasks that are done weekly (deposits and bill paying).  I’ve finished that part now and am working on the credit card part now, especially since it was fresh in my mind from having reconciled one of our accounts today.

Lynn’s mother is not doing well at all now.  The hospice people have told her and her brother and sisters that perhaps her body is shutting down now.  She sleeps all the time, eats very little, and is just not herself.  Lynn visited her today but her only interaction was to watch her sleep.  It is sad but at least she is not in much pain.  We can all hope to make it to 101.

The news media tonight is going beserk over Trump’s defiance tonight claiming he is being cheated out of victory.  Many called for other elected Republican officials to stand up and defy his lying claims.

This story is easy to explain.  The Democrats, under the urging of Biden and others due to the pandemic, by and large voted early and frequently by mail.  The Republicans, under the urging of Trump, voted in person.  So when the votes are counted, the in-person votes are counted first and it is no surprise that Trump jumped out to a big lead.  Now that the mailed in votes are being counted and his lead is evaporating, he is claiming foul play.  There is nothing foul about this!  Yet he is claiming cheating and his loyal supporters, who believe everything he says, may perhaps resort to violence.  I hope not.

The big story tonight beyond the election is the continuing spread of COVID-19.  I commented to Lynn tonight that everywhere we go we see people wearing masks now.  Yet even in our county the number of cases is increasing.  Are the people who are wearing masks coming down with coronavirus?  I certainly hope not because she and I are among those who go to the stores though always with a mask.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 5         Infected                   Died

World               48,997,626           1,238,746

US                       9,913,215              240,910

Virginia               187,202                  3,688

Augusta County          742                         9

Indeed, there were over 113,000 new cases in the US in just the past 24 hours.  There were over 1,100 new cases in Virginia.  Were these people mask wearers?  I am concerned.

Tonight we had a Family Zoom meeting.  We weren’t able to last night since Butch was here.  One of the things I had to share with them is that Lynn talked me into buying an Apple watch for my birthday.  I’m going to order it from Apple.  Tonight we went to Verizon and talked with them about adding it to our account so I can answer my phone using it.  I suppose I’ll get it ordered tomorrow.

 

November 6, 2020

The weather has been beautiful for the past several days and the forecast is for more of the same for almost another week.  This is Indian Summer with highs in the 70’s and no sign of rain. 

Overnight and throughout the day the Presidential vote count continued.  It was amazing to watch this scene unfold.  From being way behind Tuesday night, by this afternoon Biden had taken a lead in the critical states of Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania—much more than he needed to secure the nomination.  He didn’t make up enough ground in Alaska or North Carolina to beat Trump but that didn’t matter.   But by the evening he was ahead by 23,000 votes in Nevada, 39,000 in Arizona, 4,100 in Georgia, and 15,000 in Pennsylvania.  Officially, none of these states were called for Biden yet but it won’t be long until all are.

I would have loved to have seen the look on Trump’s face over the last two days as his lead—as much as 450,000 in Pennsylvania—shrunk then disappeared.  By dinner time this evening, Biden was up by 15,000 votes in Pennsylvania and more votes were coming in.  Like most of the others that were counted yesterday and today, these are mailed in votes and are mainly Democratic. 

As I wrote yesterday, the spread of COVID-19 has gotten much, much worse over the past week, especially in the Midwest.  We’ve averaged over 100,000 new cases in each of the last three days in America.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 6         Infected                   Died

World               49,624,630           1,247,839

US                     10,044,774              242,113

Virginia               188,770                  3,682

Augusta County          750                         9

That’s more than 1,500 new cases in Virginia.  The number of deaths reported was lowered from the previous day—I’m not sure what went on there.

Trump has acted like a spoiled brat for the past two days, claiming the election was stolen from him, making baseless claims of voter fraud everywhere, and shows absolutely no sign of conceding even though the electoral college vote will now be a landslide.  What has been very interesting is to see how other Republicans have responded to his shenanigans.  Way too many of them, especially those in power like Mitch McConnell, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, and Bill Barr have not condemned him at all.  You’d think that even they would respect the process of counting all the votes.  I expected Trump and his children to act like babies but others should “man up” and admit defeat. 

I ordered my Apple watch this morning.  Now I’ll have to learn how to use it once it gets here next week.

I spent a lot of time at Central today.  I processed the payroll for November 13.  It was the first time I’d processed a payroll by myself.  I confess that I did have to call Sarah Russell for one small part of the process.  I took screen shots at every step in the process and after I had submitted our payroll I used them as I wrote the instructional manual I’ve been developing in order to train our administrative assistants.  I also had several bills to pay.

As soon as I got home from CUMC, Lynn and I went to Harrisonburg.  We had to stop by the bank and shop at Costco.  There were several items that I’d been asked to pick up for CUMC plus Lynn got some items for us.  On our way back home we stopped for our weekly Friday night hamburgers at the Old Schoolhouse food truck in Weyers Cave. 

For dessert I finished off the apple pie Lynn had made me for my birthday.  I love apple pie!

 

November 7, 2020

The day started off very early for us; at 3:30 AM we got the call from Lynn’s sister Kay that their mother had passed away.  While it was sad for Lynn to lose her mother, Mrs. Hanger had 101 years of love, good life, and good health.  She was a fine mother-in-law.  I drove Lynn to join Kay at The Legacy around 4:30 and we waited until the funeral home came at 5:30.  Then we came home and put together a draft of her obituary.

What a change in lifestyle this will be for Lynn.  She has gone to The Legacy nearly every day for months to visit with her mother and help her with meals.  She’s not wanted to leave the area for more than one night.  All that will be different now.

True to form, soon after we got back to the house Lynn started working on making more bow ties.  She had made several from old ties her Dad had owned.  She wanted to make one for every grandson and great grandson.  She needed a few more so she immediately got on that task, figuring that she would be seeing many of the recipients at her Mom’s service this coming week.

At 11:00 we went to the funeral home to make the arrangements for her funeral which will be graveside-only.  It is such a shame that COVID-19 will prohibit the family from having a service at Central to honor Mrs. Hanger.  She was the oldest living member at CUMC.  I know there are many in the area who would have come not just to honor Mrs. Hanger but to show their support for her family.

After the arrangements were made, Lynn and her sisters went back to The Legacy to start the process of gathering their mother’s belongings.  It is a process she and I have been through four times now.

When we got back, there was a huge box of food that our neighbors, Bee and Janet Myers, had left for us.  We invited Ann’s family to join us for dinner.

I had time this afternoon to watch the WVU – Texas football game.  It was very tough to watch.  The Mountaineers played very well but three times in the fourth quarter the officials blew it and it cost us the game.  First they overruled a touchdown WVU had scored on a pass saying the receiver didn’t have control of the football.  Then Texas threw a backwards pass which was fumbled and recovered by WVU and the officials said it was an incomplete pass.  But the killer was with a few minutes to go WVU went for it on 4th and goal and threw a pass into the end zone.  The defender was all over the WVU receiver long before the ball got there but no interference was called.  The entire WVU sideline went berserk and even the TV announcers said they couldn’t believe it.  Texas ran out the clock and won 17-13.  We got cheated.  I now I sound like Trump but at least I have evidence.  The replay clearly showed it.

Today is finally celebration time for us on the Biden side.  He was finally declared the winner today though Trump still hasn’t conceded.  There are still some states not called but the current electoral vote count is 290 – 214. 

It has been fun watching the celebrations going on nationwide with the Biden victory.  Thus far there has been no violence, fortunately.  Let’s hope that this will usher in less confrontation, less vitriol, and more unity.

The only bad part about all the partying going on today is the threat of COVID-19.  The people I see on TV celebrating are clearly not keeping their social distance.  This past week has been awful for the US.  I certainly hope that now we can get a grip on this plague.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 7         Infected                   Died

World               50,144,979           1,255,505

US                     10,172,991              243,226

Virginia               190,873                  3,704

Augusta County          788                         9

The numbers are climbing exponentially.  In just 24 hours we’ve had more than 2,000 new cases in Virginia, more than 130,000 new cases in the US.  With all the celebration of the election, there’s a dark cloud over us.

We’re both pretty wiped out this evening; it has been a long day.  I’m not sure we’ll be able to stay up for the President-Elect’s speech.  Oh well, that’s why we have a DVR!

 

November 8, 2020

Sure enough, we didn’t stay awake to hear Biden’s speech though we were able to catch most of it throughout the day today.  Lynn especially had a hard time sleeping through the night though I did OK.

This was a typical Sunday except for the weather—another beautiful, warm day.  So far this November the weather has been spectacular.  So has the news with the election….

After my Zoom Sunday School class Lynn and I made a quick trip to Harrisonburg where she shopped at both Kohl’s and Belk.  Then we came back in time for her to get bread ready to be baked.  Her friend Pat came over at 2:00 and brought a bunch of food for us. 

There’s still a lot of unknowns about the election results.  Of course, Trump hasn’t conceded.  Biden has announced he will be appointing a coronavirus task force but there’s some concern that the current administration won’t share the information with them.

The map of the cases shows that Virginia is in better shape than most states but there have still been over 100,000 new cases daily in the US.  Virginia is listed as one of eight states whose new cases in the past week compared to the previous week were steady.  There were 35 states showing a 10-50% increase and seven states showing more than a 50% increase.  None showed a decrease.  In terms of new deaths over the past week versus the previous week, Virginia was one of six states actually showing a 10 – 50% decrease.  There were 3 states showing more than a 50% decrease, 16 holding steady, 15 showing a 10 – 50% increase and 10 showing a 50% or more increase.  So the news could be worse for us though it is still awful for the US.

I’ve been working on a fun project—preparing a folder of slides for Thanksgiving.  Butch asked me if I could project pictures during our meal so I’m putting together an appropriate subset of my 50,000+ pictures.   I’ve picked about 2,000 for the show; it will project about 650 per hour so if the dinner lasts around three hours then most of the pictures will be seen.

This afternoon we went back to The Legacy and loaded up six trash bags of clothes that Mrs. Hanger had there.  We took them to Central for the Clothes Pantry there.  She had a lot of clothes!

Lynn’s friend Pat Collins came over to visit with her today and brought some soup which we had for dinner tonight.  It was a spinach and potato soup—very yummy.  Lynn has so many good friends….

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 8         Infected                   Died

World               50,730,541           1,261,980

US                     10,288,480              243,768

Virginia               192,175                  3,707

Augusta County          789                         9

Augusta County only reported one additional case since yesterday—I hope this is actually the case and not just that nobody is reporting on a Sunday.  The US was again over 100,000 new cases and Virginia had over 1,200 new ones though only three new deaths.

 

November 9, 2020

The news is so repetitive:  COVID-19 is still spreading rampantly, Trump refuses to concede, the weather has been great, and I worked for a long time at Central UMC again.

One thing that doesn’t happen repetitively is that Henry turned 16 today.  Our oldest grandson is driving now and doing very well in school.  Tonight we had our customary treasure hunt for him with one big difference.  For many years I’ve made his treasure hunts math problems he had to solve to figure out the clues.  But this year, since he is taking Spanish 3 at Fort Defiance High School, Lynn made up his treasure hunt—all in Spanish.  I had made him a card with a dozen picures of him over the past year and inside the card we put his monetary present.  We are so proud of him (and the other seven grandchildren!).

The weather was so good that after I had made my run from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to Central for our Food Pantry this afternoon I played tennis with Pastor Won.  Both of us were out of shape and didn’t hit very well but at least we were out there.

This morning I made the weekly deposit at Central and did a few more QuickBooks tasks.  I showed Savannah a few things about our setup but didn’t start training her yet in how to do deposits and check writing. 

Pfizer announced today that their vaccine is over 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.  It means that protection from Covid-19 is achieved 28 days after the initial vaccination, which consists of a two-dose schedule. The CEO of Pfizer called it “a great day for science and humanity.”   It can’t come too quickly:  five days in a row the US has had over 100,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.

ABC news reported that Pfizer said they will provide the vaccine to health care providers and seniors first.  They need an emergency authorization from the CDC before distributing it.  ABC said that by December or January, health care workers would get it.  By February through March, seniors would get it and most Americans could have it by April through June.  Let’s hope!

Another issue, of course, is that many Americans are anti-vaxers and won’t take it no matter what.  They are just plain stupid IMHO.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 9         Infected                   Died

World               51,222,215           1,268,849

US                     10,411,013              244,392

Virginia               193,477                   3713

Augusta County          808                       10

Virginia again had over 1,300 new cases.  Augusta County’s cases jumped by 19 and had one more death. 

 

November 10, 2020

Here was the bad news from ABC this evening:  There were 165,000 new cases of COVID-19 in just the past 24 hours.  Cases are on the rise in all 50 states.  This translate to 74 Americans diagnosed every minute.  Some have warned there could be 20,000,000 infected by Christmas.  There are more Americans hospitalized than ever before. 

The news also included information about Pfizer’s new vaccine and its plans to distribute it.  They say they can produce 20,000,000 doses every month.  By the end of January all health care workers should have it.  This vaccine is hard to move; it must be stored at -94o.    Dr. Fauci says most Americans could get it by late April. 

No surprise, Trump still won’t concede.  He tweeted today “We will win!”  He is pushing Bill Barr to prosecute voting fraud cases even though Barr can’t find any.  The Washington Post reported today that a Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans admitted fabricating allegations of ballot tampering. 

This is the type of leadership America elected in 2016—someone who won’t play by the rules, admit defeat, or graciously allow the next administration to take over.  Every other administration in America’s history has cooperated with its successor.  Trump is not just a lame duck, he is a looney duck.

I should sing the praises of Lynn’s friends.  They have been so thoughtful to her (and me) during this grieving period.  Bee and Janet Myers brought a huge bag of food to use earlier this week; Pat Collins sent a huge pot of spinach and potato soup and a rich chocolate cheese cake.  Cheryl Kent sent ham sandwiches and a cake.  And Ann topped off my palate by dropping by some of the meat loaf she had made for Henry’s birthday yesterday.  Yum!

I hope we’re doing the right thing by keeping our Thanksgiving plans in Ohio intact.  There are several medical professionals encouraging American families to forgo the big dinner this year.

Today was a busy day.  I spent the morning at Central while Lynn went shopping with her friend Cheryl Kent.  Then we met at The Legacy.  I had my truck and first loaded up Mrs. Hanger’s old mattress and a bunch of other trash.  Lynn and I took them to the dump then returned to The Legacy where we loaded up her bed which needs some work.  Jim has offered to look at it.

We got home in time to take a two mile walk.  Today was probably the last pretty day in a long while.  We’ve been spoiled by much higher than average temperatures and no rain.   Tomorrow all of that will come to an end.  We got home in time to meet Freddie.  Ann picked him up and later brought Henry by to get some documents printed at our house.

This evening, after an early dinner, we went to Smiley’s for ice cream than to Walmart to pick up pictures I had sent there of Lynn’s parents.  She wants to hand them out at her mother’s funeral on Saturday.

It took several attempts to get everyone happy but we finally did create an obituary that met with everyone’s approval.  It took longer than I anticipated.  We actually created two obituaries—one for the funeral home to post on its site and an abbreviated version for the Staunton News Leader.

Here are today’s awful coronavirus statistics:

November 10       Infected                   Died

World               51,791,296           1,278,460

US                     10,577,767              245,785

Virginia               194,912                   3726

Augusta County          810                       10

That’s over 1,500 new cases in Virginia over the past 24 hours in addition to the 165,000 new cases in the US.  Tonight we had to go inside Walmart to pick up the pictures I had sent there.  I saw approximately ten men there with no masks on.  Stupidity lives!

 

November 11, 2020

This was a holiday for lots of folks.  For retired people like us, every day is a holiday!  So it was a typical day except we didn’t get mail.

 

I went to CUMC early to work on my QuickBooks manual but returned by 10:00 so we could go to Charlottesville this morning.  Lynn wanted to get some fabric at Jo Ann Fabric in Charlottesville.  She was successful in buying some fabric that would work well as covers for the kids’ seesaw seats so she came home and made them. 

 

Today was rainy, the first sign of rain we’ve had in November.  It was still unseasonably warm and even tonight the temperature is near 60o.  Change is in the forecast, though.

 

The news on the national front is nothing new:  COVID-19 infections are up in all 50 states and Trump is still refusing to concede the election.  The overall vote total for Biden is now more than 5 million higher than Trump’s.  Trump’s lawyers have not been successful in any lawsuit yet regarding the election.  One Facebook post today said he was like the New York Jets:  0-12.

 

I made an appointment with Verizon Wireless in Staunton for tomorrow afternoon.  They are to help me connect my new Apple watch to my phone.  After that I should be able to use it.  So far I haven’t even taken it out of the box it was shipped in.

 

Our garage is overflowing now with furniture and other goods from Mrs. Hanger’s.  I don’t know why I call it a garage—there’s no way a car could fit into it.

 

Lynn and I are considering a short stay at The Greenbrier in early December.  We haven’t made a final decision yet but did check some dates.  We tried to call them today to check on availability/rates but never were able to talk to anyone.  We kept being put on hold and/or asked to leave a message.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

 

November 11       Infected                   Died

World               52,421,132           1,288,895

US                     10,708,007              247,397

Virginia               196,506                   3741

Augusta County          828                       10

 

This was the 8th straight day that the US has had more than 100,000 new cases.  Virginia had over 1,500 new cases.

November 12, 2020

The US has an all-time record in COVID-19 hospitalizations today.  This comes eight months after this thing started.  The vaccine can’t come soon enough!  Throughout the nation hospitals are running out of space according to ABC news.  There were 145,000 new cases yesterday, a record.  Dr. Fauci said today that the same advice he’s been giving for months now needs to be taken seriously.  He said that by April or May the ordinary citizen should be vaccinated. 

Donald Trump said that news about COVID-19 would disappear as soon as the election was over.  This shows his ignorance.

This has been a day of mixed emotions for me.  Nothing seemed to go right this morning.  I decided to open my new Apple watch box and see if I could start setting it up knowing that we had a 1:00 appointment at Verizon to connect it to my phone.  As soon as I took it out of the box it said to set it up using my phone.  But my phone had a message that it couldn’t set up the watch because it needed a software update.  So I let the phone cook for 30 minutes and install the latest IOS on my iPhone 6.  But when I then tried to set it up I again got the message that it couldn’t set up the phone because my phone needed a software update.  But the phone said no more updates were available.

My temper quickly rose so I called the 800 number of Apple and, surprisingly, was connected to a tech support person pretty quickly.  She stumbled with an explanation then told me I needed to update my phone through the computer instead of via WiFi so I connected it and tried.  Same story.  She even took control of my MacBook, couldn’t figure out what to do, then put me on hold.

The explanation was simple, she said.  My iPhone was too old to be used with the watch because it couldn’t be upgraded to the newest IOS and the newest IOS was required by the watch.  I was livid.  I saw nowhere on the Apple Watch site that this was a requirement and the man at Verizon didn’t give me any indication that my iPhone 6 wouldn’t work.  I very unpolitely told the Apple support person that I wanted to buy a watch, not a phone and a watch.  I asked her to direct me to how I could ship the watch back.  I told her that I would think about it before acting but I still wanted to have the option to return the watch because I didn’t want to have to go to the expense of buying a new watch AND a new phone.

Lynn was insistent that my phone was old anyway and I should get a new one.  If it had been just up to me, that watch would be on its way back to Cupertino tonight.  I was really mad.  In the meantime, Lynn had a conflict with our afternoon appointment at Verizon so we moved it to the evening after dinner.

All day I stewed about this.  I went back to the website for the Apple Watch.  I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled and found nothing until I got to the very end.  There, in a tiny, tiny font, was a note that said that iPhone 6+ or higher was required. 

I spent the entire day at Central.  First, I joined a meeting Bill Bushman had arranged with a sound man about improvements to our sound system.  Pastor Won has it in his mind that the video streaming we’re now doing of the Sunday morning services should continue even when the pandemic is behind us.  Yet Bill admitted that only 5-6 people typically watch the stream.  The audio man said if we wanted to upgrade the stream we’d need a dedicated camera, dedicated laptop, and perhaps a monthly contract with a streaming service.  But even when he heard how few people viewed the stream he said that the investment of several thousand dollars in equipment wouldn’t be worth it.  He agreed to rig up a way to connect the iPad now used for streaming to our sound system.  I just hope I can convince Won to stick with this solution.  Our church can’t afford to spend lots of money on an expensive streaming setup, in my opinion.

I then had lots of work to do with QuickBooks.  I won’t rant too much but again I had issues.  I wanted to get screen shots of the reconciliation process for the manual I am writing so I thought it would be easy to undo the October reconciliation, taking screen shots at each step of the process.  But I hadn’t anticipated that the balance which came up as the beginning balance did not match what it was when I reconciled the October books ten days ago.  It took me a while to find the mistake.  I finally was able to get it reconciled again and made all the screen shots I needed.

I only have three more sections of the manual to write:  apportionments, taxes, and payroll liabilities.  I also need to do a table of contents.  The manual already is over 45 pages and will be around 50 when I finish.  Maybe I can get the apportionment section done tomorrow.  I’ll have to wait until next week to do the other two when the taxes and payroll liabilities are paid.

I got home in time to meet Freddie’s school bus.  Josh came over soon thereafter and dropped Henry to do some homework using our WiFi.  Lynn and I grabbed a calzone from the Mount Sidney Flying Pizza then headed to Verizon.

I promised Lynn that I would hold my temper there and it wasn’t easy, especially when the sales rep kept adding on things I needed to pay to get a new phone (set up charges, transfer charges, monthly charges, new phone cost).  The total came to around $500.  I had backed up my iPhone 6 to my laptop in the morning and took it with me into the Verizon store.  I opted to get the same phone Lynn got, an iPhone SE.  I was able to restore all of my apps and settings to the new phone while we were still at Verizon then the Verizon employee connected my new watch to it.

I’ll have to admit I’ve had some fun playing with the watch this evening.  It is fairly simple to use and will mean I won’t have to constantly get my phone out of my pocket to answer or make calls.  I’ll look like Star Trek talking to my watch.

The watch also gets my messages and e-mails.  It keeps track of lots of other things such as my heart rate, the current weather and its forecast, etc.  Maybe I’ll like it…

I could just copy and paste the news about coronavirus and Donald Trump from any of the past several days:  cases rising, still no concessions and more false claims.

ABC said this about Trump:  President Donald Trump, who has remained almost entirely out of sight for nearly a week, has demonstrated little evidence of — or interest in — governing in the wake of the election, as he persists in refusing to concede defeat.  The president’s absence from the spotlight — the longest stretch of silence of his presidency – comes as the coronavirus pandemic rages across most of the country and the nation continues to break records for new cases and hospitalizations. Closer to home, more top aides and allies of the president have tested positive for the virus after a packed, indoor White House party last week where Trump falsely claimed victory in the election.

November 12       Infected                   Died

World               53,082,241           1,299,220

US                     10,873,936              248,585

Virginia               198,027                   3758

Augusta County          833                       10

The US numbers are scary:  165,000 new cases and 1,100 new deaths.  Virginia had 1,500 new cases and 17 more deaths. 

Another project I’ve been working on today is upgrading Central’s webserver at GoDaddy.  We had an issue several weeks ago and when I contacted GoDaddy’s technical support they commented that when the renewal is up we should ask them to move our website to a newer service.  So I called today to see about getting this done.  One thing I don’t think anyone else knows is that Central’s website fees have always been paid by Lynn and me.  I found out that to upgrade our service would cost about $400 for three years.  I think we’ll go ahead with this.  Today was a costly day for the Hills!  Fortunately, we’ve got the funds to handle this.

This was a busy day but we still worked in a way to get to Smiley’s tonight so Lynn could get a milkshake.  For a change, I didn’t get ice cream.  I got a Reading Soda which I had noticed that they had in their refrigerator.  Our family got a tour of the Reading Soda company when we were in Reading PA two summers ago.  It was very interesting to see how they bottle their soda and it is quite tasty!

November 13, 2020

Today was an all-around good day.  The weather returned to being great and it was a very productive day. 

I started out early at Central with QuickBooks.  I finished one more section of my manual and now only have two more to go.  I also paid a bill and still managed to get back home by 11:00.  By the time I got here, Jim had already arrived and was ready to work.

He and I (well, to be honest, mostly he) got the yard in much better shape.  We spent about four hours trimming shrubs, cutting grass, weed whacking, and basically cleaning up.  All of this was in preparation for the family get-together which takes place here tomorrow afternoon after Mrs. Hanger’s funeral.

Jim was very helpful as he always is.  He brought some of his outside tools which helped a lot.  We got everything trimmed up and then made a run to the dump.  The only thing left to do is to blow the sidewalk and back porch off which we’ll do in the morning.  The family is coming over to eat and it will all be outside.  The nice folks at Central are providing lots of food and several other friends are, too.

Several other things got taken care of today.  I had reworked Mrs. Hanger’s obituary to make its appearance nicer.  Lynn took it to Staples and got it printed and laminated for all the children and grandchildren.  And, I was able to take care of Central’s website upgrade at GoDaddy.  The CUMC website has been on GoDaddy’s server for years and years.  It needed to be moved to a newer platform.  The GoDaddy representative I worked with was able to get the migration at no cost to Central. 

Lynn has also been working on making pink masks today.  All the family women are going to wear them at tomorrow’s funeral to honor her mother.  Lynn posted her Mom’s obituary on Facebook and 69 people send her sympathy comments. 

Tonight was hamburger night at the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  Jim, Lynn, and I each enjoyed a burger and fries. 

With the most recent projections of Arizona and Georgia for Biden, and North Carolina and Alaska for Trump, ABC News has now projected winners in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

The final projected Electoral College tally stands at 306 for Biden, 232 for Trump.  So, after all, it was a landslide.  Of course, Trump still refuses to concede even though more court cases brought by his cronies about voter fraud were thrown out today.  And, Pennsylvania will not order a recount.  Trump is toast!  By the way, the electoral count this year is the same as it was in 2016 with Trump over Hillary Clinton.

The news is unchanged on the coronavirus front—cases continue to explode throughout the US.  Here are the numbers:

November 13       Infected                   Died

World               53,729,641           1,308,563

US                     11,061,796              249,973

Virginia               199,262                   3785

Augusta County          847                       10

Another 1,200 new cases in Virginia and 27 deaths.

This was from ABC news:  Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced new measures aimed at combatting the spread of coronavirus in the commonwealth. They include:

-All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.

-Expansion of mask mandate to all Virginians aged 5 and over, down from 10 years and older.

-Tightened retail requirements for physical distances, face coverings and cleaning, now enforceable as a Class One misdemeanor.

-On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery or tasting room.

Virginia is averaging 1,500 newly reported COVID-19 cases per day, up from a statewide peak of approximately 1,200 in May.

November 14, 2020

Today was the fourth and final time for Lynn and me—attending the funeral of one of our parents.  On the one hand, everything went well today.  The weather was fine for a mid-November day.  The funeral was well-attended by family.  Mrs. Hanger’s next-door-neighbor, Rev. Kenneth Price, did a superb job in leading the short graveside services.  Most everyone came back to our house where there was food and fellowship a-plenty. 

However, it would be wrong to call this a good day.  It was a sad day.  Mrs. Hanger lived a very long and good life but it is sad that Lynn and her siblings no longer have her in their lives.  All three of them visited her, almost every day, at The Legacy.  All were very close to her.  She was never a cranky old lady and they were never children who complained about taking care of their mother.  Her mind was sharp to the end.  She always treated me well and was the glue for her large and semi-diverse family.  So this day was not a beautiful one. 

Jim and I spent a couple of hours this morning getting the yard ready for the 20 or so who came to our house after the funeral.  He was super helpful the past two days.  I am so proud to have a son like him.

So many people helped out the Hanger family.  Cheryl Kent came to our house while we were at the gravesite and helped get the tons of food that the Central UMC Nurture Committee had provided.  They had sent lots of country ham biscuits, two fruit trays, three of Millie Brown’s delicious cakes plus her cookies including some eggless ones.  Central also sent ice tea.  Ann made lots of cupcakes.  Donna Morris made sugar cookies just like Mrs. Hanger used to make them.  Kay Carter brought individually wrapped salads.  Mary Gooden had left a veggie tray and egg salad sandwiches.  Unquestionably, we had a feast.

COVID-19 has made it hard to grieve.  We maintained our social distance and nearly everyone wore a mask the entire time both at the funeral and at our house.  Hugs were almost non-existent.  Such a shame!

With good help from everyone who was still here at the end, cleanup went quickly and it wasn’t long before Jim and Kay both reported making it home safely.  We are so blessed—blessed to have had Mrs. Hanger in our lives for so long and blessed to have such a great family of our own.

I’ve commented before that I spent more years with Mrs. Hanger in my life than with my own mother.  It was almost exactly 40 years ago that my Mom died.  Now Lynn will have that hole in her heart that I’ve had since 1980.  Yes, the hole seems to get smaller over time but it never goes away.  There’s just no way you can forget your mother. 

This evening I relaxed by watching the WVU – TCU football game which was on earlier and I had recorded.  When you watch a game that way, fast forwarding through commercials and halftime, it doesn’t take that long to see the game.  This game was fun to watch as WVU dominated, 24-6. 

During the game I penned a Congregational Prayer that I am scheduled to give tomorrow at Central.  This will be the first time I’ve attended a morning worship service since we resumed services last month.  I don’t plan on being there for the entire service—the prayer is after the sermon so I may just watch the live stream from the parking lot and come in when the sermon is over then leave.

The COVID-19 uptick is worrisome for our Thanksgiving plans.  Many national and state officials are encouraging people to stay home this year.  We’re committed to going to Athens and Butch has gone to a lot of trouble to prepare for our coming.  I’m hoping conditions improve over the next ten days but it doesn’t look like they’re headed that way.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 14       Infected                   Died

World               54,318,729                 1,318,

US                     11,226,038              251,256

Virginia               200,779                   3799

Augusta County          859                       10

I had a nice surprise in the mail today.  Sybille Jobin and Pastor Won apparently got together and decided to send me a gift for my work on the church’s books.  They sent me a $100 gift card.  Wow!  Lynn and I are so blessed to be surrounded by nice people.  She has received many, many sympathy cards in the mail.

November 15, 2020

Two days in a row I have worn a tie now.  This is the first time since the pandemic hit that I’ve had on dark socks and a tie.  I wore a suit at Mrs. Hanger’s funeral yesterday and today had agreed to do the Congregational Prayer at Central.  I was hesitant to be there for the whole service so I just showed up in time to do the prayer then left.  I had forewarned Pastor Won I’d be doing that.

There’s some doubt being cast now on the Ohio Thanksgiving.  First, we learned last night from Butch that the Ohio Governor has threatened to close all restaurants on Friday if their infection rate doesn’t improve.  No restaurant would kill our Thanksgiving plans, for sure.  Also, he told us that he would going to get tested so we’d know if he was healthy or not.  But then came the news this morning that cousin Kit was pulling out.  She said that one person at her dental office had tested positive and she was fearful of having to close the practice.  Of course, without the Danglers coming my sister won’t be there, either.

We’re not sure yet what to do and will likely wait a few days to make a final decision.  If we don’t do the Thanksgiving dinner this month perhaps we’ll do some other kind of celebration in Ohio in 2021.

Lynn and I went to Costco this afternoon just for a few items.  Then we stopped at Smiley’s for an afternoon treat.  Today was the last day we could redeem the $1 off coupons she and I had a slew of from back when we took the family to the corn maze adjacent to the ice cream store. 

After dinner we decided to watch a Netflix original movie called Jingle Jangle.  It was a musical fantasy.  The kids would like it.

This was the bad news on the ABC news site tonight:  The United States surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases Sunday, less than a week after it reached 10 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.  The U.S. leads the world in both cases and in deaths, with 246,006 fatalities, according to the data.  Saturday marked the eleventh consecutive day with over 100,000 COVID-19 cases recorded, health data showed. In the last week, the U.S. has reported a new weekly record of cases, with 989,825.  That means approximately one in every 331 Americans tested positive for COVID-19 this week.  The U.S. case number crossed the 10 million mark on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins.  The country is currently averaging over 141,000 new coronavirus cases every day, which was a 38% jump in averages from the last week.  Since Nov. 1, the U.S. has reported over 1.7 million new cases.  The U.S. is currently averaging over 1,000 reported COVID-19 deaths per day, with 7,708 American deaths recorded this week, and 14,634 deaths in the last two weeks.

Here are the numbers from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

November 15       Infected                   Died

World               54,804,194           1,324,025

US                     11,365,052              251,832

Virginia               201,960                   3800

Augusta County          861                       10

Virginia had over 1,100 new cases but only one additional death.  Not sure those figures are correct.

The weather has returned to more typical November weather, unfortunately.  Today was rainy for a while with lots of wind which made it seem colder than the 60o thermometer reading.  This coming week is forecast to be dry but not nearly as warm as last week.  

November 16, 2020

ABC had some good news today about another COVID-19 vaccine:  In another promising medical development, the biotechnology company Moderna has announced its COVID-19 vaccine could be up to 94.5% effective.  This puts them roughly on track along with Pfizer for possible limited authorization by the FDA as soon as December. Moderna is expected to have 20 million doses to go along with Pfizer’s 50 million for global distribution before more can be made in 2021.  Moderna also announced promising data Monday about how the vaccine can be shipped and stored. According to the company, the vaccine can safely be stored for up to six months in a normal freezer, and up to 30 days in a normal refrigerator.  Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at around -94 degrees Fahrenheit — far colder than a typical freezer can accommodate. Because of these temperature requirements, the company will ship vaccine doses in special temperature-controlled thermal boxes packed with dry ice.

The recent announcements about vaccines just add another layer of difficulty in making a decision about having Thanksgiving in Ohio.  It would be a shame if we all went and some got COVID-19 with an effective vaccine just a couple of months away.  Butch exchanged several chats today with Lynn.  He said he could back out from the dinner reservations he has made at Ohio University Inn as late as next Monday at no cost to him.  The Ohio Governor is supposed to make an announcement this Friday as to whether he’ll institute more bans on restaurants.  So we’ll likely wait until his announcement to decide.  Certainly, if the Ohio U restaurant is not allowed to be open then our plans will be canceled.  But even if they are allowed to continue, Lynn and I are starting to have some doubts about going, thinking that a postponement might be in order.  At any rate, we’ll wait until Friday to decide.

I spent nearly the entire day at Central today.  I started out by doing my twice-monthly job of counting the weekly deposit along with Sam Richardson.  After we finished it, I gave Savannah Murrin a quick lesson in making QuickBooks deposits by letting her do this week’s.  By the time I had paid a few bills, I had to hustle home to pick up the truck for Food Pantry delivery. 

I picked up the food from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and delivered it to Central.  Though the load was so large it took two trucks to get it all, it didn’t take that long to get the trucks unloaded.  So I headed back to the Treasurer’s office to figure out how to pay the federal and state monthly taxes which were due today.

As I figured out how to pay these, I took screen shots at every step, then wrote the directions in my manual.  Likewise, I did the same for what are known as other Payroll Liabilities such as Health/Dental Insurance for the Pastor.  It took an enormously long time to get all of this done.  For example, just on the federal tax section alone I took fifteen screen shots.  I left Central after 5:00 which didn’t please Lynn at all because I had promised to pick up pizza for us in Penn Laird. 

Indeed, I did get the pizza and got home at 6:30 but she had already fixed herself something else to eat and was very displeased with me.  This has happened to us so often:  I underestimate how long it will take me to complete a task at work, then come home much later than I had told her.  By the time I get home, she is understandably “hangry.”  I can’t begin to write how many times this has happened to us.  I am not blaming her; I am at fault for not postponing my work until the next day.  I just keep thinking “Five more minutes and I’ll be done” over and over again.

The entire job of being church treasurer takes more time than I thought it would, especially now that I’m writing the how-to manual for future bookkeepers.  There are a few parts that I still need more understanding of.

COVID-19 has not let up.  ABC reports that nearly 70,000 people are currently hospitalized due to complications with COVID-19 as intensive care units around the country run out of space and supplies. The number of hospitalizations shows no signs of slowing down after the seven-day average of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 23%, according to an ABC News analysis of the trends across 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., using data from the COVID Tracking Project. The U.S. is now averaging almost 145,000 new cases a day — nearly four times the daily average from just two months ago. In the last seven days, the average number of new COVID-19 cases has increased by 35%.  \

Here are today’s numbers from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

November 16       Infected                   Died

World               55,335,013           1,331,698

US                     11,533,598              252,632

Virginia               204,637                   3806

Augusta County          870                       10

The Virginia Department of Health had this note on its website:  The 2,677 case count reported on Monday, November 16 is due to a catch-up from the VDH data system being down for upgrades for a few hours over the weekend. 

November 17, 2020

The temperature today was in the 40’s and low 50’s but the wind was awful so it felt like the 30’s.  Weather.com says it is now 38o but feels like 32o.  Brrrr!  I hate to be cold. 

I only spent one hour at Central today after spending all day yesterday.  I was able to print and hole punch my manual.  It ended up being 58 pages long.  I also paid a few bills. 

Today was errand day.  I ran an errand for Lynn on my way to Central.  Then, when I got back, I went to John Bauman’s house and dropped off some things that had been given to me by Bill Bushman to deliver to him.  I went to the dump and got rid of about 15 bags of leaves which I had taken from Central yesterday.  Then Lynn and I went to Dollar Tree in Staunton before getting back in time for Freddie’s bus.

Poor Freddie—it was so cold outside and he again wore shorts.  I don’t know how his little legs can stay warm on such a cold day.  Lynn worked with him a little on reading in our kitchen and basement but he still insisted on going outside to play in the cold.  It took Ann a while to get here but we enjoyed his company.

There is a story in the Staunton Newspaper today about a COVID-19 outbreak at a Staunton rehabilitation center.  Here is what the paper had to say: the rising tide of COVID-19 is becoming deadly for Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation in Staunton. The facility has 117 certified beds and 106 patients have COVID-19, leaving the facility — and its residents — wading through the infection.   The Virginia Department of Health’s long-term care task force currently states that there are 106 active COVID-19 cases and eight deaths. However, the COVID-19 related data through VDH doesn’t have a specific date that new COVID-19 cases and deaths have occurred.

That rehab center was next door to The Legacy where Lynn’s Mom lived for several years. 

The Staunton paper reported that the number of cases in Augusta County Public Schools just hit a record high. There were 16 cases in Augusta County Public Schools between November 9-13. It’s the second week in a row that the division set a record after having 15 cases the previous week.

Since students returned to school in a hybrid format Sept. 1, Augusta County has had a total of 78 cases. The 31 in the past two weeks represents 39.7% of the total cases this school year.  For the schools that our grandchildren go to, Fort Defiance High School has had 6 student and one faculty case thus far this year; Stewart Middle has had 3 student cases; Clymore Elementary has had 1 student and 1 faculty positive case thus far this school year.

The paper also reported that COVID cases are on the rise again locally, even as testing is down.  With 277 new cases reported in November, the area is heading for a record-breaking month of over 500 cases of the novel coronavirus.  And testing is down: if the current area rate holds, there will be 1,600 fewer tests in November than October.  More cases and less testing means a higher positivity rate. The 6.2% positivity rate in the area in November is a full third higher than last month.  The paper reported that eleven Augusta County communities have a positivity rate higher than the state’s most recent rate of 8.2%.   One of those was Fort Defiance.

The paper also hinted that the Augusta Health hospital was experiencing an outbreak of COVID though they have been tight-lipped about this. 

ABC news tonight said that Pfizer announced that as soon as the FDA gives them emergency authorization people will have their vaccine within hours.  Cases are on the rise in every state; November is already the worst month since the pandemic began.  Hospitalizations are rising in 49 of the 50 states.  Over 73,000 are now hospitalized with COVID-19.

I wonder what percentage of my 325 pages of blog that I’ve written since April 20 have been devoted to news about COVID and/or Trump.  I’ll bet it’s near 90%.  Actually, there has been little news of importance about anything else in the past nine months. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 17       Infected                   Died

World               55,913,754           1,342,613

US                     11,680,102              254,085

Virginia               206,762                  3,835

Augusta County          914                       10

Wow, Augusta County’s one day total increased by 44.  The VDH site reported that there were currently 35 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  Staunton has 22 currently hospitalized and has had 11 deaths.  Of course, Rockingham County and Harrisonburg are much worse.  Together they have had over 5,000 positive cases and 67 deaths.

Virginia’s daily total increased by over 2,000.  That’s the most I can recall in all the time I’ve been writing this. 

November 18, 2020

Today was a busy and productive day for me.  Lynn and I left early for Harrisonburg this morning so we could shop at Costco during the Senior Hour.  We had several things to get including an iPad for Central UMC.  We were able to get everything on our list including hard-to-get Chlorox wipes. 

As soon as we got back, I put on long underwear and an extra sweatshirt because I spent the next four hours outside on a very, very cold day.  The temperature was initially in the high 30’s and eventually got into the low 40’s.  But, to be honest, I didn’t get cold because the wind wasn’t blowing and the sun was brightly shining despite the cold temps.  I worked with four other Central men on a mission project at a house in Verona.  The lady there, Janet Nuckoles’ sister-in-law, had a storage shed that was leaking because it badly needed a new roof.  We started at 10:00 and by 2:00 the shed had a new shingled roof.  The other men were much more skilled than I, of course, but I managed to pitch in and help.  I was tired this evening after having done physical labor for so long which I wasn’t used to. 

When I got home I posted some pictures of our work on the Central website then headed to CUMC to do a few small jobs including delivering the iPad and disinfectant wipes.  I had done the Congregational Prayer at Sunday’s service which was live-streamed, but the audio quality on the stream was terrible.  Supposedly this was because an old iPad was used for the stream and that’s why the church wanted a new one.  In the meantime, Pastor Won asked me if I would re-record the prayer which I did this afternoon.

Lynn cooked a really nice chicken casserole tonight for dinner.  She had found a new recipe that included chicken breasts, black olives, cheese, green peppers, sour cream, and corn tortillas.  Yum!

Tonight was our weekly Zoom meeting but no one joined us.  I guess they all had busy evenings.

I wish I had different news about COVID-19 but the news is more of the same.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 18       Infected                   Died

World               56,544,327           1,353,906

US                     11,869,528              256,206

Virginia               208,833                  3,860

Augusta County          938                       11

There were significant changes to every statistic above.  Virginia saw more than 2,000 new cases in one day and 25 new deaths.  Augusta County had an increase of 24 cases and one death.  The US saw a whopping 180,000 new cases and more than 2,000 new deaths.  Boy are we heading in the wrong direction!

Last night we started watching a new Netflix series called Emily in Paris.  It was recommended to us by Sandy Porterfield.  We watched five episodes last night and will likely watch a couple more this evening.

November 19, 2020

We fell asleep before watching more episodes of Emily in Paris last night.  As I’ve gotten older, the more sleep I seem to need each night.  We go to bed usually by 9:00 PM and don’t get up until around 6:00 AM.  Part of that time is spent watching the news—usually from 5:00 – 6:00 AM.

I had very little on my schedule for today.  Ann asked a favor if I could take Henry to the neighboring farm where he sometimes works so I did that first thing this morning.  I believe he was going to work there all day.  It was another cold day, windier than yesterday, so I hope he was able to stay warm.

Lynn, on the other hand, had a busy day.  Her two Cheryl friends came over this morning and the three of them sat out on the back porch in 30o-40o weather for two hours.  I guess they were bundled up well.  She and Cheryl Kent then did a few craft things inside before lunch.  Then she and I took a two mile walk.  Though the temperature outside was higher than it was yesterday, I still got colder today because there was a steady cold wind.

Her foot is just about healed now, I suppose.  After walking with me she went into Staunton and walked again with her friend Pat Collins.  I stayed here so I’d be here when Freddie’s bus arrived though Josh was here on time for it.

Before she went in to walk, Robin and Ronnie Brown stopped by to bring her a flower and card in sympathy for her mother.  The four of us sat on the pergola and talked for a little while.  We have gotten much more use out of the pergola than I would ever have imagined, mostly, of course, because of COVID-19 and not wanting to have people inside.  I’m going to see if I can name all of the people who have swung with us since it was built in July:  Ann’s and Kay’s families, Jim, Bee and Janet Myers, Cheryl Kent, Cheryl Wright, Lynn’s friend Carol Mitchell and her husband Shawn, Tom and Connie Davis, John and Ginny Bauman, Bill and Martha Bushman, Donna Morris, Dave and Terri Grembi, Mary Gooden, Pat Collins, my brother Butch, Robin and Ronnie Brown.

Lynn’s Cricut machine is an older model and couldn’t do some of the things she wanted to be able to do so I convinced her we should order a newer model.  It arrived today.  I’m sure she will put it to full use.  This one can even engrave. 

The weather tomorrow is supposed to be the best day in quite a while.  I’ll need to do some outside work.  Plus, Pastor Won has a few chores he wants me to do on QuickBooks so I’ll probably spend some time at CUMC.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 19       Infected                   Died

World               57,191,500           1,364,481

US                     12,048,552              258,085

Virginia               210,787                  3,896

Augusta County          954                       11

Augusta County has 39 people currently hospitalized with coronavirus.  That seems like a lot.  Virginia had almost 2,000 new cases and 36 new deaths.

Weighing heavy on our minds today is the decision about Thanksgiving.  We’re going to make the final decision tomorrow as to whether we’ll go to Ohio next week or not.  There’s a lot of pressure from state and national authorities to stay home this Thanksgiving.  The CDC is pushing hard for Americans to stay home.  They forecast another 46,000 could die by December 12 at the current rate.

Dr. Fauci spoke today from the White House.  He said the vaccines will be safe.  The Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine is becoming the third one nearly ready for distribution.  But for many it will be too little, too late; there are nearly 80,000 people currently hospitalized. 

Where is Donald Trump with all this resurgence of COVID-19?  He’s nowhere to be found.  He is doing absolutely nothing.  One Facebook post said it would have been nice if he had spent as much energy on stopping coronavirus as he has on trying to undercover voter fraud.

One thing I accomplished today was enrolling Lynn and me in new Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plans for 2021.  The government has a very useful website at medicare.gov which allows you to consider all of the plans available to you.  You enter the prescriptions you are currently taking and where you want to get these and it will present you with many options for plans.  Sorting these by price, we chose the cheapest ones which should save us lots of money next year.   I did this last year for my own prescriptions and was able to latch onto a good plan for this year but my current plan now is not the cheapest one for 2021.  We made a big mistake by not reviewing Lynn’s last year.  She had stayed with Humana for years and its premium had tripled, unnoticed by us until it was too late.  When you enroll in a Part D plan you do so before mid-December for the following year then you must stay with that plan for the full year.

November 20, 2020

Sadly, we pulled the plug on our Thanksgiving trip today.  I called Butch and informed him that we just didn’t think it was a good idea to come to Ohio.  He had made so many plans for this occasion but the facts were overwhelming to stay put.  Not only would it have been hypocritical of us to have ignored the scientific and health community, 100% of which have said to stay home this Thanksgiving, but truly we could be putting ourselves or others in jeopardy.  With the vaccine on the horizon, we elected to cancel our reservations at the Ohio University Inn.  I am disappointed, to say the least, because I’ve loved our family get-togethers over the years.  I told Butch that we were postponing, not canceling, our trip to Athens.  Once we’re all vaccinated let’s hope that we can have a big family gathering there.

This just comes at a bad time for him, for sure.  Ann has been gone for two months now.  His birthday is tomorrow and their anniversary is on Monday so a Thanksgiving family dinner would have given him something positive to think about.  Like so many other families, we’re just going to have to put our emotions on the back burner for a while and give way to science.

Today was a beautiful November day in the Shenandoah Valley with temperatures reaching the low 70’s and plenty of sunshine.  Lynn and I managed to get in a walk this afternoon; she earlier had walked with her friend Pat.  I did something I’ve never before done this early in the year—put our Christmas lights on the outside bushes.  The weather was so good that it made sense to do it now instead of waiting on cold weather to get here.

I also spend some time at Central this morning and got some good work done on QuickBooks.  Then I came home and had another treat—Lynn cut my hair.  We had borrowed the Gutshall’s clippers.  Afterwards I loaded up our trash in the truck and we took their clippers back as we picked up their garbage.  Lynn went with me; this gave us a chance to check on Gus, Freddie, and Betsy, who were doing fine by themselves.

Today is Friday which meant tonight’s supper was our new-tradition hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  They were delicious, as usual.  For dessert, I had some tasty apple turnovers that Cheryl Kent had given to Lynn this morning.  I am so lucky!

Lynn unpacked her new Cricut machine today and has already put it to good use.  She did some craft work for Cheryl Kent.  The machine is a neat invention; you design your project on the iMac which connects to the Cricut which then cuts the material in the design you’ve created.  It’s like miniature robotics.

We got several more sessions of Emily in Paris viewed last night and may finish it tonight.  I’d give it a B rating; not the best but not the worst show we’ve seen this long pandemic season.

ABC reported that there were 186,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.  Half of all states in the US are reporting medical staff shortages. 

On the positive side, Pfizer submitted its request to the FDA for emergency use authorization but the FDA isn’t set to meet until December 10.  Why do they have to wait so long?  Make no sense to me.  The US has stockpiled 40 million vials of Pfizer’s vaccine ready to be shipped out once the authorization is given. 

Georgia certified its election results today, making it official that Biden is the winner.  Yet Trump again today told the press he had won the election.  Trump even invited Republican leaders of the Michigan legislature to meet with him, hoping that he could somehow get the Michigan voter results thrown out and have the Republican legislature appoint its electors.  The man is crazy!

The Central UMC Food Pantry has lately been handing out much more food than previously.  This coming Monday, for example, three of us will be picking up food in pickup trucks.  Prior to the pandemic, one truck was all that was necessary.  The load this week is around 2,500 pounds.  But the number of people who now rely on the Food Pantry has shot up a lot recently.  Before last month, only once per week was food distributed, on Wednesdays.  Now it is handed out on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 20       Infected                   Died

World               57,875,958           1,376,624

US                     12,261,458              260,187

Virginia               213,313                  3,912

Augusta County          985                       11

The worldometers.info site reports that the US had over 212,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  That’s even higher than what ABC news said.  There were over 2,000 new deaths in the US, too.  Virginia had more than 2,500 new cases.  Is it any wonder that we’re staying home at Thanksgiving? 

November 21, 2020

Today is Butch’s 73rd birthday.  Happy Birthday, brother.  I called him this afternoon and apologized again for bailing on his Thanksgiving plans.  Sure hope we can visit him en masse this spring.

I set another timing record today.  Never before have I gotten down our Christmas decorations this early in the year.  But the weather was superb again today and it was much easier to get them down without battling a cold garage.  Truth be told, I carried down all the Christmas wrapping paper, bows, tissue paper, tree decorations, tree stand, outside tree that Jim made from a wooden pallet, stockings, stocking holders, Christmas cards, and a few other incidentals—about twenty boxes.  These twenty boxes represent approximately 25% of the number of boxes of Christmas decorations that reside above our garage. 

This year Christmas will be so different…no family party (which would have involved at least ten more of the boxes), little inside decorations since no one will be visiting us during the season, and maybe not even an opportunity for family to open presents around the tree.  For most of the season, it will just be Lynn and me.  We’ll see no Christmas shows at the Barter Theatre.  Probably the only Christmas shows we’ll see will be Hallmark TV shows. 

Thanks goodness Lynn and I get along well.  I can’t imagine how tough it would be to have to live through this pandemic with your main daily contact not being someone you care deeply about.  I know there are plenty of people who are in this situation and I feel for them.

Lynn and I are best friends, for sure.  Today she wanted to go to three different Dollar Tree stores and Michael’s in Waynesboro.  I volunteered to be her chauffer.  Like a good chauffer, I stayed in the car the entire time.  I had a marvelous time.

When we got back we took a walk in the neighborhood.  It would have been sinful to have not taken advantage of this beautiful weather.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a good bit colder.

She worked with her new Cricut machine today and turned out two items that look very professionally done.  Two of her former colleagues at Fort Defiance High School lost their spouses during this past year and the retired teacher group of which she is part wanted to provide a basket of presents for each of them.  She made a mug for one with the FDHS Indian emblem on it and a lettered a large bucket for the other one, a former coach.  Lynn is so talented!

After dinner tonight we decided to enjoy the good weather by going to Smiley’s.  As always, the ice cream was great.

I’m not sure what entertainment Lynn and I will find on Netflix tonight; we finished the Emily in Paris season last night. 

Life is just not very exciting in this COVID-19 era.  I play a LOT of Whirly Word, Sudoku, and Solitaire.  Boy, I will be glad when we can go out to eat again, travel wherever we want to, have friends and family over, go to movies and shows, yell at football games, and watch our grandchildren play sports.  All of that has been missing from our lives for over nine months.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 21       Infected                   Died

World               58,466,183           1,385,708

US                     12,437,869              261,751

Virginia               215,679                  3,938

Augusta County       1,018                       11

Augusta County has 39 currently hospitalized with COVID-19.  In the past 24 hours, 33 more local residents have been diagnosed with it, putting the total over 1,000.  Virginia had over 2,300 new cases in the past 24 hours with 26 new deaths.

November 22, 2020

I discovered something interesting this morning—I no longer have a “worry window.”  I’ll bet you there are lots of Dads who have a worry window—the window from which you can look down the road to see when your teenagers are coming home when they’re out.  My “worry window” was always the one in the living room which faced toward Fort Defiance High School.  From it, I spent many a time looking down the road while waiting on one of the kids (or even Lynn on a snowy evening) to return home after an evening out.  From that window I could see almost a mile and would follow all approaching headlights hoping the next one would be one of our cars. 

How did I lose that window?  Well, I didn’t, I just lost the view.  A tree which separates our property from neighbor Danny Link’s has grown much higher and now its branches block the view.  Plus, Danny built a large storage building which further blocks that view.  It had been years since I went to that window intending to see if a car was approaching.  I can still do this from the kitchen; I just hadn’t noticed that my view from the “worry window” was no longer available.

I went there hoping to see the newspaper man this morning.  Last week I noticed that he approached from the FDHS area.  Today Lynn wanted our newspaper and it hadn’t arrived.  I went outside to the box four times with no luck so I thought I’d return to the window to see all approaching cars.

It would have been a futile effort anyway; the paper never did come.  We used to get three newspapers each day:  the Staunton News Leader, the Waynesboro News Virginian , and the Harrisonburg Daily News Record.  The Staunton paper had all the local news in it.  The Waynesboro paper had the best coverage of high school athletics and the DNR had the best coverage of the Rockingham County School system where Lynn and I both worked.  Over time we dropped the Waynesboro paper then the News Leader tripled its price, was purchased by an out-of-town firm and doesn’t even get printed in Staunton any more.  Plus, it became such a small paper that you could read it in two minutes.  So we dropped it though we kept the Sunday only paper plus online access.  We kept the Sunday paper because we kept the DNR subscription because it didn’t have a big price increase but it is a Monday – Saturday paper.  Plus, this year we were informed that no longer would it be delivered in the morning but instead would be mailed to us with same day service.  So we do get the paper but not until early afternoon.  From three papers delivered to us each day we now get only one which is delivered via US mail except for Sundays when we are supposed to get a Sunday Staunton paper.  Not today!

Today was another boring Sunday.  I did my usual playing piano for Sunday School via Zoom.  And we did have a little fun when Jim, Faron, and Coen made a Facetime call to us this morning.

Lynn and I did manage a short walk this afternoon.  The weather was in the 50’s, not as nice as it has been but at least it was dry and not too windy.  Interestingly, as we headed out I noticed the Gutshall’s car at Don Link’s former house.  Don’s daughter Deborah Sheffer had told us they were going to put his house on the market and we told them Ann and Josh would probably want to have a look at it.  It turns out that they liked the house fine though I’m not sure if they will make an offer on it or not.  It is not ready for the market yet.

The news is unchanged on the coronavirus front.  Cases are up in all 50 states.  Here are the numbers:

November 22       Infected                   Died

World               58,965,650           1,393,190

US                     12,584,501              262,691

Virginia               217,796                  3,938

Augusta County       1,036                       11

The FDA did approve regeneron, the drug that Donald Trump took, for emergency authorization today.  And reports are that Pfizer will be able to treat patients on December 11, given approval of their vaccine by the FDA on December 10.

Today a Pennsylvania judge tossed out a case where the Trump’s lawyers tried to invalidate the votes of millions of Pennsylvania voters.  The judge also blistered the attorneys for bringing a baseless case to the court.  CNN said this was essentially the last major case seeking to throw out or block enough votes that could swing a key state in Trump’s favor, and the judge’s decision on Saturday is at least the 30th loss or withdrawal of a case from the Trump campaign and its allies since Election Day. There have only been two wins in court for Republicans, about very small numbers of votes.

November 23, 2020

COVID-19 hit a little closer home today.  The Jimenez family is one that Lynn has been close to for years.  She tutored Nathan and Emily as part of the Migrant Education Program several years ago.  Then she got to know their parents, Elizabeth and Gilberto.  We have been somewhat surrogate grandparents to Emily and Nathan for the past couple of years; they have been to our house often.  Emily is the same age as Betsy so the two of them have been friends.  Today Elizabeth left a message on Lynn’s phone that her husband Gilberto had been diagnosed with coronavirus and was in the UVA hospital.  She told Lynn that he initially tested negative several days ago but his symptoms kept getting worse so today she took him to be re-tested and it came back positive.  The doctors told her they would like to keep him at UVA for a few days and are giving him oxygen now.  He is a young, fit man around 40 years old so I hope he’ll make a full and speedy recovery.

Today was another CUMC day for me as I did multiple jobs associated with the church.  First, I counted and made the weekly bank deposit.  Sam Richardson and I always do the 3rd and 4th Sunday counts each month.  Actually, this month we’ll do the 5th Sunday count as well.  When that was over my duties returned to being bookkeeper/teacher as I helped Savannah record the deposit in QuickBooks and write one check, also.  I also set up the payroll for November 30.  Then I returned home for lunch before heading to Verona to be one of three pickup truck drivers to haul the CUMC Food Pantry’s order to church and help unload it.

My CUMC work wasn’t over; I got e-mail notice that GoDaddy had started the progress of migrating the Church’s website to a new server as I had ordered ten days ago.  There were some things I was supposed to do during this process which I didn’t understand so I called their tech support, which has always been helpful.  The guy I talked with was very polite and said it would take about an hour to 90 minutes for them to shut down the old service which had to be done before they could start it on the new server.  The files had all been copied so he told me to call back after an hour or so.  In the meantime, he told me I could tell if the shut-down process on the old server was done by seeing if I could rename the server to its original name, centralumcstaunton.org from the new name GoDaddy had temporarily given it, newcentralumcstaunton.org.  Well, for four hours I unsuccessfully tried to do this renaming task.  I called tech support again and this time I was told it might take 24 hours for the process to complete.  Once the renaming has taken place there were several more steps to be done in this migration which tech support was supposed to help with.  In the meantime, our website is down.

ABC news reported tonight that the General Services Administration has informed the Biden camp that he has been determined to be the apparent winner of the election.  The GSA’s head, a Trump political appointee, had previously blocked this process from starting.  Hopefully, this will signal the end to the Trump presidency.  His lawyers have now lost or vacated 30 court cases where they tried to claim voter fraud.  He’s toast!  But has he conceded?  Of course not.  What has he done—played golf six times since the election.  He has ignored the pandemic and everything else except his hopeless claims of voter fraud. 

The Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine has become the third promising one near ready for distribution.  It has been shown to be up to 90% effective and is cheap, easy to manufacture.  It doesn’t need to be stored in special environments. 

The Staunton Newsleader reported that the COVID-19 positivity rate for Augusta County was more than twice the state average.  The County rate was 20% compared to the state rate of 8.1%.  In other words, one out of every five county residents who tested had a positive test.

Here are today’s statistics:

November 23       Infected                   Died

World               59,470,584           1,401,380

US                     12,752,174              263,578

Virginia               221,038                  3,942

Augusta County       1,059                       11

Virginia’s Department of Health reported that the reason they reported more than 3,000 new cases today was due to a catch-up of some data that hadn’t been entered over the weekend.

It has been a while since I printed a reminder of how this virus has spread by referring back to the statistics when I started this on April 20:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                     8,990                     300

Augusta County22                         0

Isn’t that eye-opening?  Augusta County now has 50 times as many infected as it did seven months ago.

I wrote on that first day that I was like a reporter writing about a baseball game that had already begun but that the issue was that I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  I’m hoping that we’re in the 7th or 8th inning now with vaccines about to be released.  It will still take months before enough people can get vaccinated to really cause this pandemic to be under control.  We’re no where near controlling it today.

I can understand why some old people move to Florida.  I never liked the cold but now I particularly despise it.  I just hate the feeling of being chilly.  Even though it wasn’t unbearably cold outside tonight (around 40o and dropping), I sat in the kitchen in front of our gas insert with the flame roaring behind me.  I haven’t turned the oil furnace on yet; we’re still relying 100% upon our heat pump to heat the house.  It still gets the house to 70o but hot air heat just doesn’t feel as warm as hot water heat does.  I love having Lynn’s 98.6o next to me when I get in bed.

November 24, 2020

I forgot to write yesterday about a neat experience I had.  When I taught at Bridgewater College, I posted approximately 50 YouTube screencasts so my students could review how to do certain things both in the fields of educational technology and math education.  When I retired, I had no reason to take them down so they are now linked from my website.  Indeed, many are still viewed but not just by Bridgewater College students.  One of them has had over 180,000 views.  It shows teachers who grade using Excel how to have the letter grade (A, B, C, etc.) automatically assigned by Excel from the numeric average.  Two days ago I had a comment on that website thanking me for posting this.  But later the same person said he had a problem he couldn’t figure out related to it.  I saw the comment and asked him to e-mail me his spreadsheet so I could see what the issue was.  He did and I discovered that this teacher wanted to convert both ways—numeric averages to letter grades but also letter grades to numeric values.  He wanted to assign A+ the value 5, A the value 4, B to 3, etc.  I figured out the solution to his issue and sent it back to him and received his thanks again.  It turns out that he’s a teacher in India!  That made my day.

The US had its fourteenth straight day of record hospitalizations due to COVID-19 yesterday.  ABC news said tonight that there have been 170,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  There are more than 85,000 people currently hospitalized.  Some people waited as much as five hours for test results. 

Apparently, a good percentage of Americans aren’t following the unilateral recommendations to not have a large family Thanksgiving gathering.  The airports had the busiest day today since the pandemic started.  So many families are going to have a large family dinner which could easily develop into a super-spreader event.  Not the Hill family—our Thanksgiving has been canceled and our annual Christmas party isn’t even being planned this year.

I spent about six hours outside today with the high temperature of the day 41o.  The four of us from Central who put the roof on the storage shed for the sister-in-law of our Church custodian were back at it today, putting a roof on her second shed.  We started at 10:00 and finished at 2:00.  I was well dressed for the cold but frankly I never was uncomfortable.  The sun was shining and there was no wind.  Plus, I’ve discovered that the face mask (which I wore 100% of the time) helps keep your face warm.  The work was tiring, though, and I’m feeling sore tonight. 

After working on that re-roofing project, I came home and called GoDaddy again because our website migration was still not finished.  It supposedly was finished near 3:00 today after a long phone call with their tech support.  Yet I spent another hour on the phone tonight with a second the support person because our website still isn’t being presented properly by GoDaddy and the backups they are supposed to be making for us are failing.  I was told that our issue had been assigned a high priority and transferred to a security team to resolve.  Supposedly I’ll get an e-mail later tonight that they’ve fixed all the issues.  Based on my experience this afternoon and evening, I’ll be surprised if that happens.

Freddie rode the bus here as he always does on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  He loves to play outside so I stayed outside with him for what turned out to be a lot longer than I had planned.  Ann was very, very late coming home from Broadway High School; Josh ended up picking up Freddie up around 5:30.  Freddie spent the first two hours here outside with me.  We played soccer and football.  I am very sore from our touch football game!  He played Wii in the basement the last half hour.

My weight is up about five pounds since mid-pandemic.  At dinner time I am just so hungry I can’t say no.  Plus, I haven’t walked much compared to what we did mid-sunmer.

Here are today’s high numbers:

November 24       Infected                   Died

World               60,073,345           1,413,686

US                     12,945,905              265,828

Virginia               223,582                  3,979

Augusta County       1,072                       11

Virginia’s cases increased by 2,500 since yesterday; there were 37 new deaths.  Scary!

November 25, 2020

The CUMC website is finally back up and working well now.  The tech support at GoDaddy fixed the issues we had the previous two days so now it is visible to everyone and being both protected from viruses and hackers and backed up regularly by GoDaddy.

Lynn and I were designated shoppers today.  We went to Costco during senior hour and bought items for ourselves, Ann, Kay Carter, and Cheryl Wright.  We were successful in getting everything on our list.  We stopped by the house then went to Staunton, stopping at Cheryl Kent’s, Kay Carter’s, and Kroger.  So we spent all morning shopping but got everything we intended.

We walked in the afternoon.  The temperature was in the 50’s but there was a cold wind.  It felt good to walk, though.

Both of us have been very well during this pandemic.  Of course, we’re rarely around other people now so we haven’t caught colds, stomach bugs, the flu, etc.  I hope this continues until we can get vaccinated.  I can make it through a cold or stomach bug but I’m not so sure about COVID-19.

I’m back to worrying about one of our electrical circuits—the one that connects to the outside outlet where our Christmas lights are plugged in.  Tonight, the circuit was down just like it did before Butch came and replaced the breaker on that circuit.  Actually, only part of the circuit goes down—the outside outlet, porch, and outside light.  There’s a kitchen outlet on the same circuit but it doesn’t lose power.  There isn’t a short on that circuit; at least the breaker doesn’t trip.  It’s as if a connecting wire somewhere on that circuit loses connection.  Tonight I flipped the breaker on and off several times and power was restored.  Then it went out again and is still out.  Very strange.

The weather forecast for tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, is excellent with highs in the upper 60’s in the afternoon.  So Ann’s family is coming over but we’re having our Thanksgiving dinner outside. 

Today was the 15th consecutive day of record hospitalizations due to COVID-19.  Despite the pleadings of Dr. Fauci and many other medical experts, America seems hell bent on having big Thanksgiving celebrations.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 25       Infected                   Died

World               60,715,719           1,426,734

US                     13,137,962              268,219

Virginia               226,300                  4,008

Augusta County       1,091                       11

Virginia has 2,800 new cases in just one day and 29 more deaths.  I wish the news were better.  It just gets worse every night I write this.  By the time the vaccines get here most everyone will have had this thing….

November 26, 2020

Today is Thanksgiving Day.  We’re thankful for our health, wealth, and family but wish we could gather together.  Two years ago, we were in Altoona with fifteen of us doing a Turkey Trot in 4o weather.  Today it was almost 70o here in Virginia.

Lynn and I were up before 6:00.  Actually, I was watching a basketball game that had been recorded as WVU won its first game of the season against South Dakota State but we both got up, ate breakfast, and were at Dollar General in Verona at 7:00 AM when they opened. DG had its family pajamas on sale and we needed some for Jim’s boys.  She had bought some for them earlier at Kohl’s but they were too big.  We were successful with our early morning outing.

Before 7:30 AM she had the turkey cooking and I had the potatoes peeled for the mashed potatoes.  We didn’t eat until 3:00 so we had all day basically to get the food ready that we were preparing:  turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, and green beans.  Ann brought sweet potatoes and dressing.  We had apple pie which had been provided for us by our Edward Jones consultant, Justin Rexrode.  Our table looked good with the flower arrangement Butch had sent.

The day was so beautiful!  Lynn and I took a 2.8 mile walk on Leaport Road and to Mount Pisgah and back.  Lynn also watched a Hallmark movie this morning, which goes to show how pressure-less this Thanksgiving was.  Everything was ready hours before Ann’s family got here so we weren’t rushed at all.

It was a superb Thanksgiving dinner.  Everything tasted great and the weather was so nice outside.  Shortly afterwards we had a family Zoom with everyone joining in.  Although we couldn’t be together in person, it was nice to be able to get together via Zoom.

I got to watch a second WVU basketball game today—they played VCU in the second round of the tournament they played in at South Dakota.  The Mountaineers are currently ranked 15th in the country and are 2-0 after the win today over VCU.  They still can’t shoot well but they frequently rebound their own misses until they finally get it in.  They aren’t easy to watch because of their poor shooting but they clearly have a lot of defensive and rebounding talent on the team.  They are the type of team that can beat anyone on a good shooting night but lose to a nobody on the next.

With today being Thanksgiving, I am feeling very thankful this evening for many things.  Here are four F words I’m thankful for:  Food—I know that many people are hungry tonight.  Food Banks are busier than ever.  Yet I have been blessed with great food, especially today.  Fortune—I am lucky to have all the money I need.  Lynn and I are at a time of our lives when it appears that we have enough money to last us the rest of our days unless something really bizarre happens.  Faith—I know that what I have wasn’t earned.  I have been graced by God with more than I deserve.  Family—the highlight of my life.  I am most thankful for each and every member of our family.  I am especially thankful for Lynn who has put up with me for over 44 years.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

November 26       Infected                   Died

World               61,281,235           1,436,844

US                     13,245,589              269,520

Virginia               228,900                  4,029

Augusta County       1,142                       11

Another 2,600 new cases for Virginia in the past 24 hours.  I was hoping to see this increasing trend stop sometime soon but it doesn’t appear to be doing that.

November 27, 2020

Today was Black Friday but this year’s is quite a bit different from previous ones, of course.  Nonetheless, Lynn and I were out bright and early.  Our first stop was at Lowe’s where Lynn bought poinsettias as she always does on Black Friday.  Then we went to Walmart followed by Dollar Tree in Staunton.  We were also looking for Christmas trees and had decided that we wouldn’t be going to a tree farm this year.  We had hoped to get a tree at Lowe’s but they looked poor there, especially for $50 or more.

Our next stop was at Kroger and, surprisingly, we liked their Christmas trees and they were only $35 so we bought ours.  We were scheduled to meet Ann and Betsy at Lowe’s at 9:00 to get the Gutshall tree but we called her and suggested they meet us at Kroger which they did.  They were also able to find a nice $35 tree so, with both in the truck, we headed home, stopping to drop the Gutshall’s off first.

Once we got back home, I unloaded our tree while Lynn unloaded poinsettias.  I managed to get ours in our normal tree stand and in water.  It wasn’t easy because our stand has at least one of three screws stripped.  Lynn wanted to go back out so this time we went to Dollar General in Weyers Cave where she returned some items then to her friend Terri Sumey’s house who had left some boards which Lynn plans to turn into porch signs.

After the busy morning, I decided to try to put lights on our tree.  This is a job I do every year and one that, quite frankly, I hate to do.  I’m never able to get them on the way Lynn likes them despite taking hours to do so.  And the tree in the wobbly stand is always an issue.  This year was no exception.  I ended up going back above the garage and found a second tree stand we had from years ago when we had two trees.  I swapped it for the one we’ve used for years and it actually worked OK.  Two hours later, I had lights on the tree.  I admit that I grumbled the entire 120 minutes.

Part of my grumbling was because I knew I was missing the WVU – Western Kentucky basketball game, the finals of the South Dakota tournament.  But I had set our DVR to record it so when I was finally able to get to it I could fast forward through the time outs and halftime.  WVU got behind by ten points early in the second half but rallied to take the championship, 68 – 62.  It is always good to see the Mountaineers win but, as I said yesterday, this team is hard to watch because they shoot so poorly.  Today they shot just well enough to pull out the victory.

Lynn had scheduled a family meeting with her sisters, Kay and Jane, and her brother, Bill, this afternoon.  They had agreed to meet so they could divide up some of the items that Bill found in their parents’ safety deposit box including numerous old silver dollars.  I did not join in on the meeting since it was a Hanger family discussion.

Today was Friday so that means that dinner tonight consisted of a trip to the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike to get hamburgers.  After eating turkey for the past five days or so I was fine with having a burger and fries. However, our plans got foiled when we got there and it was closed. So we headed for Staunton and had take-out hamburgers from The Depot. Yum!

Yesterday on Thanksgiving Day I had called my sister to see how she was doing.  She informed me that she had symptoms of a bad cold and was very lethargic.  Furthermore, she said that she had been close to a friend of hers who now has tested positive for COVID-19.  Mary K. is going to be tested tomorrow.  She was in good spirits but I can’t see how she wouldn’t be worried.  I am for her.  She won’t get the results back until 48 hours or so after her test.  She did cancel all of her Thanksgiving Day plans which had previously included working at a soup kitchen and having dinner with her daughter Kit.

I didn’t watch the news today so I don’t know what’s going on in the COVID world but at least here are today’s statistics:

November 27       Infected                   Died

World               61,953,473           1,448,163

US                     13,447,868              271,008

Virginia               230,444                  4,044

Augusta County       1,151                       11

Lynn has been in touch with the Jiminez family today about Gilberto’s condition.  Apparently it took a turn for the worse today and he is now on some kind of breathing tube at UVA, perhaps a ventilator.  Our prayers are with him, Elizabeth, Emily, and Nathan.

November 28, 2020

We started the day with a trip to Harrisonburg for Costco’s early opening at 9:00 followed by a visit to the drive-through at Wells Fargo Bank to deposit some of the money Lynn had gotten from her parents’ safe deposit box.

The news today from the Jiminez family wasn’t any better—today Elizabeth told us she was feeling poorly and would likely be tested herself for COVID-19.  Of course, she, Emily, and Nathan are quarantined now since Gilberto was tested positive.  Elizabeth told us that Gilberto was on a ventilator at UVA now—doesn’t sound good.  To help them out, we took several things to them this morning:  a chicken from Costco, trash bags and shampoo she told us they needed, some cookies and cinnamon rolls also from Costco, and a box of crafts Lynn put together for the kids.   We didn’t go anywhere near any of the family—we left the items we bought on the top of one of their cars and talked to Elizabeth from 25 or more feet away.  Tonight Elizabeth texted Lynn that she had found out that Gilberto was a little better today but would likely have the ventilator for the next week.

Today was trash day, as usual, so that’s where I went after we got back from Elizabeth’s house.  The Mount Sidney dump was a busy hub of activity with people lined back onto Route 11 to get in. 

I did a bunch of small chores today.  I cut some boards for Lynn and then cut some branches from a pine tree on the lower edge of our property so she could make some swags for our windows.  Then, with her help, I took the swings off the Pergola and transported them to the shed where we hung them from the rafters for the winter. 

I also put out more external Christmas decorations and cleaned the leaves off the front yard with my mower.  It was a busy but productive day.  Lynn and I also got in a two mile walk.

For dinner, Lynn made a turkey pot pie.  We’ve turkey in about every way it can be fixed over the past week!  Her pot pie was delicious.

I’ve been writing this blog for 222 days now.  The document in Word is now 341 pages long. 

Here are today’s coronavirus details:

November 28       Infected                   Died

World               62,542,335           1,457,366

US                     13,605,047              272,247

Virginia               233,617                  4,054

Augusta County       1,161                       11

Wow, Virginia’s daily number infected just went up by over 3,000.  That’s depressing.  At least Augusta County’s numbers didn’t increase dramatically.  On NBC news tonight, it was pointed out that there have been one million new cases each week lately.  Many municipalities have reinstated tougher guidelines. 

Interestingly, in anticipation of FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine, United Airlines has already started distributing Pfizer’s vaccine, embedded in dry ice, to various locations.  The FDA hasn’t announced yet who will get the vaccine first.

November 29, 2020

Today was Sunday but Pastor Won was on vacation so we didn’t have Zoom Sunday School class.  That meant I was off the hook for playing a hymn on my piano. 

We spent the morning completing our home Christmas decorations.  We put up our stockings, decorated the tree, and put swags on the window sills.  The house looks quite nice and will likely stay decorated until well into January.

Lynn met Cheryl Kent at Central in the early afternoon and picked up some food from the CUMC Food Pantry for her Waynesboro student, Juan Pablo.  While she did that, I created a birthday card for Freddie whose seventh birthday is on December 10.

I wasn’t sure I’d be doing in the afternoon when the phone rang.  It was Jim who suggested that today would work for him to meet us halfway between here and Roanoke to swap trucks.  I had offered to him that he could use my Toyota Tacoma for a while.  Of course, his truck was the one I gave him when I bought the Tacoma, a 1996 Ford Ranger.  Jim needs a dependable truck for some of the outside work he does.  The Tacoma has 4-wheel drive; the Ranger does not.  When I worked at Bridgewater College I bought the Tacoma.  I needed the 4-wheel drive for those days where Bridgewater had class but the weather was snowy.  Now that I’m retired, I only use the truck to go to the dump and do pickups for the Food Pantry.  So it made sense for us to trade trucks for a while.

Neither truck is new.  The Tacoma has nearly 157,000 miles on it.  The Ranger has more than 187,000 but now its odometer is broken so I don’t know how many miles are on it.  When he drove up, I chided him because the inspection expires on December 31.  He said not to worry because in 2021 the truck would be 25 years old which qualifies it for an Antique license plate which doesn’t require inspection!

We drove home entirely on US 11 because Interstate 81 was very, very busy with Thanksgiving traffic.  Driving south to meet him, we saw several places where the northbound lane was backed up.  So, we drove to Staunton on US 11 where we had the road to ourselves.  The truck ran like new. 

Lynn’s latest project is making bow ties from old, wide ties.  She made them for each grandson and great-grandson from her father’s old ties.  Now she was given some of Josh’s grandfather’s old ties so she is making them into bow ties for the males in Josh’s family.  Lynn is so talented!

I read an ABC news article which said the counts we see about coronavirus infections may take a dip over the next week but this is not because the virus is infecting fewer people.  The number of tests prior to Thanksgiving were much higher than usual as many people sought to be tested before they traveled.  These people won’t be testing this coming week which means fewer tests.  Fewer tests means fewer positives, thus, cases reported.  Here are the numbers for today:

November 29       Infected                   Died

World               63,048,631           1,464,743

US                     13,743,489              273,053

Virginia               235,942                  4,058

Augusta County       1,166                       11

For sure, the above statistics are cause for questions.  Virginia had over 2,300 new cases but only 4 new deaths.  Augusta County had only five new cases.  I hope this is true but I’m doubtful that the statistics are accurate.

Tomorrow is the end of November.  If I were to look back through my November posts, I’d see two themes repeated over and over.  First, of course, COVID-19 continues to spread like wildfire just as several vaccines are being released.  For over 270,000 Americans, they will be too little, too late.  The other is Trump’s refusal to accept the reality that he was thumped in the election.  Even today in an interview he kept saying, without proof, that there was widespread fraud in the election and even suggested his own FBI and Justice Department were in on the fraud.  His lawyers have now lost over 30 cases related to the election.  Today’s news was that the partial recount in Wisconsin was completed, at a cost of $3 million dollars to Trump’s backers, and the result was 87 more votes for Biden!  Yeah!

Lynn and I have been watching the Netflix series Virgin River again.  We watched the first season of the series in September and early October.  Season 2 has now been released and we’ve watched three episodes each of the past two nights. 

November 30, 2020

This was a wet and cold Monday.  It dried up in the afternoon but remained cool.  Lynn and I bundled up and took our two mile walk between 4:00 and 5:00 but it was very chilly.  The high tomorrow is supposed to be 39o.  Brrr!  So far this winter I’ve relied entirely on our heat pump to heat the house but I’m thinking of turning on the boiler when I go to bed tonight.

I spent the morning at Central counting the weekly deposit and double checking as Savannah entered it into QuickBooks.  So far all I’ve had her do is the weekly deposits and a few checks.  But with the end of the month comes some of the tougher tasks such as bank and credit card reconciliations.  So I’ll probably be back there for a while tomorrow.

This afternoon I tagged along as Lynn did some shopping in Waynesboro then went to meet her student, Juan Pablo.  He has been a real pain in the rear, not going to school or doing his assignments, not answering her calls or texts, but he finally did answer her today and met us at his house.  Lynn had brought a box of food from the Central Food Pantry.

“Anyone in the US who wants a vaccine will have one by June” says one of the members of Operation Warp Speed, the President’s task force on coronavirus.  Today Moderna applied to the FDA for its emergency authorization so its vaccine can be immediately distributed.  It is touted as being 94% effective and 100% effective against severe cases of the virus.  It could be out to Americans by December 17; Pfizer’s is set to go by December 10 if its emergency authorization is given.

There were 4.1 million new COVID-19 cases in November, around 1/3 of the total since the pandemic began.  Today there are almost 100,000 Americans hospitalized with it.  Included in that number is our friend Gilberto Jiminez.  Elizabeth said she was told today that he was doing some better, breathing on his own though he is still intubated with a breathing tube.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 30       Infected                   Died

World               63,549,184           1,473,123

US                     13,900,272              274,143

Virginia               237,835                  4,062

Augusta County       1,177                       11

This is such a familiar story:  nearly 2,000 new cases in Virginia though only 4 more deaths.  The US number increased by more than 150,000 new cases and over 1,000 more deaths.  Augusta County has 43 people currently hospitalized according to the Virginia Department of Health site.  The Staunton Newsleader reported that Staunton alone had 221 new cases reported today.  Staunton’s November total was 1,182 so that means 1/5th of the monthly total came today.  I guess it is somewhat good news that Augusta County’s percentage of those who have died from COVID-19 is less than 1% of those who have been infected.

Tonight, Lynn and I will likely watch the final two episodes of season two of Virgin River.  This show has many subplots involving many people in the small town it is set in.  The scenery is beautiful.  Supposedly the town of Virgin River is a northern California town but I read that the show is shot in Vancouver and British Columbia.  There is no real town named Virgin River.  I did see one bridge scene that must have been filmed just outside of Vancouver because Lynn and I visited that bridge when we were there.  It is the Capilano Suspension Bridge.  It is very high and scenic.  I walked over the bridge and back but Lynn only walked a short way onto the bridge.

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.

October 21, 2020

We had almost record heat today with a high of 79o.  Tomorrow’s forecast is for more of the same.  Lynn and I managed to walk two miles again today—the third day in a row—but this is still nothing compared to what we were walking before she broke her foot.  Sometimes when we walk she feels pain in her foot so we’re not going to push it.  She has an appointment with the orthopedist on November 2.

I now have almost everything checked off my “to do” list as the temporary treasurer at Central.  I hope to get in a routine where I only have to go in for a morning or two each week.  I came home today shortly after noon.

The head of President’s “Operation Warp Speed” said that every American could be vaccinated by next June.  I wish I could make the clock move faster.

Tonight was Zoom night.  We didn’t Zoom last week since we were in West Virginia at Hawk’s Nest.  The only ones who joined in were Thomas and Georgia.  They were acting silly but it was still good to see them and chat with them.

Today is Ann and Josh’s 20th anniversary.  We got them a cake and a pie plus a card with something green in it.  I am so proud of them and their family.  We have been very blessed to have had them in our lives.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 21           Infected                   Died

World               41,458,813           1,135,636

US                       8,581,674              227,349

Virginia               168,772                  3,515

Augusta County          633                         8

The numbers of new cases and deaths in both the US and Virginia are alarmingly higher than usual.  The US had over 55,000 new cases and 1,300 deaths in the past 24 hours; Virginia had 1,000 new cases and 30 more deaths.  We’re clearly not headed in the right direction….

October 22, 2020

Today I think I was able to finally get the General Fund of Central UMC in good shape through September.  I had to re-reconcile everything again all the way back to May but this time I think all is well.  I am very pleased with this.  Things should return to normal by the end of this month, I hope.

The news tonight was so much like it has been every night for the past six months—COVID horror stories.  CNN news said that more than 1,100 new deaths were reported Wednesday — the highest daily toll in more than a month, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  The 31 states are reporting at least 10% more new Covid-19 cases this week compared to last week: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.  Virginia is reportedly holding steady.   Florida, which recently reopened many businesses to full capacity but with no mask requirements, reported its highest single-day increase of new cases in more than two months: 5,557 on Thursday. The statewide Covid-19 death toll rose to 16,470.  Oklahoma reported a record-high 1,628 new cases Thursday, the highest daily number of new cases since the pandemic began.  Ohio broke its record Wednesday and again Thursday, with more than 2,400 new infections reported. “Of the 10 highest days of new cases reported, eight have occurred in the past nine days,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.  And in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that hospitalizations were the highest they have been in three months.

The FDA officially approved remdesivir for coronavirus cases today.  The drug will be used for Covid-19 patients at least 12 years old and requiring hospitalization, Gilead said.  Remdesivir is now the first and only fully approved treatment in the U.S. for Covid-19, which has infected more than 41.3 million people worldwide and killed more than 1 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

This news blurb from ABC news is why I have chosen to not attend Central’s Sunday morning worship services:  At least two people are dead, four hospitalized and at least 68 positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed following a weeklong convocation event at a church in North Carolina.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 22           Infected                   Died

World               41,959,761           1,142,071

US                       8,654,301              228,292

Virginia               170,104                  3,524

Augusta County          638                         8

Another 1,300+ new cases in Virginia.  Another 900 more deaths in the US.  I wish I had something else to write about.

Tonight was the final debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.  I’ll post comments about it tomorrow; it starts at 9:00 and I hope to watch it in bed.  I just hope Biden can weather Trump’s bullying and emerges unscathed.  I can’t imagine that this debate would change anyone’s mind.

Lynn and I didn’t walk any today.  Her foot had been bothering her some.  We did make a trip to Smiley’s for ice cream, though.

October 23, 2020

We did stay up for the debate last night.  It was much more civil than the first one.  We still think Biden got the upper hand although I don’t really think it matters because 50 million Americans have already voted and the rest probably have their minds made up.  It was interesting today to see an article on ABC news which fact-checked the comments the two made.  No surprise, the number of fallacious claims from Trump’s mouth were about triple those from Biden’s. 

We had a conversation in the car today about Trump supporters.  I believe that the only people who could possibly be in his camp are mutimillionaires who don’t want their taxes raised, outright racists because they like the hate that Trump spews, or avowed anti-abortionists.  Why in the world would others support him?  Perhaps it is just plain ignorance—a Facebook article tonight reported that 27% of those surveyed responded NO to the question “should American youth be taught Arabic numbers in school?”  Of course, Arabic numbers are the very numbers that all of us use.  So 27% must think that their kids should not be taught about numbers. 

On the other hand, if you’re a Biden supporter you believe in healthcare for everyone, treating immigrants with respect, a woman’s right to choose, taxing the rich instead of the middle class, and taking care of the environment.  Besides the rich, bigots, and pro-birthers who wouldn’t want these things?  I use the term pro-birthers instead of pro-lifers because they focus only on having the fetus making it to birth, not caring for the children as they age.  The same people who fight against abortion put up with kids being dumped in cages.  This week we learned that the parents of 500 of the kids separated from them at the border now can’t be located.  What inhumanity!

Lynn had another all-day Zoom training session about trauma sponsored by Albemarle County Schools.  Despite staring at the computer all day she enjoyed the training, she said.  Plus, she is getting paid for it.

While she was doing her Zoom training, I spent the morning at Central again.  Today I got the last of my “to do” items checked off—reconciling the Pastor’s credit card.  I also fixed a few minor items on the report called Statement of Financial Position which I’ll be sharing with other members of the Finance Committee when we meet via Zoom on Tuesday evening.  This report is something that I am supposed to share with them each month but I have deliberately not shared the last several months’ reports because I knew they were laden with errors.  This one should be correct.

I am comfortable with most QuickBooks tasks now:  check writing, deposits, credit cards, bank reconciliations, investment income, and financial statements.  I am still shaky with payroll and taxes. 

Jim texted us that he is going to come tomorrow morning.  He has made two new wooden seats for our seesaw.  His boys will probably be the two most likely to use it.  He’s going to bring them and we’ll install them in the morning; the old seats rotted out.

After her trauma training, Lynn went to visit with her mother again today.  Mrs. Hanger sleeps 95% of the time though she did exchange a few sentences with Lynn today.  She eats very little.

I also exchanged a lot of texts with my brother today.  He is excited about making plans for Thanksgiving which he is hosting in Athens.  He has signed a contract with Ohio University Inn for our family dinner to be prepared.  We’ll be staying there, too.  So far, twelve of us are going:  the Gutshalls, the Foys, Lynn, and me. 

My sister was on the text as well.  She said “I sat in the booth next to a friend whose husband tested positive two days later. She subsequently also got Covid. I have quarantined the last two weeks and I am fine.! Whew!”  That’s scary.  She said her friends are doing OK now.

I didn’t say this to her but I think I have in elsewhere in this blog.  Sometimes I feel like we’re hiding behind a tree from COVID-19 and it keeps getting closer and closer to us.  I’m sure Mary Katherine feels that way.

We were scheduled to have a Covenant Group meeting this coming Sunday night at the Bushman’s house.  The weather forecast is for much colder and rainy so tonight Bill sent out a note that they would like for the group to meet indoors, socially distant.  Still, I replied to him that Lynn and I wouldn’t be coming because we are avoiding all group meetings indoors.  We both go indoors at places outside of our home.  I go to Central and Lynn goes to dollar and grocery stores.  But in all cases we are not around others for more than a couple of minutes.  At Central I almost always work alone in the office.  Visitors may pass through but they never stay.  This is also why we’re not attending Sunday morning worship services.  I believe our sanctuary is large enough that we could certainly be socially distant.  Plus, Central just installed a device that treats all air circulated with ultraviolet rays.  But caution is the name of the game.

We repeated what is now a tradition today—getting hamburgers for supper from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  We always get the same—Lynn gets a jalapeño burger and I get a Philly cheesesteak burger. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 23           Infected                   Died

World               42,461,362           1,148,694

US                       8,745,336              229,280

Virginia               171,284                  3,539

Augusta County          647                         8

Wow—over 90,000 new cases in the US. Over 1,100 new cases in Virginia.  This is so repetitive. 

October 24, 2020

Jim paid us a nice visit this morning.  He came up for two reasons, to replace the seats on our seesaw and to check out/assemble a bicycle that was shipped here for Coen.  Actually he had two bikes shipped here, one from Target and another from Amazon (I believe).  He wanted the one from Amazon but it was listed as having been opened so, to be sure, he ordered one from Target.  It turns out that the Amazon bike, a Schwinn, was fine.  He assembled it and loaded them both up to take.  He’ll return the one to Target.

He had made two nice wooden seats for the seesaw.  As I wrote yesterday, the old ones had rotted and were difficult to take off.  I ended up using a hack saw to remove three of the rusted bolts and Jim used his angle grinder to get the fourth off.   Then he put his new wooden seats on and attached the foam and the covers.  They’re as good as new!

He also brought Lynn a present.  Lynn loves old hardwood handled knives like her Dad and Mom used.  We had one here for years but it eventually fell apart.  Jim used the lathe in his school’s technology section and made her a new handle for it.  It really looks great.  Lynn was thrilled.

He also rode his zero turn mower around in our yard, cutting some of the many leaves that had fallen in the past few days. 

What a good son!  We are so lucky to have him and all of our family.

I decided to use my blower to clean out our lower gutters.  When I plugged the blower into the outlet on our porch, the circuit lost power.  Strangely, the breaker didn’t flip.  This was the same circuit that we’ve had trouble with in the past.  A “friend of a friend” came a few months ago and installed a replacement breaker in the box but I’m convinced it was defective along with the outlet.  The outlet must be bad since that’s what caused this problem.  And the breaker must be bad because it didn’t flip.  I e-mailed brother Butch all about this situation and he said he would be happy to try to get it all remedied when he comes in just ten days.  We can live without that outlet (along with our exterior lights) until then, for sure.

Tonight Lynn and I went opposite directions.  She went south to visit with her mother while I headed north to grab pizza at our favorite pizza shop, Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  The pizza was delicious and her Mom was OK tonight.

ABC news had these not-good statistics today:  The U.S. reported 428,793 new cases of the coronavirus in the week of Oct. 16 to Oct. 22 — a 14.3% increase from the previous week, the memo said.  There were 5,530 deaths recorded from Oct. 16 to Oct. 22, marking a 15.1% increase in new deaths compared with the previous week, according to the memo.  The national test-positivity rate increased from 5.1% to 5.9% in week-to-week comparisons.  Across the country, 24% of hospitals have more than 80% of their ICU beds filled. That number was 17 to 18% during the summertime peak.  In Florida, new cases are up 30% among high school students compared to two weeks ago, and up 42% among young adults ages 18 to 24, the memo said.  In Kentucky, new deaths have been increasing over the last two weeks. Kentucky reported its second-highest daily fatality count on Wednesday, the memo said.

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

October 24           Infected                   Died

World               42,889,359           1,153,873

US                       8,819,813              230,010

Virginia               172,372                  3,578

Augusta County          653                         8

There were almost 75,000 new cases in the US in the last 24 hours.  Another day with more than 1,000 in Virginia.

I spent the evening watching WVU play Texas Tech in football.  Watching the Mountaineers is not easy—they came into the game 3-1 but still had played poorly at times.  Tonight was no different.  Against a 1-3 Texas Tech team they hardly looked like the favorite in the first half, falling behind 20-13.   In the second half they came back to tie the score 27-27 and had the ball ready to take the lead but then gave it away when a receiver fumbled and Texas Tech picked up the fumble and ran in it for a touchdown.  The WVU receivers are terrible this year, dropping pass after pass.  As much as I love the Mountaineers, they are hard to watch. 

October 25, 2020

We watch NBC news on Sunday mornings.  NBC reported that Friday’s number of COVID-19 cases set a US record with over 90,000 new cases and Saturday had almost 80,000.  This was the biggest 48 hour jump since the pandemic began.  They said states which were showing progress were now back in trouble.  They said by the end of February there will be over a half million deaths in the US unless mask wearing is mandated.

Today was a cold, rainy Sunday.  The only thing on either of our schedules was Sunday School this morning from 9:00 – 10:00.  After that, Lynn and I went to Staunton to do a few errands then to her Mom’s for lunch.  Her Mom was OK again today.

In the afternoon we both just some minor chores around the house.  We hung a picture over Kay’s bed upstairs that had been in her parents’ home.  It is a picture of her grandfather Blair Bowman Hanger and her great aunt, Georgie.

I worked some on the agenda for the Central Finance Committee meeting which will now be Tuesday evening at 6:00, via Zoom. 

After dinner this evening we went to the Dollar Tree store in Dayton then stopped for ice cream at Smiley’s. 

I’m nearing 300 single spaced pages in this blog.  It has been a daily habit for me for the past 188 days and though I know few, if anyone, will ever read this, it has been therapeutic for me to do it.   Today I actually found one tiny good advantage of doing it.  I was checking on my online medical records at mychart.carilionclinic.org because I wanted to have one of my prescriptions renewed but at a different pharmacy.  I’ve been using Walgreens in Verona for my prescriptions but recently found out that they are no longer a preferred pharmacy in the Medicare drug plan I have with Wellcare whereas Kroger is a preferred pharmacy this year and will be one next, too.  I stand to save several dollars by having my prescriptions filled in a preferred pharmacy.  Anyway, while I was going online to request this prescription refill, I noticed a reminder that said I should get a flu shot ASAP.  Lynn and I got our flu shots over a month ago but apparently Walgreens never told Carilion that I had mine.  So I wanted to post a note on mychart.carilionclinic.org but I also wanted to tell them when and where I got the shot.  When was that?  Well, I quickly did a search for “flu shot” on this 291 page Word document and found that we had our shots on September 17.

Lynn is already watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark TV station.  The movies are so soapy and most all have the same theme.  There’s always a small town with a Christmas festival.  There’s usually an attractive young man or woman who grew up in the town and an equally attractive member of the opposite sex who comes to town.  There are sometimes two suitors for the pretty woman, one who is a very successful businessman and the other who loves nature, Christmas, and the simple life.  Guess which one ends up with the girl?

Mask wearing has definitely improved on our area.  Lynn goes to almost as many stores now as she did pre-pandemic.  Of course, she always wears her mask and, for the most part, everyone else is doing the same when inside a store.  This is in sharp contrast to the pictures I see on television where restaurants, parties, bars, churches, political rallies, and ball games are full of people standing shoulder to shoulder with no masks.  We did pass one church this evening with what seemed like hundreds of cars in the parking lot.  There’s no way this church could have social distancing.

We don’t wear masks when we’re on our property, driving in our cars, or walking in the neighborhood.  Some people do but we don’t feel like it’s necessary in those settings.  When I’m at Central working on the finances, I am by myself in the office so I don’t wear a mask.  If anyone walks in the door (a rare event), I slip mine on to talk.

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

October 25           Infected                   Died

World               43,319,526           1,158,760

US                       8,888,056              230,497

Virginia               173,371                  3,579

Augusta County          654                         8

Five Mike Pence aides have now come down with COVID-19 yet he refuses to quarantine.  He is supposed to be the one in charge of the coronavirus task force!  Doctors on CNN news tonight blasted him for not self-quarantining.  The President continues to downplay the pandemic.  He says our high numbers are the result of all the testing that is done.  The hospitals beg to differ.  ABC news said today that the seven-day average for U.S. newly reported deaths has increased throughout the month, going from 703 on Oct. 2 to 807 on Oct. 24.  That didn’t happen because more people are getting tested.  Johns Hopkins University has fewer reported deaths than worldometers.org which I what I report each day.  But Johns Hopkins reported that there were 225,111 COVID-19 related deaths across the country as of Sunday afternoon.  By comparison, there were 291,557 American soldiers killed in battle during World War II, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  I wonder if, in the middle of World War II, what would have happened if FDR would have downplayed its significance and said that it would all just go away soon.

This time a year ago we were in Italy.  Today Italy’s leader imposed at least a month of new restrictions across the country Sunday to fight rising coronavirus infections, shutting down gyms, pools and movie theaters, putting an early curfew on cafes and restaurants and mandating that people keep wearing masks outdoors.  Italy has over a half million cases and, of course, was the first country hit hard in Europe.  There have been over 37,000 death in Italy since the start.  So sad!

South Korea has over 51,000,000 people.  As of today they have under 500 deaths.  The United States has over 328,000,000 people.  As of today we have well over 225,000 deaths.  Their people live in very crowded conditions.   Ours are spread out over 50 states.   New Zealand has around 5 million people yet only 25 deaths due to COVID-19.  Why have these countries been so successful with this virus and we have been so unsuccessful?  The answer is simple:  leadership.

October 26, 2020

Lynn has been having a tough time with the student she tutors in Waynesboro with the Migrant Education Program.  He is a high school junior who lives with his father.  Her job is basically to help him with his schoolwork but the issue is he hasn’t been attending school.  In Waynesboro all high school is currently virtual which means he is supposed to log in and “attend” class via Zoom or something similar but he has not been doing so.  His teachers are in contact with Lynn so she is well aware of this.  He doesn’t answer the phone when she calls or texts.  One of his teachers notified social services of his situation so Lynn agreed to meet the social worker at his house this morning.  They didn’t notify him in advance that they were coming.  I had to count at Central first thing but I met up and rode with her to Waynesboro.  It is never a safe thing or her to go to a students’ house by herself so I wanted to ride along.

We got to his house shortly after 10:00.  The social worker was scheduled to come at 10:30 and Lynn also made arrangements to Zoom with her Migrant Education supervisor in Albemarle County at 10:30 so all three adults would be in on the conversation.  The issue was that when we got to his house, she both called and texted but he didn’t reply to either. 

The social worker got here at 10:20 so they knocked on his door.  He answered and they brought him outside to talk.  One of the things they wanted to tell him is that Waynesboro was starting to allow some students to come to the high school two days a week and that he would be required to do so.  His teachers had tried to notify him of this but likewise had no response back.

Lynn has worked with this student for almost two years now.  Prior to COVID-19, he was regular in his school attendance and was actually doing well.  They would meet at the Waynesboro Public Library each week and go over his school assignments.

Lynn has worked with Migrant Education for about fifteen years now, tutoring at least one student every semester.  In fact, this is what prompted her to move from teaching high school Spanish to elementary school English Language Learners (aka ESL).  After twenty years of teaching high school Spanish she was somewhat burned out but needed ten more years of teaching to get full retirement.  She found the answer when she left Fort Defiance High School to go to Lacey Spring Elementary School in 2007.  She had ten really good and satisfying work at Lacey Spring then at Cub Run Elementary School in Rockingham County.  She developed lots of close contacts with the students she tutored, especially Nathan and Emily whom she first met over a decade ago.  They are somewhat adopted grandchildren of ours and will be coming to our house this Wednesday to celebrate Nathan’s tenth birthday. 

The conversation with her student lasted around a half hour.  She said they got everything straight and he should be attending at Waynesboro High tomorrow.  For sure, she’ll be checking on him.  She made an appointment to work with him outside his house Wednesday afternoon.  She seemed pleased that they had met with him and have a plan for moving forward.

This afternoon I was able to return to Central and finish all of my outstanding jobs with CUMC’s finance.  We have a finance committee meeting tomorrow evening via Zoom so I wanted to have everything in good shape prior to the meeting.

The White House today claims that Mike Pence is an “essential worker” and therefore doesn’t have to abide by the CDC’s recommendation about quarantine.  With multiple close associates testing positive, it is a no brainer to everyone with common sense that Pence should be staying away from others.  On the contrary, he is on the campaign trail trying to generate more support for a corrupt President.  And this is the same guy in charge of the coronavirus task force…

The President mocks the news about COVID-19 even though infection records keep being set in state after state. His own chief of staff last night said they could not control it.  I will be SO glad when Donald Trump is history.

Another set of records being set is the number of Americans voting early.  More than 62 million people have already voted.  According to ABC, most early voters are Republican.  Trump is banking on a huge turnout on election day.  Wouldn’t it be fitting if many can’t vote on November 3 because they’re in quarantine due to COVID-19?

With so many people voting early and some states not allowing ballots to be opened or counted until November 3, it is certainly possible that these states will not know who wins them until several days afterwards.  Some of these are crucial states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The graphs of coronavirus cases and deaths are both still increasing over the recent months.  You would think that by now we could have a better handle on this but it is clearly not the case.

Tonight we went on another short wild goose chase looking for some craft supplies for Lynn.  We went to a Dollar Tree in Fishersville, then one in Waynesboro.  Neither had the Christmas bells she was looking for.  We had nothing else to do so it wasn’t so bad.  Plus, Lynn had some coupons for a free junior Frostie at the Verona Wendy’s for each of us.

Republicans are rejoicing tonight because it looks like Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed tonight as the next Supreme Court Justice.  Given what the Republicans did to Barack Obama’s nomination of Merritt Garland four years ago, this is hypocrisy to its highest level.  She will be the first justice ever confirmed so close to an election day.  “Let the people decide” the Republican Senators cried in 2016 as they blocked Obama’s nomination.  Now their message is “Let the current Senate with a Republican majority decide.”  I’ve written before about how angry this has made me. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

October 26           Infected                   Died

World               43,761,833           1,164,184

US                       8,959,376              231,026

Virginia               174,275                  3,581

Augusta County          659                         8

Virginia only showed two new deaths in the past 24 hours.  Of course, this could just be a data entry mistake.  The other statistics are not good.  The US showed another 60,000+ infections.

October 27, 2020

I forgot to mention yesterday how good Lynn looked.  She dressed up because she was going to Waynesboro to meet with her student and the Waynesboro City Schools’ social worker.  I commented about how good she looked and she replied that it was the first time since the pandemic hit that she had worn a dress!  She had gone well over 200 days without dressing up.  This is sad and just points out how limited we’ve been in what we’ve done since March. 

Connie Rohrer was scheduled to clean our house today so we decided to vacate while she was here this morning.  We had a rather long list of groceries to get at Costco, especially for Central UMC, so we left in time to be there during their senior hour, 9:00 – 10:00.  After we got the items, we stopped by home briefly then I went to Central to drop them off while Lynn went to her Mom’s for lunch.

Lynn was happy to find out that the student she tutors in Waynesboro did go to school today.  The social worker e-mailed her.  Now he just needs to make this habitual.

I spent a good bit of time preparing for two meetings I had tonight—CUMC Finance Committee at 6:00 and Church Council at 7:00.  I’m the chairman of the former committee and secretary of the latter.  I always like to pre-prepare the minutes as best I can so that as soon as the meeting is over I can send the minutes out.  It helps that some people e-mail their reports before the meeting.

The meetings went well and each ended a little early.

I will be so happy a week from tonight, especially if Biden wins.  I am tired of the e-mails, texts, commercials, and news programs.  I need no more convincing that Trump is an evil, incompetent man.  If he does win this election I will have lost tremendous faith in humanity.  Tonight I believe that wisdom and science will prevail and Biden will win in a landslide.  In this part of Virginia, many more yards have Trump signs than Biden.  It makes me think that I am surrounded by idiots.

The news about coronavirus is no different—cases are still rising everywhere but people are tired of hearing about it.  Such a shame because it is clearly not under control:

October 27           Infected                   Died

World               44,235,091           1,171,274

US                       9,038,030              232,084

Virginia               175,409                  3,600

Augusta County          664                         9

Just look at these numbers—almost 80,000 new cases in America and 1,000 more deaths.  In Virginia, another 1,200 new cases and 19 more deaths including one more in Augusta County.  Does anyone care?

October 28, 2020

Today was another dry, pleasant autumn day.  Lynn and I were able to get in a walk today, something we haven’t been regular at now compared to the time before her broken foot.  We just walked our two mile hike on Leaport Road but it was nice. 

She went to Waynesboro to work with her Migrant Education student and I went to Central to do some bookkeeping tasks.  The Staff Parish Committee is almost to the point of hiring a new administrative assistant so my work there will be changing.  I’ll move from being bookkeeper to bookkeeper teacher.   There are several parts of the job that I’m not confident enough about to teach yet.

This is somewhat like my background in math.  There are multiple levels of understanding something.  The lowest level is to be able to mimic what someone else has shown you.   So when you learned to factor x2 + 5x + 6 as (x + 3)(x +2) you could use that example to enable you to factor x2 + 7x + 12.  A higher level of understanding is to be able to teach this skill to someone else.  In order to do this job, you have to understand the concept much better.  For example, you realize that you can’t factor x2 + 5x + 3.  Even better, you might have a graphical image of factoring where you visualize factoring as creating a rectangle with the two factors as dimensions of the two sides of the rectangle.  Using my examples above, you would create a rectangle with one side x + 3 and another side x + 2 and show that this rectangle has the area x2 + 5x + 6.

I understand pretty well the concepts of check writing, deposits, managing investment income, managing online income, generating reports, tracking credit card purchases, tracking individual giving records, and reconciling accounts.  I am not so confident yet in payroll, taxes, or paying apportionments.  My task today was to make my first apportionment payment.  It turned out to be rather easy because all I had to do was log in to an online portal and specify how much we were going to pay.  The money is then automatically taken out of our checking account.  Then I just had to document it in QuickBooks which was easy.

We won’t be making a payroll until the second week in November so I’ve got some time to learn more about it.  I did the current payroll but it was with our former bookkeeper, Sarah, helping me. 

This afternoon we had company.  Our “adopted” family of Nathan and Emily with their parents Elizabeth and Gilberto came over.  They had not seen our pergola and the weather was nice.  Plus, we had missed Nathan’s 10th birthday last Saturday so Lynn bought a cake and had presents for both children.  We were able to talk and swing outside for over an hour.  I should note that much of the talk was not understandable to me because Lynn and Elizabeth tend to talk in Spanish.  Their children are doing very, very well in school now.  Emily is in the sixth grade and Nathan the fourth.

This evening we had just enough time to eat dinner, run to Smiley’s for ice cream, and get back in time to Zoom with our family.  The Gutshalls weren’t able to join us; Betsy has dancing on Wednesday nights and the internet connection at their house isn’t good.  But Jim and boys plus Kay, Thomas, and Georgia joined Lynn and me.  The kids helped make the conversations very lively.  It was a lot of fun. 

A CDC tweet today said “As of October 25, #COVID19 cases continue to increase nationwide. Average daily cases in the previous 7-days increased 26% from the previous 7 days.”  Here are the statistics from worldometers.info:

October 28           Infected                   Died

World               44,739,124           1,178,514

US                       9,118,514              233,121

Virginia               176,754                  3,616

Augusta County          679                         9

More of the same…another thousand new deaths in the United States and well over a thousand new cases in Virginia.

October 29, 2020

I’m afraid our beautiful, sunny, dry autumn weather is history.  Today was wet and the next two days are predicted to be cold.  Plus, we return to standard time this coming Saturday evening which will mean it will be dark very early.  Right now it gets dark shortly after 6:00.  Next week this will be 5:00!

Central had need of some volunteers to help move a new refrigerator into the building this morning so I volunteered then stayed at CUMC to work a little with the books.  Meanwhile, Lynn went to see her mother then went to Walmart.  After I finished at Central, I went to Electric Connection in Staunton to buy two GFI receptacles and a replacement breaker.  Butch had told me we would need these when he comes next week.  Lowe’s didn’t have any GFI receptacles so I thought I’d try the Electric Connection.  I also went to Kroger to pick up a prescription.

My trip to the Electric Connection turned out better than I had thought it would.  The salesperson double checked with me to make sure I was getting the right equipment, then, as he rang up the purchase, he asked, “Did you teach math at Fort Defiance High School?”  Yes, I replied, and asked him his name.  It turns out that I remembered him pretty well.  He was very complimentary of my teaching, saying that he had gone on to get a degree in Electrical Engineering from Old Dominion University.  He said that he had two really good math instructors in his past, a professor at ODU and me.  I was humbled.

Lynn had a busy time this afternoon.  She had a Zoom IEP meeting with a parent in Rockingham County Public Schools which lasted an hour.  Then she fixed a delicious dinner.  After dinner, she had a Central Staff Parish Meeting via Zoom.  The purpose of her meeting was to decide about a replacement for our administrative assistant.  The committee did make a decision so soon I will become a QuickBooks teacher!

I’ve been planning to rewrite an abbreviated manual that Sarah Russell had made for the bookkeeper’s duties.  I’d like to make it much more detailed including screen shots that I’ve been making.

Five days to go before Election Day!  Trump boasted today about record growth in the Gross National Product over the last quarter.  The truth is, the job crisis is far from over.  Over 750,000 applied for unemployment just last week.  We still are ten million jobs below where we were before the pandemic hit. 

In the news tonight it was announced that a record of more than 85,000 new cases of COVID-19 had been identified in the United States in the past 24 hours.  Johns Hopkins said today that an American tests positive every 1.2 seconds and one dies every 107 seconds. 

Trump continued to have super-spreader rallies today in Florida.  That state is a crucial one for both candidates and today the polling shows the race is neck-and-neck. 

Here are today’s numbers:

October 29           Infected                   Died

World               45,278,643           1,185,130

US                       9,202,191              234,079

Virginia               178,183                  3,636

Augusta County          687                         9

I can copy and paste this sentence almost every day:  1,000 new deaths in the US and 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  As noted in the Johns Hopkins data earlier in post, the US number of cases increased by around 85,000 from the previous day.  Virginia actually had over 1,300 new cases. 

October 30, 2020

This election is so different from any I’ve experienced.  I’ve been through twelve Presidential elections.  In all previous ones, I’ve likely supported candidates many of my relatives and friends did not.  But we got along and didn’t let the election divide us.  True, we didn’t have social media when Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford but even if we did I don’t think we’d have seen the vitriol that has accompanied this year’s race.  Social media didn’t cause this.  Donald Trump did.  He is absolutely the most divisive leader I’ve ever experienced.  He doesn’t just divide Republicans and Democrats, he divides white and blacks, residents and immigrants, rich and middle class, police and public, and those who own and detest guns.  Previously, I was in half of each of those groups and got along fine with the other half.  Trump changed that.  I perceived previous elections being based on ideological differences.  This one is based on non-ideological differences:  differences in skin color, 401K status, and coronavirus spread.  I don’t want four more years of divisiveness.  Very reluctantly, I can perhaps even put back my rage at the way the Republicans handled the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett versus the way they handled Merritt Garland’s nomination.  I don’t believe Barrett is evil; I believe Trump is.  I can’t stand four more years of his lies, income tax coverups, nepotism, disregard for science, narcissism, and racism.  I didn’t vote for or particularly like Reagan or the Bushes but they didn’t destroy the America I enjoyed.  Trump did. 

Despite the cold weather, Lynn still welcomed her two friends Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent to an outside get-together this morning.  I went to Central where I moved my “office” into a room across the hall from the main office since the new administrative assistant will start on Monday and I wanted to be socially distant.  The treasurer’s computer connects to the network via WiFi so it didn’t really matter where I moved to as long as I could get it powered up.

By the time I got back, Lynn was ready to go.  I know we’re supposed to hunker down in these times but that just isn’t in Lynn’s blood.  She is safe when she goes out—always wears her mask, wipes her hands with sanitizer when she gets back in the car, and doesn’t spend long in stores.  But she still goes and goes and goes.  Today she went to the Rockingham County Public Schools offices to turn in monthly timesheets then to a Dollar Tree in Dayton.  She didn’t find the Christmas bells she wanted at that Dollar Tree so she called the one in Timberville and was excited to find out they had them.  So we then made a trip to Timberville then got home just in time to take off again, this time to Staunton where she stopped by her sister Kay’s house, then Cheryl Kent’s house, then to see her mother.  In the meantime, I went to Kroger to pick up a prescription.  We then drove straight to the Old Schoolhouse food truck in Weyers Cave for our weekly Friday night hamburgers.  So much for hunkering down!

We’re eight months into the coronavirus pandemic.  You’d think that by now this plague would have been put under control.  Would you believe that the United States set a record for the most infections in the past 24 hours?  More than 92,600 new cases!  Trump’s son said last night, “Why are they talking about deaths?  They’re almost nothing.”  Well, nothing today was 961 according to ABC news. 

Worldometers.info had even higher numbers, showing the US with more than 100,000 new cases overnight:

October 30           Infected                   Died

World               45,854,042           1,192,592

US                       9,304,510              235,092

Virginia               179,639                  3,643

Augusta County          701                         9

Virginia’s counts were way up again, too.  What’s puzzling is that I know people have gotten better about mask wearing.  Perhaps our social distancing isn’t what it should be. 

A year ago we were in Italy.  Today we got a pleasant reminder of that—Sandy Porterfield surprised us by sending a jigsaw puzzle of Cinque-Terre, Italy, one of the most beautiful places we visited. 

I’ve been reviewing our options for Medicare Part D for 2021.  Part D is the prescription drug plan which people subscribe to.  It can be changed every year.  We learned the hard way what happens if you don’t.  Lynn, who almost never has a prescription, has been with a Humana plan for years.  It is automatically drafted from our checking account.  Neither of us noticed that over the past couple of years the rates have doubled then tripled.  She currently pays over $50 per month for a service she almost never uses.  Meanwhile, I switched my plan to Wellcare which only costs about $14 per month.  But in doing our research for the upcoming year I’ve found a plan with Aetna that will cost us only $7.30 per month, each, a substantial savings.  I talked to an agent at Aetna today and got my questions answered.  And, the pharmacist at Kroger, where I picked up my prescription this afternoon, told me they had no trouble with this Aetna plan.  We have until early December to switch our plans and we will certainly do so.  The government provides an easy way to comparison-shop at medicare.gov where you enter your current prescriptions and the drugstores you want to use.  The website then shows you the anticipated annual costs.

October 31, 2020

I’ve stated in previous postings that I first write this in MS Word then copy and paste the new day’s writing onto my website.  According to Word, the page I’m writing on now is the 300th single spaced page I’ve done since April 20.

After an easy morning with just the weekly garbage to take care of, I settled in for a noon football game between my beloved Mountaineers and Kansas State.  Kansas State came into Morgantown with a 4-1 record ranked #16 in the US.  On any other year Lynn and I would have been in the stands for this one.  However, we would have had to be bundled up because the kickoff temperature was 43o in Morgantown.  Those metal bleachers would have been quite cold.

The first quarter had me screaming.  WVU intercepted early but then missed a field goal in what should have given them an early lead.  They did a good job of holding Kansas State to a field goal when K-State had first and goal on the three.  Then West Virginia had a good drive that got them first and goal from the one.  As has been the case so often, they blew it from there and had to settle for a field goal.  Terrible!

The second quarter was much better with the Mounties taking a 24-10 lead at halftime.  The second half was all Mountaineers.  The defense dominated the Wildcats.  The final score was 37-10, the best win of the season for WVU. 

Lynn made a special caramel apple dump cake for this weekend.  Since today was Halloween and there was no trick-or-treating due to COVID-19, she invited the Gutshalls to come over and enjoy some of it.  Plus, we prepared some treat bags with candy for each child.  It was only 50o outside but still we ate the delicious cake on the porch.

Jim sent a picture of Faron and Coen dressed for Halloween and Kay did the same for Thomas and Georgia.  I combined them with the pictures I took when the Gutshalls were here and created another (small) album of Halloween pictures for my website.  I now have 425 albums with a total of 52,179 pictures!

According to ABC news, forty-nine states and territories are in an upward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases, according to an internal Health and Human Services.  Nearly one-third of West Virginia’s COVID-19 patients were in the intensive care unit during the week ending Oct. 25, marking the highest percentage of COVID-19 patients in critical care in the region.  The U.S. recorded 537,501 new coronavirus cases during the week ending Oct. 29 — a 25.4% increase from the previous week, the memo said.  Deaths are up by 2.2% compared with the previous week.

The United States set a new record in single-day COVID-19 cases Friday, according to several data trackers.  There were 92,630 new COVID-19 cases reported between 5 p.m. Thursday and 5 p.m. Friday, according to date from Johns Hopkins University.  Another tally, by The New York Times, also saw a record number of new cases on Friday, with 90,728.  The COVID Tracking Project put the nation’s daily case numbers at 97,080, far surpassing Thursday’s record of 88,452. The current case surges indicate “uncontrolled spread” of COVID-19, the group said.  The site I use, worldometers.info, reported 95,885 new cases. 

Here are all the statistics from worldometers and the Virginia Department of Health:

October 31           Infected                   Died

World               46,347,055           1,199,373

US                       9,400,395              236,060

Virginia               181,190                  3,654

Augusta County          707                         9

Today was the day with 25 hours in it for us—we set our clocks back tonight as Daily Standard Time came to an end.  To make the time pass, we watched most of a second football game, Virginia Tech vs Louisville, and even a little of a third one, Virginia vs North Carolina.

We sometimes struggle for what television to watch at night.  Last night we stumbled onto a Netflix movie that turned out to be pretty funny, Hollidate.  Tonight we tried another Hallmark movie.

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 ree