Author Archives: joehillfamily

August 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

August 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 1              Infected                   Died

World             198,972,179           4,239,621

US                     35,768,924              629,380

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

August 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

August 2              Infected                   Died

World             199,547,478           4,247,939

US                     35,884,940              629,840

Virginia                697,939                11,534

Augusta County       6,055                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

August 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:’

August 3              Infected                   Died

World             200,231,329           4,258,303

US                     36,048,572              630,493

Virginia                699,342                11,536

Augusta County       6,065                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

August 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 4              Infected                   Died

World             200,930,643           4,268,898

US                     36,175,613              631,299

Virginia                701,059                11,541

Augusta County       6,073                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

July 1, 2021

We did a lot on our first full day in Maine.  We began with breakfast at the Rhumb Line Resort.  It wasn’t great but still better than the two previous hotels we had stayed at.  Our group grew overnight as Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia got here at 2:40 AM.  They still joined us for breakfast.

We had made arrangements to go to the mini golf place near here, Raptor Falls, at 11:00.  We had a big crew there:  Ann, Josh, Henry, Gus, Betsy, Freddie, Kay, Andy, Thomas, Georgia, Jim, Butch, plus we were joined by Colin, Kit, Nora, Leo, and Paxton.  Only the nine kids played, one group of five boys and a group of four girls.  I kept score for the boys.  The course was 18 holes.  Gus and Henry tied for the lowest score though Leo and Freddie both had two holes-in-one (which earned them $2 each from me).

After that we went to downtown Kennebunkport for lunch at the Clam Shack.  It was very crowded but we were able to secure two outside tables and eat a big lunch.

Then we decided to take a walk.  First we went to Cape Porpoise where the kids were able to explore a lot along the rocky shore.  Then Jim took us to a place where he had run earlier in the week called Poimt which was part of the Rachel Carson preserve.  Here we got in a good walk.  He had wanted us to walk to an island off the shore of the Point but when we were there it was high tide which made it impossible to get to the island. 

When we got back to where we had parked our cars, a policeman was taking pictures of Lynn’s Venza and its license plate.  I politely asked him if I could help him with anything and told him that was our car.  He said it wasn’t parked correctly.  I explained why I had parked it the way I had, that of the five cars parked there four were from my family, and why we were in the area.  He backed off when I asked him if there was a fine and said that he would make it a warning this time.   Whew!

By the time we got back home it was time to get ready for the reception for Vic and Amy hosted by my sister at the Colony Hotel.  The Colony Hotel is an upscale hotel in Kennebunkport.  Neither Lynn nor I had any idea who all would be at this reception.  We thought maybe only family plus a few out-of-town guests.  We were wrong.  There must have been 150 people there.  Apparently Amy is from near here and many of those in attendance were acquantenances of her and/or her parents.  It started with an open bar followed by a sit-down feast.  This must have cost my sister a fortune.  At the meal they served huge Maine lobster among other things.  There was clam chowder, chicken, salad, mussels, potatoes, and corn on the cob.  For dessert they had Maine blueberry pie.  Yum!  Jim ate four lobsters.

We came home close to 9:00 and the kids had an hour of swimming in the outdoor pool.  It was so good to hear them giggle and laugh as they played. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 1                Infected                   Died

World             183,408,407           3,971,381

US                     34,561,403              620,645

Virginia                680,564                11,419

Augusta County       5,988                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,072,494  (4,339,684 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,169  (33,356 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

Augusta County had only one new COVID-19 case but had one additional death in the last 24 hours.

July 2, 2021

Today was the day of the wedding.  We began the day with breakfast at the Rhumb Line though Ann made a run to a donut shop in nearby Wells MA for a couple of dozen treats.  The weather had taken a drastic turn; when we arrived in Maine the high for the day was around 95o.  Today the high was 60o.  And overnight it had rained over an inch and it was still coming down when I got up.

By the time our extended breakfast had ended, the rain had slowed but it was still quite cold.  Lynn wanted to do some shopping in Wells and a few others joined her.  While they were gone, I set my computer up for a family Jeopardy game, connecting it to the tv in the breakfast room.  I had told our family that we’d start jeopardy at 10:30 since breakfast ended at 10:00.  But Lynn didn’t get back from her shopping until almost 11:45 so that cut deeply into my Jeopardy plans.  We only had time for two games; I had prepared a dozen.  At least while we were waiting, Thomas, Freddie, and Gus prepared a game of their own.

So instead of playing more jeopardy, the crew was anxious to get downtown Kennebunkport to shop.  We loaded up and headed out in the rain.  Parking there is awful.  We drove around and around trying to find a parking place, finally settling for a municipal lot about a mile outside of town.  We slogged to the downtown area where we met up with everyone. 

The stores in Kennebunkport took in their share of Virginia money.  By that time, some were hungry, so they headed off for lunch.  Lynn, Josh, and I returned to the car and came back to the hotel where we grabbed a small bite of lunch at the restaurant by the pool.

I was worried sick that our family would not make it to the wedding on time so I sent them an unwelcomed text reminding them how important it was for us to be on time for the wedding.  My family does not have a good history of this.

I took my shower and dressed for the wedding as did Lynn.  By that time, the kids were back from downtown and anxious to swim in the indoor pool since they weren’t going to the wedding; the wedding was for adults only.

To my surprise, our crew was able to get ready for the 5:00 wedding by 4:30.  The site, the Nonantum Inn, was only a five minute drive from here.  Actually the drive there was very scenic and passed by the compound owned by the former Bush Presidents. 

The wedding was outside.  Fortunately, the rain had stopped.  My nephew Joseph was the officiant for his brother’s wedding.  He did a great job, mixing humor with the memory of their Dad, Denny, and the wedding ritual.  Likewise, Victor and Amy both had both humorous and tender pledges to each other.  It was really a nice ceremony.

The reception afterwards was something to behold.  A huge tent had been erected on the premises for those in attendance, around 150.  A twelve piece band played as drinks and a catered dinner was served.  The band was from Portland ME and was one of the best bands I’ve ever heard.  The singing, dancing, and celebrating went into the night though most of our family had left by around 10:00.

I mentioned that the kids weren’t invited.  They stayed here on their own, with Henry and Gus charged with their oversight.  Of course, their parents checked on them often.  They swam in the indoor pool and watched a movie in our room.  Ann and Josh took pizza to them during a break at the reception.

It was a very, very good day.  I’m so glad we had this happy occasion to gather.  At my age, too often family gatherings are for funerals.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

July 2                   Infected                   Died

World             183,933,740           3,981,758

US                     34,580,198              621,161

Virginia                680,744                11,423

Augusta County       5,987                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,089,128  (4,348,841 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,230  (33,494 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

Alas, today was our last full day in Maine.  Tomorrow we head through New Hampshire and Vermont to Albany NY on our way to Niagara Falls.

July 3, 2021

Today was mainly a travel day, driving from Kennebunkport ME to Albany NY.  But we didn’t start the day with the long drive.  First, we packed our cars and checked out of the Rhumb Line Resort by 9:00 AM.  The last wedding event was an post-wedding brunch back at the Nonantum Resort from 9:00 – 11:00 AM.  All of us went.

It was quite a feast with bacon, sausage, crepes, cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, eggs, etc.  We enjoyed our breakfast and said our goodbyes to everyone, getting on the way around 11:00. 

Our drive to Albany was not on the fastest route.  We deliberately went due west so we could add Vermont to our list of states.  To be honest, the drive through Vermont was the prettiest drive we’ve experienced yet despite the on-and-off rain.  Vermont is so green this time of the year.

Our first stop, even before we got to Vermont, was at Charley’s Olde Tyme Creamery in Peterborough, NH.  This was a little hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop I had found on the internet.  Charley himself served us.  The ice cream was quite good and we all enjoyed it despite the rain and cold.  Today was not a typical ice cream day.

From there we drove on to Albany with a few stops on the way.  So, in effect, we drove horizontally across both New Hampshire and Vermont.  Again, our drive was quite scenic and without 18-wheelers.

We arrived in Albany shortly after 6:00 PM.  It took us a while to find dinner.  We called several restaurants and inquired about the wait time for a party of eight, and finally decided on a diner with good reviews.  It was closed!  So our car with Lynn, Betsy, Freddie, and I came back to the hotel while the others went to an Italian restaurant that had take-out only called Sovrana Grocery Bakery Pizza Deli.  They brought back to the Hilton Garden Inn a tremendous amount of delicious food for our dinner.

By the time we finished with dinner, it was time for bed.  The kids had planned on swimming in the indoor pool at the Hilton Garden Inn but it was tiny and packed with other kids.

We had excellent news after dinner that Jim had made it home.  He drove the entire way from Maine to Roanoke.  I know he was tired when he rolled into his driveway.

Tomorrow we drive to Niagara Falls for what I hope is an exciting time for our grandchildren.  It is something to behold.  Lynn and I have been there twice before.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 3                   Infected                   Died

World             184,231,181           3,987,155

US                     34,588,176              621,255

Virginia                680,904                11,423

Augusta County       5,989                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,107,161  (4,359,054 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,283  (33,527 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

Virginia had no new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours.  Hurrah!

July 4, 2021

I told the Gutshall kids this morning that they’d be seeing two huge things today:  the largest basketball stadium and the largest waterfall in the US.  The Syracuse Carrier Dome was about halfway between Albany and Niagara Falls.  I also told the kids to wear their WV/VT/UVA/JMU apparel today because we didn’t want anyone to think we were Orangemen. 

For a change, the weather forecast wasn’t for chilly conditions.  The high today was around 80o with sunny skies.  We’d seen neither for days now.  It did rain a little on us when we left Albany but by the time we got to Niagara the skies were clear.

The Hilton Garden Inn was a nicer hotel than we’ve been staying at but they don’t have an included breakfast.  Fortunately, the Gutshalls had plenty of food left over from last night and Lynn had purchased some mini cinnamon rolls from Costco.  I ate three of the cinnamon rolls; Freddie ate seven of them.  We were packed and on the road right at 10:00 AM which put us in Syracuse around noon.

It was hard to find a restaurant open on Sunday, July 4.  After lots of looking, we settled on the Market Diner in Syracuse.  It turned out to be a very good choice.  We all enjoyed a variety of lunch foods.  For example, I had chicken and waffles except they were out of waffles so mine became chicken and pancakes.  Delicious! 

Only a few miles away was the famous Syracuse University Carrier Dome.  It is the largest indoor basketball stadium in the U.S.  It is so large that its football team also plays there.  It has a capacity for football at 49,250 and for basketball it is 34,616.  I had hopes of getting inside to snap some pictures but there was no one around on a Sunday morning.  Plus, they are doing some major upgrading to its roof so there was no way to get inside.

Lynn likes to buy Pandora charms which represent places she’s been.  She was hoping to get a Niagara Falls charm.  The first Pandora store listed was closed and not open until Tuesday.  The second one was listed so we called it.  It had the charm but we discovered that it was in Canada so there was no way to go there.  We didn’t bring our passports and don’t think they’re allowing US visitors anyway due to COVID-19.  She wanted to buy one charm for herself and another for her friend Cheryl Wright.  I had the idea to check the Buffalo store and this plan worked.  They had the charms, it wasn’t far off our route, so we detoured there on our way to the Courtyard by Marriott in Niagara Falls.

The Courtyard by Marriott was a good choice.  It was within walking distance Niagara Falls, a good thing because parking there would have been a nightmare.  This hotel was going through some renovation but still had everything we needed for our stay.  The pool was a very small indoor pool with maximum depth of 4’ so when Gus and Betsy tried it they were disappointed but everything else was good.

We walked down to the American falls, about a mile from the hotel.  The view was magnificent, especially since the weather was ideal.  It was sunny and around 78o.  By the time we got there, it was after 6:00 so we had some indecision as to whether to ride the Maid of the Mist then or wait until Monday morning.  It turned out that the line for the ride was very short by this late in the day and we were able to get on one of the last boats of the day.

This was one of the neatest things we’ve done on the entire vacation.  Everyone had a ball as we rode close by the American and Canadian (Horseshoe) Falls.  I took lots and lots of pictures.  With the sun in the background, each of the falls had a great rainbow.  Of course, we got wet but were outfitted with the Maid of the Mist raincoats.

We didn’t get to see any fireworks today but we could certainly hear them from our hotel.  The fireworks planned for the falls had been canceled due to COVID but apparently the city had some elsewhere.

The worst part of the day is that by the time we finished with the ride, there were no restaurants open in the Falls area.  We had to walk back to the hotel and scramble to find food.  Ann’s family found a Taco Bell within driving distance while Lynn and I (plus Betsy and Gus) drove to a Dairy Queen.  We didn’t go to bed hungry.

As we were starting to Dairy Queen, I noticed that a panel on the outside of the rear, passenger side, door of Lynn’s car was loose.  It somewhat impeded opening the rear door.  There was no sign that the car had been struck by anything so I’m not sure why this happened.  We’ll just have to be careful opening this door the rest of the trip until Lynn can get it fixed.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 4                   Infected                   Died

World             184,566,950           3,993,511

US                     34,592,377              621,293

Virginia                681,072                11,427

Augusta County       5,991                       79

            Vaccinated*  Note that this data was not updated on July 4.

            Virginia 9,107,161  (4,359,054 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,283  (33,527 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

July 5, 2021

We wanted to get one more good look at Niagara Falls before heading south today. We hadn’t walked to the island between the American and Horseshoe Falls called Goat Island yesterday so our goal was to walk there then head home.

The problem is that you have to get up and get packed to do this and most of our party couldn’t be roused this morning.  I was up later than usual, 7:00, but still was two hours ahead of most everyone else.  Checkout was 11:00 from the Courtyard by Marriott and we barely made that.  And that was BEFORE breakfast.  For breakfast, we walked almost a mile back toward the Falls to a restaurant known as Spot Coffee.  The hotel had recommended this to us and even gave us a 10% off coupon. 

Apparently there were plenty of other people with the same idea.  The line to order was awful and there were no available tables when we got there.  Actually, five of us had walked ahead leaving Henry, Ann, and Josh to join us later.  They got there before we got our food ordered which worked out well.  The food was actually quite good so I guess it worked out but it was after 12:30 when we finally left. 

From there, we walked to Goat Island where we went to overlooks both near the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls.  I almost 100 more photos which ran my collection on this trip to over 750 pictures.  The weather was hotter than yesterday but at least it was dry. 

Exhausted, we walked back to the cars at the hotel and headed out.  Well, we didn’t go south quite yet—there was this ice cream store called De Dee’s Dairy just a few miles away that was beckoning us.  We ate our ice cream and milkshakes and boarded our vehicles for a 4 hour plus ride to Altoona.

The ride there was pleasant—mostly on US Highways instead of Interstates.  The traffic was minimal and the scenery beautiful.  On the way, I got lots of chores done including spending over $530 on football tickets.  WVU had a special with tickets to the Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State games.  Surprisingly, our calendars were open for all three games so we went for it. 

We didn’t make it to Altoona until 8:00 PM.  Knowing our arrival time and my desire to see my sister for a few minutes, we agreed to order take-out from Marzoni’s, a nice Italian restaurant not far from our hotel where we’ve eaten before.  In both cars, we pulled up the menus online and put together an order to be ready at our arrival time.  We ate in the hotel.

Then Lynn and I hustled over to see Mary K.  It was 9:00 by the time we got there so we didn’t stay long.  I showed her the pictures I had taken beginning with the pizza party hosted by Joseph and through the brunch the morning after the wedding.  She seemed to like them a lot, especially the ones of her and grandson Dennis whom she had not held before this past weekend.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 5                   Infected                   Died

World             184,923,557           4,000,520

US                     34,598,361              621,335

Virginia                681,194                11,431

Augusta County       5,991                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,126,747  (4,370,235 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,342  (33,558 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

July 6, 2021

Our family vacation came to an end today.  All in all we drove approximately 2,000 miles through ten of the fifty states:  Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.  We stayed overnight in four states:  Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine, and New York.  We did a variety of activities including the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Vic and Amy’s wedding in Maine, and viewing Niagara Falls.  The kids were superb travelers.

We took our time getting up and eating breakfast at the Comfort Suites in Altoona.  The price we’ve paid for hotels has been all over the place.  The Niagara Falls Courtyard by Marriott cost $300 per night per room.  It didn’t even have breakfast.  This Comfort Suites in Altoona was under $100 per night per room and included breakfast.  The difference in rooms was minimal.  In fact, the Comfort Suites rooms were the largest we stayed in. 

Lynn wanted to do some quick shopping at a couple of Altoona favorites so before we headed home we stopped at Pacifico’s bakery where she bought some bread.  Then we went to Benzel’s Pretzel Outlet to pick up some pretzels.

Drive straight home?  No way when there’s an ice cream store we haven’t been to.  This time it was Ritchie’s Ice Cream about 30 minutes south of Altoona off I-99.   It turned out to be a very good find.  They had homemade ice cream and waffle cones plus cheap hot dogs.  We got there right at lunchtime.  It was in the middle of some beautiful Pennsylvania farm country.  Our route from there to US 30 kept us off interstate highways and was a really pretty drive.  Perhaps we’ll take this route again when we come from or go to Altoona.

From there, we only made one more bathroom stop on the way home.  We got home around 4:00, just in time to grab our mail which was held.  We dropped Betsy and Freddie off at their house then unloaded all our belongings. 

We then met Ann’s family back in Harrisonburg at El Sol, the Mexican restaurant we’d been promising to take them to.  Tonight was Taco Tuesday and we took full advantage of it.  We love their guacamole and chips, too. 

After dinner, we went to Belk to get a package Lynn had ordered, Aldi to get some groceries, and Costco to get some gas for my car.  Then we came home, quite tired after all the traveling we’ve done in the past nine days.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 6                   Infected                   Died

World             185,350,158           4,008,460

US                     34,616,333              621,563

Virginia                681,326                11,434

Augusta County       6,000                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,132,548  (4,373,518 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,380  (33,583 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

July 7, 2021

Today I attempted to catch up a bit from having been on vacation for the past nine days.  That didn’t come before tennis, though.  I played from 8:30 – 10:15 in the heat at Mary Baldwin.  I always have a good time playing even when I don’t play great.  Today I was so-so.

After tennis I went to Central for an hour to do some Treasurer’s work.  I got a couple of things done including recording some deposits but I’ve got lots more to do.  That’s why I’m going back tomorrow morning and, hopefully, will stay until they are all done.

I could only stay for an hour because I had a dentist appointment at 11:45.  I had my teeth cleaned and a full set of x-rays done.  By the time I paid for that plus two tooth whitening kits, one for Lynn and one for me, my bill was $420.  At least I don’t have any current dental issues.

This afternoon I did mostly computer work at home, both picture work and paying bills.  It was too hot to do anything outside.  After dinner, the temperatures cooled a bit so I cut the grass.  It made much more sense to do it later in the day as the high today was around 93o

I learned through the monthly Bramwell Presbyterian Church’s newsletter that my favorite pastor of all times, Jerry Conner, had passed away last week.  He was the minister at my church when I was a teenager.  He was young, just out of seminary.  In college he had lettered in three sports.  He was the youngest of nine children and many of his sermons were about family.  He was actively involved in Bramwell High School’s athletics.  The church manse where he and his young family lived was about 100 yards from my house.  He got me started on a Christian path, one that I know I strayed from at times.  He was only at Bramwell for a few years before going on to much bigger appointments, eventually retiring in Florida.  He was almost 90 when he died.  I can honestly say that no pastor ever had such a profound effect on my life as Jerry Conner.  I still remember the sermon he gave at the Bramwell High School Baccalaureate service one year.  It was entitled “What’s That in Your Hand?” It was based on a text from Exodus 4:2 in which God asked Moses:  Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  “A staff,” he replied.  The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”  Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.  The message was that each of the graduates was receiving a diploma, and, like Moses’ staff, it was important that they listened to what God wanted them to do with it.  I saw Jerry several times when he would visit back in Bramwell and wish I could have one more visit with him so I could tell him how influential he had been in my life.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 7                   Infected                   Died

World             185,806,567           4,016,795

US                     34,638,536              621,763

Virginia                681,599                11,436

Augusta County       6,001                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,125,040  (4,410,106 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,293  (33,926 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

Virginia apparently updated its vaccination counts as the numbers reported today were much lower than those reported yesterday.

July 8, 2021

Today was my day to get caught up on my Treasurer’s duties at Central UMC.  I spent the entire morning there but got everything done I needed to.  Not only were there bills to pay, there was a quarterly tax return to be submitted to the IRS, four bank accounts to reconcile, the July 15 payroll to be set up, payroll taxes to be paid, and, the one that took the longest, an update to the information the IRS required before issuing any more direct deposit withdrawals.  For the last one, I spent around an hour chatting with an Intuit rep in order to get it done.  The Intuit tech support is so hard to get to.  I wish there was simply a phone number I could call to discuss issues with a real person.  But the good news is that I got it all done.

After I came home for lunch, I did some other online chores including making hotel reservations for the three WVU football games we’re going to attend this fall:  September 18 versus Virginia Tech, October 2 versus Texas Tech, and November 6 versus Oklahoma State.  For all three games, we booked rooms in Bridgeport WV, about 30 miles south of Morgantown.  There’s no way to get a room in Morgantown on game day. 

This afternoon was somewhat relaxing.  Lynn and I ate dinner then went to Waynesboro for their weekly “Grooving on the Greenway” which features live bands each week for free.  This week’s band was called Thieves of Burden.  Of all the bands we’ve listened to in Waynesboro, this was the one least liked by us.  They were OK, but many of their songs were original and we like hearing familiar songs.

When I played tennis yesterday, at one point Won hit an overhead full steam which caught me on the side of my knee.  It didn’t hurt much then and still doesn’t hurt.  But, being old, I bruise easily.  My left leg now looks like I’ve had some kind of surgery on it with a 4” by 4” dark blue bruise.  It doesn’t keep me from moving so I’ll be playing again tomorrow morning.  I just won’t look very good.

My Honda Civic is having its oil changed tomorrow morning so we dropped it off this evening at T & B Simmons.  It just means I’ll be driving the old truck to play tennis in the morning because we’re going to play early before it gets hot again.

Tonight I set two traps in my back yard because I saw two ground hogs out there this morning.  They’re the first I’ve seen in quite a while and I’m anxious to give them a new home.

I’m trying to come up with a good idea for Lynn’s birthday which is in 17 days.  Maybe we can work out a short trip to take.  I checked a few places out today but nothing jumped out to me as ideal for her.

July 8                   Infected                   Died

World             186,302,158           4,025,643

US                     34,675,895              622,211

Virginia                681,890                11,441

Augusta County       5,994                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,142,125  (4,411,222 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,541  (33,961 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

July 9, 2021

The CDC said today that students should be back in school this fall even though children under 12 haven’t been vaccinated.  They said students and teachers who have been vaccinated won’t need masks but those who haven’t should wear masks.  Six of our eight grandchildren have not.  Also, Pfizer today recommended that a booster shot be given but the CDC didn’t jump on board this yet.  I’ll be happy to get a booster shot anytime I’m told to do so.

I played tennis this morning with my usual foursome.  However, at the end of the first set Pat Peason hurt his leg.  After a while he continued to play but he wasn’t the same.  I’m just glad to be hitting the ball.  My bruise on my leg was a non-issue.

I then spent several hours coming up with ideas for Lynn for her birthday.  I detailed 13 possible trips for her in Virginia and West Virginia.  But when I sent them to her to look over, she didn’t seem enamored by any of them.  Later she found a festival on Chincoteague Island she was interested in but we couldn’t find a reasonable place to stay nearby.  So her next choice was a watermelon festival in Murfeesboro NC.  We were able to find a Hilton Garden Inn not far so we booked it for August 5 – 7.  It has a 5K walk/run that she’s already signed both of us up for.

Another thing I got to check off my to-do list was getting my Honda Civic an oil change today at T & B Simmons.  Once I get new tires on it I hope it will be ready to travel again.  The tires on it now make too much road noise.  They’re Hankook brand and I’m hoping to replace them with another brand.  I stopped by Rice Tire in Verona yesterday and was given quotes for various tires but the salesperson told me that often in August companies put them on sale so maybe I’ll wait.

This was Friday so it was hamburger day at the Old School food truck.  As always, the burgers and fries were good.

The weather has been very hot the last several days.  Tomorrow is supposed to be much better.  But then it takes another turn for the heat.

I reached a milestone today—my 24,000th consecutive Whirly Word puzzle solved!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 9                   Infected                   Died

World             186,796,571           4,034,380

US                     34,707,293              622,664

Virginia                682,147                11,448

Augusta County       5,991                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,156,183  (4,412,664 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,626  (33,967 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

Augusta County’s number of cases has gone down in each of the past two days.  Perhaps they are re-evaluating some of the patients and now not classifying them as being COVID-19 infected.

July 10, 2021

A typical Saturday morning for me—make a run to the trash dump and do a few little chores around the house.  I was so bored for a while that I vacuumed my car.  I had vacuumed Lynn’s car for her last week and she was so appreciative I thought I’d do my car today since she rides in it with me a lot.

I had a good conversation with Jim today between his grass cutting jobs.  He has over 30 yards he does in Roanoke now, bringing in good cash for him which comes in handy because Roanoke City Schools doesn’t pay their teachers over the summer.  He’s considering taking Faron and Coen on a mini-vacation somewhere and I gave him some ideas.

Lynn spent her morning with Cheryl Wright going to yard sales.  She always comes home with more stuff which usually ends up being stacked in the garage.  But finding bargains makes her happy even if she buys things we don’t really need.

This afternoon, despite the 84o heat, Lynn and I did our neighborhood walk.  The heat seemed to suck the energy out of me; when we got back I was quite tired.

Tonight, we had a double date.  Cheryl and her husband Bogie went with us first to El Sol in Harrisonburg for Mexican dinner.  Then we went to Smiley’s for dessert then on to the new Sipe Center in Bridgewater for a musical show by The Atlantic City Boys featuring music from the 50’s and 60’s.

The Sipe Center was nice and would be a good place to return to for other shows.  The Atlantic City Boys were very good so it was a fine evening out.  I believe it is fair to say all four of us had a good time.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 10                 Infected                   Died

World             187,263,125           4,042,632

US                     34,726,111              622,821

Virginia                682,433                11,450

Augusta County       5,979                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,165,947  (4,413,566 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,690  (33,974 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

Yes, in many ways the pandemic is over, especially for those of us who have been vaccinated.  Tonight at the Sipe Cener the average age was probably 70.  The place was almost full and there were almost no masks in sight.  Yet the nationwide news tells that the US still has had over 20,000 new cases each of the past four days, primarily due to the Delta variant.  These cases are almost entirely in unvaccinated people.  Why in God’s name would a person not get vaccinated? 

A CNN news story today showed the electoral college voting map and the current COVID-19 vaccination map.  They are almost identical in the sense that states who voted for Trump have less than 50% of their adults vaccinated and those who voted for Biden have over a 50% vaccination rate.  The percentages run surprisingly close.  In states where Biden won 65% of the vote, usually there are around 65% of its people vaccinated.  In states, like Mississippi, where he won around 30% of the vote, there are around 30% vaccinated.  Amazing!

July 11, 2021

Today was the first Sunday since the pandemic started that Ann’s family came to church.  It was nice to have things almost back to normal.  We had over 50 in attendance—not what we’d like to have but better than attendance has been since we resumed in-person services.

I had a very rough night last night.  I ate way too many tacos at El Sol and followed it up with Smiley’s ice cream.  Well, I paid the price for it overnight.  Perhaps there was something in the food which bothered me though I’ve even there twice before.  Whatever the reason, I spent a very uncomfortable night that I won’t describe here except to say that I had indigestion galore and slept very poorly. 

That being the case, besides going with Lynn to the grocery store and to church, I did very little today.  I did help a little with preparing dinner though Lynn did 90% of the work.  The Gutshalls came over for hamburger casserole, chips with guacamole, bread, and onion fritters.  After dinner we even played a few games of Jeopardy since I had several unused ones from our Maine trip.

On Saturday, July 31, Lynn’s sister Jane is hosting her annual family birthday party.  Three of the Hangers had birthdays that week: Lynn’s mother, Lynn, and her sister Kay.  I guess the party wasn’t held last year due to COVID-19 but it will be resumed this year.  Jim even talked about bringing his boys here for the whole weekend.  That would be lots of fun.

 Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 11                 Infected                   Died

World             187,632,756           4,049,071

US                     34,732,753              622,845

Virginia                682,673                11,450

Augusta County       5,983                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,183,449  (4,414,872 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,764  (33,975 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

July 12, 2021

Lynn is a hoarder.  That is not a complaint, it is merely a true statement.  I’ve learned to live with this over our 45 years of marriage.  If you had any doubts about this assertion, I’d invite you to see our garage.  We have a double car garage that has no room for two bikes, let along two cars.  It is full of boxes and furniture and things she has bought at yard sales and stuff she inherited from her parents’ estate and on and on.  It has literally been years since one of our vehicles actually fit inside it.

But her hoarding isn’t limited to stuff in our garage.  We live alone, just the two of us.  Two retired people probably need just one refrigerator, right?  We have three plus a full size upright freezer.  A big problem we’ve been having is that the freezers (the upright plus the three halves of the refrigerators) have been so full that we could buy no more frozen food.  But today Lynn got in the mood to clean them out.  These moods are rare so when they come I do what I can to assist.

I carried to the dump four huge garbage bags of discarded food, each weighing at least 75 pounds.  No lie, I’m sure she discarded 300 pounds of frozen food today.  Some had expiration dates going back to 2013.  Now we have room, at least for the time being.  Plus, she organized the freezer space well with all of the frozen pork on one shelf, beef on another, frozen vegetables in one of the refrigerator’s freezers, fruit in another, etc.  That, too, won’t last but I’m still celebrating where these appliances are as of today.

I can put up with her hoarding.  She NEVER pays too much for anything she buys.  But if something is on sale at a good price, she’s going to buy it.  Later she’ll worry about where to put it.  She has so many, many excellent character traits that this one is easy to overlook.

Today was Monday so it was my day to be Central’s treasurer.  It took me much longer than usual to get things done because there were some issues.  The first issue was that the volunteer list that Savannah has been using to remind people what their Sunday morning worship duties are is a different list from what I had posted on the website.  For example, once the website indicated that I was to do the Congregational Prayer.  But when she sent me the bulletin to post days before the service, someone else’s name was listed as giving the prayer.  So today I think we finally got the list straight and updated with the list that should last us until the end of the year.

But another problem came when I updated the church’s website using my Mac laptop.  On my computer (and my phone), all the updates posted just fine.  But on the old Windows computer I work on at Central, I could not get the browser to refresh the website so it continually posted the old, incorrect volunteer list.  I looked online and tried various things to fix this but left with it still unresolved.

Another issue was that the people who counted the offering this morning, John Myers and Bobbie Rosson, could not get the bank deposit to reconcile with each other or with the recording sheet we use to specify which accounts the deposits go into.  Since I was there, I pitched in and we finally got it right.  Today’s deposit was a huge one for Central since our endowment accounts pay once each quarter and today’s deposit had three of those endowment checks in it.

It would have had four checks but the last problem I had to deal with is that we were missing a check.  I had asked our endowment chairman to write Central a check from our Apportionment endowment so we could pay $3,000 to the United Methodist Conference toward our apportionments but that check was no where to be found.  I called him and he said his wife, Connie, had left it at the church.  After a lot of looking around, I found the check in a box near the floor of a closet as if it had fallen from its intended place.  Problem solved.

Tonight we had two more Fort Defiance High School summer league basketball games to go to.  Henry’s team had games against Turner Ashby and Staunton High Schools.  Gus was asked to play up on the varsity team, too, since there were some players out of town.  I don’t know how he had any energy to play because he went to a basketball camp at Eastern Mennonite University today from 8:30 – 4:30.  So did Freddie.

Henry’s team was missing three of its starters tonight.  They got hammered by both Turner Ashby and Staunton.  Henry had a fairly good second game against Staunton and was probably Fort’s leading scorer.  But it is fair to say that the team played poorly both games.  I’m just happy to see him (and Gus who saw some action as a reserve) on the court.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 12                 Infected                   Died

World             188,046,864           4,055,442

US                     34,765,501              623,022

Virginia                682,856                11,450

Augusta County       5,983                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,192,810  (4,415,707 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,792  (33,977 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

CNN reported that states that have fully vaccinated more than half of their residents reported an average of 2.8 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people each day last week, compared to an average of about 7.8 cases per 100,000 people each day in states that have vaccinated less than half of their residents.  Across the country, more than 99% of US Covid-19 deaths in June were among unvaccinated people, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  So tell me, other than pure stupidity, why are people not getting vaccinated?

July 13, 2021

Today was another tennis day, another day to be reminded about how slow and weak I’ve become, tennis wise.  I love the game and enjoy the guys I play with but it is really hard for me to live with playing badly.  When I play well, I am very steady and make few mistakes.  Not today.

I noticed how weak I had become two weeks ago when we were at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.  This museum has two floors of memorabilia above a basketball court with lots of rims around it, including a peach basket.  I noticed that when I shot free throws there it took extra effort to get the ball to the goal.  A free throw!  I used to be able to shoot three pointers with ease.

It was very hot when we played.  We started at 8:00 AM to avoid the heat as much as possible but by the time we quit, almost 10:00, it was in the mid 80’s.  The air conditioning of home felt good.

Seventy isn’t really that old by today’s standards, I know.  But I realize I’m getting old.  I still have the huge bruise on my leg from being hit by a tennis ball a week ago.  My right upper arm is still in pain after playing tennis as it has been for the past three months.  Lynn thinks my hearing is going.  I even sound like an old man.

Lynn had several things scheduled today including a massage our kids had given her for Mothers Day.  I didn’t and can rate this day as one of the most unproductive in ages. 

We went back to El Sol tonight with the Bauman’s.  Today was Ginny’s birthday so we went with them to celebrate on Taco Tuesday.  Our meal and conversations were very good.  When we got back, we continued chatting on the Pergola.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 13                 Infected                   Died

World             188,693,726           4,067,171

US                     34,807,813              623,435

Virginia                683,202                11,459

Augusta County       5,985                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,206,345  (4,416,640 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,845  (33,985 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

July 14, 2021

The last few days have been more than a little boring.  We don’t have any trips planned for six weeks, Lynn isn’t working for the school system during the summer, and we’ve got no school bus to meet after school.  As a result, our calendar has been quite empty for a change and both of us have had time on our hands.

I spent several hours on a project for Lynn’s birthday which I won’t describe yet.  I got the idea for it yesterday and did some prep work last night.  I was able to start and finish the entire project this morning and get it ordered so it will be here by her birthday.  For that I’m happy.  I hope she’ll like what I’ve done.  That’s not guaranteed.

Lynn called a peach orchard near Crozet, Chile’s Orchard, and found out that we could pick our own peaches there today.   So we enlisted Betsy to go along with us and we got probably 2/3 bushel of peaches.  We also ate some delicious peach ice cream while we were there today.

We haven’t had a good rain in weeks.  The grass is turning brown and the flowers are suffering, too.  Ordinarily rain puts me in a bad mood but it would be good to have a good dose of it here now.  I don’t want our well to have any issues.

A CNN headline today read:  Your Choice:  Vaccinated or Infected.  Well said.  The story goes on to say:   Currently about 59% of the US population has at least one dose and 48% is fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that doesn’t tell the full story. The United States cannot be painted with a single brush stroke, and nowhere is that more true than with this pandemic. As things stand now, the top five states have 60% or more of their population fully vaccinated versus less than 36% for the bottom five states…. Early data from a number of states suggests that 99.5% of those Covid-19 deaths during the first six months of the year have been in unvaccinated people. Just consider that if a patient in the United States is hospitalized or dies of Covid, 99 times out of 100 they are unvaccinated. Dying at this stage in the pandemic is almost like a soldier dying after a peace treaty has been signed. Heartbreaking and largely preventable.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 14                 Infected                   Died

World             189,113,217           4,073,561

US                     34,840,655              623,744

Virginia                683,614                11,467

Augusta County       5,984                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,219,894  (4,417,727 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,919  (33,990 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

The CNN article pointed out that the US had dropped to an average of less than 10,000 per day a few weeks ago but now, thanks to the unvaccinated and the Delta variant, the average is over 23,000 per day.  Another article said that every single hospitalized patient in Los Angeles was unvaccinated.

July 15, 2021

Another day of tennis which means another day of disappointment.  I know that much of this disappointment comes from the fact that I’m just getting older and can’t play at the level I played at 30 years ago.  I am not a power player, I am a steady player.  That means I expect to hit the ball in every time my racket strikes it.  On a good day for me, I may not hit many winners but I reliably return every shot in the court where I want it.  When I win, it is because of my opponents’ miscues not because of my power.  Today I won two of three sets which wasn’t bad.  I can remember many errors I made but not that many good shots I hit though, to be honest, there were a lot more good shots than bad ones.  I just tend to remember the bad ones.  I always have been like that.  And much of the reason I hit bad shots comes from my slow feet, not my arms.  I am certainly much slower than I used to be.

After playing for nearly two hours, I went to Central and paid some bills.  It was good to catch up.  I shouldn’t have to do more Treasurer’s work until next Monday.

Lynn made peach preserves today from the peaches we bought yesterday.  Yum!  They are my favorite.  I had some on bread for dinner dessert tonight.

She finished just in time to take her Venza to McDonough Toyota for its first oil change/check up.  No surprise, it passed all its tests with flying colors.

Tonight we went to Waynesboro for its weekly Groovin’ on the Greenway concert.  The group tonight was Everyday People, one we’ve heard before.  They were the most talented group we’ve heard at Waynesboro though I wasn’t too fond of their song selection.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 15                 Infected                   Died

World             189,695,883           4,082,564

US                     34,883,756              624,184

Virginia                684,054                11,471

Augusta County       5,977                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,237,096  (4,433,217 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,979  (34,044 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

The number of cases is definitely on the increase in the US thanks to the Delta variant and, most importantly, unvaccinated people.  As per CNN:  Vaccines have been available to most Americans for months, but still only 48.3% of the country is fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and the rate of new vaccinations is on the decline. It was down 11% from a week ago and is less than a quarter of the pace from two months ago.  Meanwhile, case rates have been going up dramatically. In 47 states, the rate of new cases in the past week is at least 10% higher than the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. A total of 35 states have seen increases of more than 50%.

July 16, 2021

Lynn and I are not spontaneous people when it comes to travel.  We both appreciate trips that are planned well in advance in detail.  But this morning Lynn commented that we had nothing on the calendar to do both today and tomorrow.  She asked what we could do and I suggested she revisit the thirteen items I originally suggested for her birthday.  She did and said that we should consider going to Shenandoah National Park tonight.  I checked and Big Meadows Lodge had a room available so spontaneous we became. 

In addition to my eye appointment I did a few errands before we left as did Lynn.  I did my weekly trash run and picked up some boards that Lynn’s friend Pat had donated for Jim to pick up sometime.  On my trash run to the Gutshall’s, Freddie showed me the two trophies he had come home from the EMU Basketball Camp with.  He was very proud of them as he should have been.

The drive to Big Meadows only took a little over an hour.  It was hot in the Valley, around 90o, but cooler on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Skyline Drive.  We were able to enter the park for free using our lifetime National Parks pass—a real bargain we purchased ten years ago.   We got to the park before 1:00 but check-in wasn’t until 4:00 so we decided to hike.  First, though, we ate a dessert in the lodge restaurant.  I had a delicious piece of blackberry cobbler topped with blackberry ice cream.  Lynn had a hot fudge sundae on a chocolate brownie.  Both were high in calories but we knew we’d walk some of them off.

There was an overlook featuring the Shenandoah Valley just 0.2 mile from the Lodge so we went there first.  We were given directions to three other hiking possibilities, two overlooks and one falls.  We chose the hike to Dark Hollow Falls. 

The first part of our hike was a one mile walk from the Lodge to the Visitor’s Center which took us back to Skyline Drive.  It was a paved, fairly shady hike.  Then we headed for Dark Hollow Falls.  The hike there was listed as a moderate hike, which means for old people like us it is a strenuous one.  Going down was bad enough, about a mile and including around a 800 ft. descent.  But it was worth it.  Despite the drought conditions we’ve been having, the falls were really quite pretty.  The walk there wasn’t easy but easier than the walk back.  I had to stop several times on the way up but we made it. 

We got back to the lodge and were able to check into our room.  Many of the rooms here at Big Meadows don’t even have air conditioning but ours did.  It felt good on such a hot day.  I had snuck into our cooler a few of the Smirnoff coolers which tasted mighty good after a long walk.  My watch said that we’d waked over 7 miles, around 16,000 steps.  Lynn had walked with her friend Pat while I had my eye appointment this morning so her total was over 9 miles for the day.  Not bad for two old people!

We were in our room before 5:00 and showered before dinner.  We checked the dinner menu out from our room then walked from our room to the lodge to enjoy a leisurely meal.  We were able to be seated outside on the deck overlooking the Shenandoah Valley.  It was a wonderful view.  But we were disappointed that the menu had changed from the one we previewed.  I ended up having a meat loaf dinner and Lynn had two appetizers, one flatbread and one fried green tomatoes.  The food was good, not great.  But the setting was wonderful.

We were both very tired by the time we got back to our room.  From some vantage points in this building where our room is the view of sunset was probably spectacular but not so much from ours.  That’s OK, we were exhausted.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 16                 Infected                   Died

World             190,250,695           4,090,953

US                     34,924,758              624,488

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,996                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,218,770  (4,514,468 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,835  (34,511 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

There were several apparent adjustments to the Virginia numbers today.  I guess the statisticians are making updates from new data. 

 

July 17, 2021

We finished our quick trip to Shenandoah National Park this morning.  We got up early only to realize that breakfast didn’t start until 7:30 so by that time we actually had almost everything loaded back in the Venza ready to come home.  Breakfast was like dinner—a little pricy and OK but not great.  I was somewhat disappointed with the food because if we had some out of town friends such as Paul and Sandy Porterfield or Mike and Jean Orbanosky come to town I had thought of taking them to SNP and eating a meal there.  Not sure we’d do that now.

The weather was very nice, though, so soon after breakfast we checked out of our lodging and drove about five miles north to Hawksbill parking lot.  From there, we took a path known as Upper Hawksbill Trail which was a 2.1 mile round trip hike listed as the easiest one in the list of trails.  I’ve learned that “easiest” doesn’t mean “easy.”  The trail had a 500+ foot ascent to the top of a mountain and though the path was gravel and in fine shape, it was a little taxing for two old people, especially me.   We stopped several times to catch our breath on the way up.  The view from the summit was worth the effort.  I got several pictures there.

Most everyone we saw at Shenandoah National Park was younger than we are.  There were lots of young families and young couples.  We were probably the only two in our age group who made either the “moderate” hike to the Dark Hollow Falls yesterday or today to the Hawksbill Summit. 

A story I saw on ABC news this past week said that a couple of brisk walks each week went a long way toward helping older people stay mentally alert.  We should be quite alert after the two hikes the past two days. 

On our way back we made two stops:  first at Costco to get a few food items, return some recalled sunblock, and pickup some contacts for Lynn’s friend Cheryl Wright.  Our second stop was at Overlook Produce where we got tomatoes and corn.  We were home before 1:00.

The afternoon was spent unpacking, doing picture work, and cleaning.  My wonderful wife made a peach pie for me which I greatly enjoyed for dessert at dinner and will enjoy for the next several days.  Our dinner consisted of hamburgers and French fries from the Old School Food Truck in Weyers Cave. 

With the boost from our morning hike, we both made our 10,000 step goal again today.  We considered going walking after dinner but a thunderstorm changed our minds. We badly needed that rain.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 17                 Infected                   Died

World             190,702,044           4,097,432

US                     34,952,809              624,711

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,976                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,218,770  (4,514,468 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,835  (34,511 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

The numbers for Virginia are no longer updated on the weekends so the numbers above match those from Friday.

July 18, 2021

I created a spreadsheet this morning listing the 63 National Parks.  We’ve been to 18 of them, I believe, and will be adding at least three more this fall:  Crater Lake, Arches, and Canyonlands.  Most are in the west so I doubt that we’ll get to more than half of them but it’s worth a try!  We also looked into traveling to Costa Rica in the future with the company we’ve used three times in the past, Caravan.  It’s fun to plan trips.

We discovered that Lynn’s passport will expire June 1, 2022 so we’re going to begin the renewal process this coming week since we’ve heard that there is a huge backlog in renewing them currently.  We won’t need our passports for the rest of this year but will need them if we want to travel out of the country in 2022.  She suggested that I renew mine with hers though mine doesn’t expire until 2024.

Today was a typical Sunday including morning worship services.  We had around 50 present.  After that we came back home then Lynn went shopping with Betsy and Ann.  I stayed home.  I got one chore done that needed to be done.  Last Friday before we left for Shenandoah National Park, our neighbor Larry Mezzoni was in his driveway.  He doesn’t stay in the house next to us so it was unusual for us to catch him.  We asked him if we could cut some of his shrubbery down which blocks our view as we leave our driveway.   He said to go ahead so today I did so.  Exiting our driveway is much easier now.

We didn’t do much the rest of the day except eat dinner then go to Gypsy Hill Park and walk a couple of laps.  I didn’t quite make 10,000 steps today but I bettered 9,000 and that was after two straight days of exceeding that goal.  Walking in Gypsy Hill Park is MUCH easier than walking in Shenandoah National Park!

At night, Lynn and I have been watching a show on Netflix that we enjoyed last year, Virgin River.  Its season 3 was just posted and we’ve watched about 5 episodes so far.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 18                 Infected                   Died

World             191,194,672           4,105,356

US                     34,963,439              624,746

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,976                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,246,155  (4,528,888 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        66,994  (34,586 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

The Virginia counts for COVID-19 infections and deaths didn’t change over the weekend though the vaccination counts were updated.

July 19, 2021

I’m in a routine now to do Central treasurer’s work on Monday mornings.  Today, Sam Richardson and I counted the offering from yesterday then made the bank deposit.   Then I did various QuickBooks tasks including setting up the payroll for the 31st of this month.  It took me until 11:00 to get everything done but I left with nothing unfinished.

Lynn and I decided to make a Harrisonburg run.  For the first time in over a year, the downtown Harrisonburg Wells Fargo Bank was opened.  That’s where our safety deposit box is so we made a stop there to retrieve our two passports plus the hard drive with the backup of all my important documents and pictures.  After a couple of shopping stops for Lynn, we came back home.

I spent a few minutes filling in the renewal documents for our passports.  As soon as we get new passport photos we can apply for our renewals. 

We’ve been having a recurring issue with our Dish network, especially involving the televisions in the kitchen and bedroom.  These two tv’s connect to the network via a wireless signal and it has been very unreliable.  So today I put in a trouble call and scheduled a visit from their technicians this coming Wednesday.  We have reset the wireless access point and wireless “Joeys” every day for weeks, maybe months.

Tonight were two more summer basketball league games.  Gus was asked to join Henry on the varsity for the games so we went to watch them play Stuarts Draft and Buffalo Gap.  We took Freddie with us.  FDHS didn’t play well in either game, losing to both teams.  Both games were fairly close but Fort shot the ball terribly and had lots of turnovers.  It wasn’t a lot of fun to watch.  Henry did well.  Gus didn’t play that much but did OK, too.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 19                 Infected                   Died

World             191,683,822           4,112,517

US                     35,013,136              624,967

Virginia                685,485                11,483

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,257,811  (4,535,143 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,020  (34,598 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

July 20, 2021

I know that if the biggest worry I have is how my forehands and backhands are landing on the court, I’ve got it made.  Today was a tennis day though the foursome was a little different:  Marc Kinder, Lewis Moore, Randy (don’t know his last name), and myself.  I did like the outcomes—whoever played with me won the set.  Yep, I was 3 – 0 and the others were 1 – 2.  As always, I didn’t overpower anyone but did manage to keep the ball in play for a few hits.

Lynn had her friends Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent over to chat this morning so when I got back from playing tennis I ran to Harrisonburg to get a few items for Lynn for her birthday this coming Sunday. 

This afternoon we went to Waynesboro so she could do some shopping.  I stayed in the car at the three stores she visited:  Loft, Michael’s, and Aldi’s.  It was a hot afternoon.  On our way back we stopped at Waynesboro’s CookOut restaurant where they featured 99¢ chocolate milkshakes. 

For dinner I grilled some steaks.  After dinner, we debated about walking again but the temperature was still above 85o.   But we went anyway, albeit just a little over a one mile walk by making two laps around the middle school walking trail.  It gave Lynn over 11,000 steps for the day and I ended up with around 9,000.

Thank goodness the technicians from Dish Network are coming tomorrow to (hopefully) fix our tv service.  The wireless connection to our kitchen and bedroom televisions is very unstable. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 20                 Infected                   Died

World             192,203,417           4,123,976

US                     35,076,925             625,244f

Virginia                686,206                11,487

Augusta County       5,996                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,268,303  (4,540,213 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,058  (34,616 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

July 21, 2021

We got our passport renewal applications in the mail today.  First we had to go to Walgreens in Verona and get new passport photos taken.  Then we had to package up everything and send them off to be processed.  We’ve heard some horror stories of people who have waited nearly six months to get theirs back so we wanted to get this done now.  We likely won’t be leaving the country until early 2022 when we may go to Costa Rica.  In mid-2022 we’ll be going to Portugal and Spain.

Today was an easy day for us.  Lynn walked with Ginny Bauman early in the morning then we got our passport photos taken.  After lunch the DISH repairman came and swapped out our wireless access point which hopefully will cure our connection issues.

As soon as he left, we headed for Costco where we had a long list of things for Central.  I had several custodial supplies to buy and Lynn had a list of things to buy for the funeral reception CUMC is having on Friday morning after Ann Spotts’ funeral.  We also stopped to buy tomatoes on the way from Overlook Produce.  From Costco we headed straight to Central where we dropped off the supplies and picked up food for Elizabeth’s family.  We took it to them before coming home for dinner.

After dinner, we drove to Waynesboro and walked a couple miles on the nice trail they have beside South River.  But the real reason we went there was to buy milkshakes at CookOut again.  They had their 99¢ chocolate milkshakes again and we got nine of them—one for Juan Pablo, one for each of us, and one for each of the Gutshall family.  When we got home Ann and Henry came over and picked theirs up.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 21                 Infected                   Died

World             192,787,141           4,141,890

US                     35,144,784              625,808

Virginia                686,884                11,491

Augusta County       6,000                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,282,258  (4,547,021 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,139  (34,660 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

July 22, 2021

I can’t explain why, but today I played the best tennis I have in 2021.  The weather was great and we started by 8:00 and played until 10:15.  We ended up playing four sets.  I won the first three and was up in the fourth before dropping it.  But for some reason, my shots went in today.  The other three guys, Won, Marc, and Pat, kept commenting on how this was my day.  I sure wish I could play like this every time.  My arm has hurt all summer long but today it hurt less which might be the real reason behind my success.  For whatever reason, I had much better control of the ball today.

I had called Lambert Plumbing on my way to tennis to see if they had gotten in the parts for the upstairs toilet.  I left a voice mail and they called back and said they could be here this morning to get it fixed.  Ordinarily, we’d be in no rush to have it repaired since no one uses it regularly but with Jim and boys coming next weekend it became a priority to have it working well.  By 11:00 they were here to get it fixed.  They were done in less than an hour.

After Lynn got home from walking with Ann and her family in Gypsy Hill Park, we went to Harrisonburg where we made a few stops.  We needed to get more chicken salad for tomorrow’s reception at Central but we needed a few items of our own so we also stopped at Kroger.  Then we went to the Sipe Center in Bridgewater and got tickets for all the Gutshall family plus Lynn and me to see the show In the Heights Friday night.  The show tickets were only $5.

After dinner, Lynn and I went back to Stewart Middle School to get our walking totals over 10,000.  I ended up with over 11,700 and she had over 13,000.  Not bad for two old people!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 22                 Infected                   Died

World             193,351,671           4,150,571

US                     35,204,523              626,157

Virginia                687,550                11,493

Augusta County       5,992                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,296,526  (4,553,535 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,242  (34,702 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

The number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing at an alarming rate.  According to ABC News, across the U.S., the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Health officials blame the delta variant and slowing vaccination rates. Just 56.2% of Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good thing about the so-called breakthrough cases, where a vaccinated person still tests positive for COVID-19, is that the severity of these cases is definitely less than with those who have not been vaccinated.

July 23, 2021

Lynn and I spent a good part of our day today working at the Ann Spotts funeral and reception at Central.  We were at the church before 8:30 and didn’t get home until almost 2:00.  She worked at preparing and serving the food for the reception.  I worked at getting a slide show with music to show during the funeral and again during the reception.  Then I ran the church dishwasher with all of the reception dishes.  We both worked very hard but didn’t mind since it was for a family we’ve known for years.

We then had an easy afternoon before grabbing our Friday night hamburgers from Old School food truck.  We had to eat early because we had purchased the tickets for the Sipe Center show, In the Heights, and needed to be at the theatre by 6:00 so we could find eight seats together.

In the Heights was two hours and twenty minutes of choreography, singing, and latino dancing.  Lynn loved it, of course.  The Sipe Theatre is a very nice venue.  After the show we went through the Dairy Queen drive-thru for treats.  It was a good night.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 23                 Infected                   Died

World             194,009,770           4,159,507

US                     35,283,050              626,658

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,311,533  (4,560,561 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,332  (34,745 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

The news has more stories today about how the recent great increase in COVID-19 cases is coming from the unvaccinated.  Yet ABC news reports that a survey indicated that those who aren’t vaccinated are dead set to not change their minds despite the outbreak.  How stupid can humanity be?  One story called this crisis a “self-inflicted wound.” 

July 24, 2021

Today was Saturday so, as usual, it began with a run to the dump for me.  Jim’s old truck, 1996 Ford Ranger, does just fine with this kind of duty.  This is one chore I don’t ever mind doing, especially since I can help Ann’s family out by getting their trash, too.

The Olympic games have begun now in Toyko despite COVID-19 running wild in that country.  There are no spectators and many have questioned why they’re still going on.  But it does give Lynn and me some good television to watch for the next few weeks.

Today at lunch time we met Elizabeth, Gilberto, Emily, and Nathan at a Mexican restaurant in Waynesboro, Los Panchos.  It was our first time there.  Though we both ordered off the lunch menu, the serving was very large.  Of course, I ate too much.  Our friends insisted on paying for lunch so I told them this was a nice birthday present for Lynn.  They didn’t know tomorrow was her birthday.  Immediately they told the restaurant staff about it being her birthday so they brought her an ice cream dessert and a half dozen or more sang to her (all in Spanish, of course).  It was a good lunch in many ways.  Elizabeth and Gilberto are starting a new cleaning business where they clean rental properties in Harrisonburg. 

Despite all we ate for lunch, we still went by CookOut for their 99¢ chocolate milkshakes.  We waited until we got home to eat them but that would be the last thing we’d eat today. 

Lynn had walked early this morning with Ginny Bauman but we both needed to walk after eating so much this afternoon so we went to Staunton and walked two laps around Gypsy Hill Park.   She got in 14,000 steps for the day but I barely made 9,000.

I heard a CNN reporter today strongly suggest that the federal government should require all its employees (which would include the military) to be vaccinated.  It makes good sense to me.  As it is now, lots of private businesses, colleges, and work places are having vaccination requirements.  Why not the federal government?  One drawback is that the FDA hasn’t fully approved the vaccines yet but I do know that Pfizer has submitted its vaccine to the FDA for full approval.  I think that once that happens, the government will have the muscle it needs to require it.  If state and local governments follow, many of the unvaccinated will have no choice if they wish to stay employed.

CNN reports that Canada has surpassed the US in the percentage of adults fully vaccinated now.  Polls there show that 86% of their adult population has or wants the vaccine as soon as possible.  Only 8% say they do not want it.  What’s the difference between Canada and the US?  Trump supporters, the article goes on to say.  Canada doesn’t have someone feeding their population bull the way Trump and his supporters have. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 24                 Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,329,584  (4,567,483 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,447  (34,791 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

Note that since this is the weekend, Virginia and Augusta County’s infection and death numbers have not been updated though the vaccinations have been.

Tomorrow is Lynn’s 69th birthday.  Birthdays are very special to her so I hope I’m prepared.

July 25, 2021

Birthdays have always been special for Lynn.  In my family, birthdays were significant but not that special.  So I had some learning to do over the years when it came to birthdays.  I’ve done much better now than I did at first.  Today I had four Hallmark cards for her, a set of Pandora earrings, and a photo book I created with 85 pictures from our travels over the years.  Plus, I had ordered an ice cream cake for her in her favorite flavor—Death by Chocolate.  I think she was very pleased.  I hope so. 

It has been years since I’ve given her a photo book.  For this one, each picture I found was just of the two of us and was taken on one of our trips.  On page 1, I wrote to her that the book was both incomplete and unfinished; incomplete since there were lots of trips we had taken for which we had no pictures of the two of us as a couple.  It was unfinished because we have lots more trips planned.

Today was Sunday so we went to Church.  There were around 40 in attendance today.  The Gutshall family was there except for Henry who has gone to a Young Life camp for a few days. 

After church we went to Kroger for some groceries and gas then came home.  Lynn chose to have dinner here instead of going out on her birthday. 

We made a quick run to Smiley’s to pick up her birthday cake.  She also got a Smiley’s gift card to give to her friend Carol with whom we’ll be eating tomorrow night.  They share the same exact birthday.  Every year we get together with Carol and her husband Shawn to celebrate.

We’ve watched a lot of the Olympics from Tokyo last evening and today.  It was disappointing to see the Americans lose their first basketball game to France.

Tonight Ann’s family (minus Henry) came over for dinner.  I had a good time playing outside with Freddie.  We rode bikes and played tennis.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 25                 Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,342,736  (4,573,127 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,507  (34,808 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

As has been the case for the last few weeks, the number of cases in Virginia were not updated over the weekend though the vaccinations were.

According to CNN, Dr. Fauci said today, “So it really is, as (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Dr. (Rochelle) Walensky has said many times and I have said, it is really a pandemic among the unvaccinated, so this is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we’re out there, practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated.” The warning from Fauci comes as the dangerous Delta variant of Covid-19 sweeps across the nation and health officials caution Americans to remain vigilant in preventing its spread. Every state in the US reported more Covid-19 cases in the week ending Friday than the week prior, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with the gravity of the situation evident from coast to coast.  Thirty states have yet to fully vaccinate at least half of their residents, according to the CDC. And as of Friday, the daily average of people becoming fully vaccinated was the lowest it had been since the end of January.

July 26, 2021

I spent a good deal of time today on Church finances, both at Central and at home.  It was Monday so my first job was to count the offering from yesterday and pay a couple of bills.  Ordinarily Sam Richardson helps me with this but he called to say he didn’t feel like making it in today so I got Savannah Garner to help.  It didn’t take long.

My work back here was to get items ready for the Finance Committee meeting tomorrow afternoon.  I also had to prepare a budget worksheet for 2022 so various committee chairs could make recommendations for it.

In the meantime, Betsy and Lynn went shopping then came back here to do some craft work.  What a good grandmommy Betsy has!

To help Ann and Josh out, we ended up taking Betsy and Gus to Josh’s office on our way to eat dinner at Millstreet Grill with our friends.  Ann had to take Betsy to choir practice and Gus had two basketball games tonight.

We missed Gus’ first game due to our dinner.  It turns out that FDHS won a thriller over Riverheads, 27 – 26.  Gus played a good bit and did well, according to Josh.  We made it for the second game where the competition was much better, Spotswood.  Fort got blasted 65 – 32.  Gus played some and made no mistakes unlike his teammates who committed turnover after turnover.  I think the team really missed the steading influence of Henry.  Plus, two other good players, Josh Jones and Kaden Johnson, weren’t there.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 26                Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                690,183                11,506

Augusta County       6,000                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,353,649  (4,577,793 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,538  (34,817 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

The Virginia and Augusta County numbers were updated today after remaining unchanged over the weekend.  It is unfortunate that another Augusta County resident died due to COVID.

I’ve been angry over those who are vaccine resistant.  Today I watched a heart-wrenching video and interview with an Arkansas physician who told how he is now treating many unvaccinated people in their twenties who are begging to be vaccinated now though it is too late.  He says he can see the remorse on their faces as their life slips from them.  Many have no pre-existing conditions, he said.

July 27, 2021

Today is Kay’s birthday, her 41st.  We didn’t have a chance to see her today but will this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday.  All we could do today was to send her an e-card.

My tennis game came back to earth today.  After playing so well last Thursday it was very frustrating to me to make the mistakes I did today.  Oh well, that’s the way it goes.  I did enjoy playing for two hours in the heat though I lost two of the three sets I played.  The scores were all close.

I spent more time today doing work for Central, mainly getting ready for the Finance Committee meeting we had via Zoom this afternoon.  Central’s finances aren’t in terrible shape but neither are we doing well in several areas.  Our investments and bank balances are high but we’ve paid embarrassingly little toward the Conference apportionments.

Lynn is going on a mini-trip with her sister Kay to Asheville tomorrow.  They’re only going to be away for one night.  She did a few things today to get ready for her trip since they will be leaving early.

I spent some time today watching the Congressional Hearings on the January 6 insurrection.  Lots of videos were shown.  There’s no way anyone can view those videos and say that what happened was not an armed insurrection.  Yet there are still Republican congressmen who say that this was a peaceful protest and a former president who said the people were full of love.  If that’s your definition of love, then should I be beating Lynn with a baseball bat to show her I love her?

Tonight I had a Central Council meeting.  As usual, I was the secretary for the meeting with my goal of getting the minutes immediately after the meeting closed.  Although the meeting was very similar to previous meetings, at the end of the meeting Won announced that our Administrative Assistant, Savannah Garner, had resigned as of today.  I have no idea what precipated that.

The CDC is now saying that, due to the spread of the Delta variant, all Americans, both vaccinated and not, should wear masks indoors if they live in high infection places.  Likewise, schools are requested to have all students wear masks, vaccinated or not.  I don’t see that happening.  In fact, I’m not sure I am going to take this advice.  For one thing, our area is not one of those experiencing dramatic new cases.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 27                 Infected                   Died

World             195,922,184           4,192,177

US                     35,343,829              627,379

Virginia                691,018                11,515

Augusta County       6,009                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,364,291  (4,581,600 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,593  (34,846 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

July 28, 2021

Today was a very unusual day for me because I spent it by myself.  Lynn left before 7:30 to go to Asheville with her sister Kay.  They called around 12:30 that they had made it safely.  They’ll have a good time shopping, eating, and chatting.  Good for them!

I did a minimum number of chores today.  First I took our trash to the dump with a stop at the Gutshall’s to get theirs, too.  Then I stopped and got gasoline for my lawn mower though I decided to wait a day or more to mow.  I haven’t mowed in three weeks now but some places in the yard still don’t need to be cut.  The lack of rain has really stunted its growth though we did get a very loud thunderstorm last night around 11:00 pm.  We even lost power for a while due to the storm.

I also spent a good bit of time trying to get the keypad to work to open our garage doors.  I was on the phone with tech support for over a half hour.  They finally decided that it was defective and would be sending a replacement.  They did ask that I send to them a copy of the receipt for the doors and accessories.  I couldn’t come up with that immediately so I called Overhead Doors in Harrisonburg who offered to print a new one if I could pick it up.

So, this afternoon I did just that.  Plus, I made three other stops.  First I went by CC Rosen & Sons and got another estimate for tires on my Civic.  I had previously gotten a couple of estimates from Rice Tire in Verona.  I also went to Wells Fargo and withdrew money for Kay’s birthday card and went to Aldi’s to get some groceries.

I am still disappointed that Savannah Garner quit her job as administrative assistant at Central.  This will just mean more work for me after she leaves until we can get someone else hired.  And, who knows what the quality of the next hire will be?  I e-mailed both her and Won and asked them what was up and both replied.  Savannah said she felt underappreciated by Won and he complained about her lack of skills.  Frankly, her skills were better than at least two of the past four we’ve had in that seat.  What really disappointed me is that Savannah said that Sybille Jobin, head of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, had offered to mediate between Won and her and she agreed to that but Won wouldn’t.  So, in two weeks, I’ll be doing double duty as the unpaid treasurer.  Won has had at least five administrative assistants since he came here.  I like him a lot as a person but he must be really hard to work for/with.

This evening I heated up some pork barbecue from Central for dinner.  I put it on some leftover bread heels Lynn had brought home from the Spotts reception.  Ann brought over some cole slaw that she had an excess of which I added to the sandwich along with a fresh slice of tomato.  Yum!  Plus I warmed up a tomato casserole that Lynn had made a few nights ago.  I ended my solo dinner by slicing two fresh peaches and covering them with vanilla ice cream.  Delicious!

I’ve spent my spare time today looking at cnn.com and getting upset over the Republicans’ reactions to the testimonies of the capitol police yesterday about the January 6 riot.  Some of them are still downplaying and ignoring the event.  I guess they have good reason—it was their leader who incited it.  He and everyone else responsible needs to be subpoenaed to testify before the nation about the insurrection.  Of course, the problem with that scenario is that he will repeatedly lie as he does all the time.

I’m also getting riled that mask mandates are returning.  Why are those of us who got vaccinated being punished because nearly 50% of the public won’t get vaccinated?  Just 57.6% of Americans age 12 and up are fully vaccinated.  The only light at the end of the tunnel is that as fast as the Delta Variant is spreading, many of them will get COVID-19 and die from it so there will be eventually be a good majority of us left who are vaccinated.

Thanks to the Delta variant and stupid people who won’t get vaccinated, here are today’s rising COVID-19 statistics:

July 28                 Infected                   Died

World             196,627,286           4,202,565

US                     35,475,873              628,083

Virginia                692,105                11,522

Augusta County       6,019                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,379,557  (4,588,021 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,677  (34,870 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

July 29, 2021

I played nearly two and a half hours of tennis this morning with Won Un, Lewis Moore, and Marc Kinder.  I played OK and won two of the three sets we played.  The one I lost was in a tie breaker. 

Despite all that exercise, I still had enough energy this afternoon to weed whack around the yard then cut the entire yard in the heat.  I wanted the yard to look good for Jim and his boys when they come tomorrow.

Lynn drove back from Asheville today.  I-81 was no friend.  At one point Google Maps said it would take her nearly two hours to drive from Lexington to home which is normally a 45 minute drive.  There were two stoppages on I-81; a brush fire near Greenville and a major tractor trailer wreck near Staunton.   Fortunately, by the time she got to Staunton traffic was somewhat back to normal.  I kept her informed throughout the day.  She got here around 5:00 pm.

Today President Biden took a firm stand that I agree fully with.  He is now requiring all federal employees to be vaccinated or submit to regular testing.  On July 24 I wrote about this idea and backed it 100%.  In his speech, he laid out a reasonable and factual argument for why all eligible Americans should be vaccinated.  I wish all citizens would listen to him.  He spoke the truth and he said it well.  GET VACCINATED!  He even called on states to give $100 to everyone currently unvaccinated who would roll up their sleeves for the shots.  Unfortunately, as ABC reported, the US is experiencing about the same number of new cases per day as it did a year ago.  The deaths and hospitalizations are down but not the infections.

We met Wes and Ann Ford at Smiley’s tonight for ice cream and stayed and talked with them for a good while afterwards. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 29                 Infected                   Died

World             197,305,800           4,213,045

US                     35,577,109              628,468

Virginia                693,206                11,525

Augusta County       6,026                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,394,739  (4,594,135 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 71.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,814  (34,931 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

July 30, 2021

Today was a big day in our lives as grandparents.  Jim brought Coen and Faron this afternoon and they spent the night with us.  Coen is 4 and Faron is 6.  This is the first night they have ever spent away from their mother.  It is the first time they have stayed at our house in years. 

He picked then up from their summer camp at the YMCA in Roanoke then drove here, arriving just before 4:00.  They played at our house for a little while then got their swimming suits on and met Ann and her family at Westside Pool in Staunton.

It was a fine evening.  The weather couldn’t have been better.  Lynn and I arrived at Westside about an hour later.  We came with lots of lemonade and pizza.  The kids swam, ate, then swam and swam more.  The low and high diving boards were a big hit.  All six of the grandchildren made scores of trips up the diving boards’ ladders then into the pool.  All of them are good swimmers.

Coen and Faron were actually excited to sleep in Jim’s old bed.  I know they were tired from a long and busy day and hoped they would sleep well despite being absent from their mother.

Of course, I took lots and lots of pictures and will take even more tomorrow when we have the big family picnic at Jane and Darrell’s house in Swoope.

Lynn and I began the day by walking at Gypsy Hill Park.  It was nice to get 6,000 steps in before 9:00 AM.  Then we went to Aldi’s to get a few groceries.   When we got back here, Lynn began working on a project Kay had given her for Thomas’ birthday party—personalizing 17 water bottles with kids’ names using her Cricut machine.  It didn’t take long for her to do her job; what took a long time was getting Kay to agree on the font, size, orientation, etc.

This afternoon we didn’t do much except wait for Jim, Faron, and Coen to come.  It was so exciting to have them visit.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 30                 Infected                   Died

World             197,963,690           4,223,253

US                     35,688,204              628,933

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,413,936  (4,602,156 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 72.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        67,894  (34,975 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

July 31, 2021

Today was a landmark day with our grandchildren playing together for about seven hours.  The weather was beautiful for the birthday party at Jane and Darrell’s.  Here’s a list of those who came:  Jane, Darrell, Sally, Ray, Owen, Bowman, Lee, Kay, Donna, David C., David M., Bill, Sandy, Jenny, Adam, Tommy, Luke, Janie, Lynn, Ann, Josh, Henry, Gus, Betsy, Freddie, Kay, Thomas, Georgia, Jim, Faron, Coen, and me.  Wow, thirty two members of the Hanger family!

The cousins all played together so well.  The slip & slide was a big hit.  They also played corn hole, volleyball, badminton, and chased each other with water guns and balloons.  I have lots of pictures of smiling kids and parents.

There was a ton of food there, too.  There was so much that Lynn and I didn’t want anything for dinner tonight though I did eat a piece of leftover pizza which made me sick at my stomach.  Yuck!  Kay, Thomas, and Georgia had to leave around 8:00 since they were driving back to Arlington tonight.  Ann and family ordered food from Chicano Boy which they ate here. 

The kids played outside so much on the tennis court and on the playground.  They rode bikes and played tennis and basketball.  I’ve written before that Lynn and I have wanted our back yard to be a place the grandchildren wanted to come to.  This evening showed that we succeeded.

We gave Faron and Coen a shower then they got to bed after a long and playful day.  We really want them to have good memories of coming here.

This morning we played outside with them, too.  Faron’s lack of fear of hurting himself scares me at times like today when he climbed on top of the swing set and later climbed high in the maple tree.   Meanwhile, Coen loved playing basketball despite the fact that the 8’ goal was a little high for him.  He was able to make some using a small ball and shooting “granny” shots.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 31                 Infected                   Died

World             198,547,026           4,232,892

US                     35,745,024              629,315

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,430,335  (4,608,696 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 72.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        67,997  (35,021 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

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

June 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

June 1, 2021

With yesterday a holiday, today seemed like Monday all day though it was Tuesday.  I started the day with tennis at Mary Baldwin.  Today was Rob Cale’s last time playing for eight months as he will undergo knee replacement on both knees starting next week.  Today Rob played as did Marc Kinder and a new player to us, Randy Simmons.  As always, we played a set with each possible partner.  I played OK for me and won two of the three sets I played.  I am definitely feeling better about playing tennis now that I’m playing twice weekly.  My arm still hurts while serving and aches for a day or so afterwards but perhaps it is a little better.  I’m playing again on Friday.

After tennis, I went to Central and did some treasurer’s work.  Sam Richardson and I counted the offering from Sunday and made the deposit at the bank.  I paid several bills and left shortly after noon.

On the way home, I called Lynn who suggested that I meet her at Walgreen’s in Verona because she was going to the Waynesboro Walmart to get the iPad Jim had asked us to pick up for Faron’s birthday this Friday.  We left my car at Walgreens and were successful in getting the iPad for Faron.  Later in the day we made plans with Jim for me to bring it to him at his school tomorrow at 3:45 when he gets out of school.

When we got home, Lynn wanted to walk so we did our usual two mile walk.  It was rather hot by the time we walked, around 80o.  I was tired from tennis but managed to do the hike with her without any new aches or pains.

We ate dinner early because her former student Ceci had a soccer game in Waynesboro tonight.  The weather was pleasant so we enjoyed watching her play one of her last games of the season.  Spotswood lost to Waynesboro 1 – 0.

This morning, before I left for tennis, I did some more picture work including backing up my most recent picture album (Memorial Day at Crabtree Falls) to a couple of places.  I also selected 27 of the 102 photos from that album to duplicate to my Favorite Pictures folder.  The Favorite Pictures folder is what my computer randomly selects photos from to display whenever my computers (laptop or desktop) go in the screen saver mode.  I’ve got nearly 55,000 pictures in all and have selected right at 9,000 of them as my Favorites Pictures.  So whenever the screen saver clicks in I enjoy watching the random photos, often five or six at a time.   They all bring back good memories.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

June 1                  Infected                   Died

World             171,914,540           3,575,480

US                     34,136,738              610,432

Virginia                675,597                11,194

Augusta County       5,903                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,205,846  (3,793,971 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

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

June 2, 2021

Lynn had several things on her agenda today but I had none so I began the day by staining the new steps Jim had built for the kids’ playground.  That didn’t take long.  Then I went to Central to do some first-of-the-month treasurer’s duties.  It took me nearly two hours to get everything done.  There were the usual monthly bank reconciliations, bills to be paid and mailed, monthly reports to be completed, and a tax form Won asked me to complete.

Afterwards I came home and ate a quick lunch.  Next I drove to Roanoke to take the iPad to Jim for Faron’s 6th birthday.  I left early and that was good because when I got just north of Roanoke traffic was stopped on I-81 due to a vehicle fire just south of Roanoke.  I ended up getting off at the Hollins exit and went a back way to Patrick Henry High School.  But I got there in plenty of time and soon Jim met me in the parking lot.  I’m glad to have gotten the iPad to him so Faron will get it on his birthday on Friday.

The trip back was uneventful.  I got home just after 5:30.  Soon Lynn was back from her Physical Therapy and we headed to Harrisonburg for dinner at Vito’s.  We hadn’t eaten indoors at the Vito’s on Port Republic for well over a year.  Lynn noticed that they had a senior special on Wednesday night; she ordered a full order of bucatini, which she had been looking forward to eating, and I got a free senior-size spaghetti and meat sauce.  I also ate a salad and we both ate their garlic knots.  It was a good and cheap meal for us.  And it felt good to be eating out again.  The restaurant was packed.

After dinner we made two quick errand stops then came home.  On the way, we called Ann and told her that the forecast of rain tomorrow makes us cancel our plans of taking some of her kids to Monticello.  We’ll do it another day.  She suggested that Betsy and Freddie might still want to come over to our house tomorrow.  Betsy could help her with a 4th of July porch sign and Freddie and I could play more Wii baseball.  I don’t mind getting beat!

We have a puzzle to solve.  Lynn fills one of our bird feeders up every morning.  She has to because it is empty when we get up.  When we go to bed at night, it is virtually full.  So something bigger than a blue jay is getting into our bird feeder but we don’t know what.  The feeder is suspended by a cable and couldn’t support a large animal crawling on it, but I’d believe that deer would knock it to the ground so we’re both unsure what is happening to this feeder overnight.  Tonight we’re going to leave the back porch light on to deter hungry visitors.  It may get to the point where we have to bring it in at night.

Over the last few months we’ve had several things at our house fixed.  We got the garage doors replaced and all the windows in the house replaced with easy-to-open vinyl ones that will never need painting.  But as nice as these two changes are, I really appreciate that Greg Lambert of Lambert Plumbing fixed the drain in our shower so that water doesn’t back up anymore.  That one worried me for months.  It’s nice to have a functional home.  I’m sure there will be other issues in the future, though.

President Biden has said that he wants 70% of American adults vaccinated by July 4.  Twelve states have already exceeded this and Virginia is at 67%.  No surprise, the states that are not even at 50% are the southern Republican states.  Why should getting vaccinated be political?  It makes no sense.

Here are today’s COVID-19 stats:

June 2                  Infected                   Died

World             172,401,053           3,705,830

US                     34,153,469              610,992

Virginia                675,783                11,206

Augusta County       5,908                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,230,004  (3,808,074 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        61,977  (30,668 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there; he gets his second shot Friday evening.)

June 3, 2021

Our mystery is solved!  We suspected that some animal was getting into our bird feeder so we left the lights on outside last night hoping it would deter the critter.  As usual, I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  When I did, I glanced on the back porch and could see a ringed tail sticking up in the air.  The culprit was a raccoon!  It climbed on top of our brick rail and plunged its head into the bird feeder, leaving only its tail sticking up.  I tried to take pictures of it but it was too dark.  When I attempted to open the back door to get a good picture, it ran off in front of the door so I got a good look at it.  It was a small to medium sized raccoon.

We talked last night and this morning about how to fix this issue.  I felt sure I could trap it since I knew what bait would work well.  But what would I do with it once I trapped it?  Lynn thought about greasing the pole that supports the feeder.  Then I came up with an idea of putting an extra chain on the feeder which lowers it, hopefully to a height that the raccoon can’t reach and still maintain his feet on our bricks.  We’ll see how it goes tonight.

Since our Monticello trip was canceled due to the weather forecast we decided to invite Freddie and Betsy over today.  Before we picked them up we did a few odd jobs.  First we went to Aldi’s and got a few groceries.  Then I painted a second coat of redwood stain on the steps Jim had built for the playground. 

We picked up the kids around 10:30 and kept them until 3:30.  Lynn had Betsy help her with a porch sign she’s working on for July 4, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day.  Freddie and I played Wii and played some iPad games involving math and language arts.  We fixed lunch for them and afterwards walked our regular two mile hike.  The rain didn’t come until 3:00.

While the kids were here I enjoyed watching the JMU softball team play in the College World Series.  They were unranked and pitted against the top team in the nation, Oklahoma.  But they pulled out a 4 – 3 win in extra innings.  It was a great win for JMU.

After dinner tonight Lynn and I went to Waynesboro.  This being Thursday night, Waynesboro had its weekly outdoor concert scheduled.  The group playing this week was called Little Walter and the Convictions.  A group with musicians similarly aged to us, we had heard them before but I thought they sounded much better tonight than in the past.  They played music from the 1960’s and early 70’s.  And as usual, Lynn bumped into some friends of hers in the crowd.  She knows so many people and never forgets names!  In addition to going to this concert, we also went to Target to get a birthday present (gift card) for Emily Aguirre Jiminez. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

June 3                  Infected                   Died

World             172,866,909           3,716,337

US                     34,173,772              611,568

Virginia                676,041                11,216

Augusta County       5,919                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,267,995  (3,829,532 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        62,144  (30,751 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there; he gets his second shot Friday evening.)

It is good to see the US get its daily number of infections under 20,000.  That still seems like a huge number but is a fraction of what it was six months ago when we had over 120,000 new cases in one day.  Nearly all of the new infections are from unvaccinated people, of course.

June 4, 2021

The raccoon battle continues.  Last night, while we were asleep, the raccoon apparently climbed out on the lowered feeder and somehow dislodged it from the hook where it hung.  It fell to the ground and broke.  Grrrr!  So today I went to the shed and got two traps out.  Tonight we’ll attempt to capture this thief and give him a new home, miles away, tomorrow.

Today was tennis playing day.  The way I play tennis ends up affecting my mood for the entire day.  Today’s mood wasn’t so good.  I hit good backhands and decent forehands but my serve and net play were downright poor.  Won Un and I played against Marc Kinder and Lewis Moore.  We only played one set but it took nearly 90 minutes.  Won and I lost 12 – 10.  I lost my serve the last four times I served which I would never do on a good serving day.  Oh well, it’s only tennis.  The company was good and we did have some good points.  My backhand was probably the best it has been all year so I need to remember those shots and forget the many volleys I hit out.

After tennis, I came home and we awaited Jim to Facetime us since today was Faron’s 6th birthday.  We’ve ordered a present for him but found out today that it won’t be here until next Thursday.  So we settled for a Facetime call.  It was fun to chat with him, Coen, and Jim on his new iPad.  Jim had purchased a new, durable case for the iPad this morning.

After the call and lunch, Lynn and I went to Central.  While I prepared two bills to be mailed, Lynn filled a box of food for Juan Pablo.  Soon we were headed to Waynesboro where she gave him and food and made arrangements to help him with his schoolwork next Tuesday.  He is going to summer school.

When we got back here, despite the fact that it was hot we took our usual two mile walk. 

Lynn is so talented and good hearted.  Today she cut a watermelon so the one side of it says EMILY and the other 12.  Tomorrow is Emily Aguirre Jiminez’s 12th birthday and we’re going to her house for her birthday.

We’re celebrating today because Gus just got his 2nd Pfizer vaccine today.  Hooray!  Now all adults in our family and our two oldest grandchildren have been vaccinated.  Perhaps soon the CDC will give its go-ahead to vaccine younger children.  I hope so.

After our usual Friday night dinner from Old School burgers, we headed to Riverheads to watch the Fort Defiance – Riverheads soccer game.  Henry started as a forward tonight and it wasn’t long before he had a nice assist to set up a score.  Soon he scored himself.  Then he sat out for a long time as the coach got other players some action.  When he came back in he played on defense.  FDHS didn’t have too much trouble with Riverheads and won 7 – 2.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 4                  Infected                   Died

World             173,299,543           3,726,665

US                     34,191,157              612,197

Virginia                676,300                11,222

Augusta County       5,935                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,301,436  (3,848,284 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 67.6% of the adult population.)                                  

            Augusta County        62,387  (30,907 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

June 5, 2021

We have one less raccoon in our neighborhood now.  When I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I saw that we had trapped the raccoon that has been eating our bird seed.  So before breakfast this morning I loaded the trap up in the back of my truck and took the varmit about 6 miles away.  It wasn’t easy because the raccoon was not happy about being in the trap.  It would certainly have bitten me if I hadn’t been very careful.  I had thought lots about how to release it safely and my plan worked.  If this one comes back or other raccoons empty the bird feeder again I might come up with a plan B to get rid of it, though.  This wasn’t fun.  At least it was easy to catch with a little bird seed as the bait in the trap.

Today we had multiple events with former students of Lynn’s.  First, we were invited to Cecilia’s photo shoot at Bridgewater.  Cecilia is graduating from Spotswood High School.  She has been close to Lynn since her days at Cub Run Elementary School.  Lynn and I have watched her play several soccer games this year for Spotswood.  She will be attending VCU this coming fall.  She invited Lynn to the photo shoot so they could have their picture made together.  Isn’t this quite a tribute to Lynn!

I need to reiterate how impressive this was.  Cecilia hasn’t had Lynn as a teacher for at least 7 years.  At the photo shoot today was her mother, father, sister, brother, her best friend from Spotswood High, an aunt and a couple of cousins.  All were Hispanic.  The only paleskin person in any of the photos was Lynn (it didn’t make sense for me to be in them).   What a difference Lynn must have made in her life and in many, many others at Cub Run Elementary School. 

After the photos were taken the entire group went to a Mexican restaurant in Harrisonbug, El Sol.  It was our first time there but it won’t be our last.  Cecilia’s father, who speaks very good English, told us it was by far the best Mexican restaurant in town.  I now know he was correct.  The quacamole on the homemade chips was fantastic.  Lynn and I each had tacos made on homemade tortillas.  They were great.  We’ll go back to this restaurant again.

The family insisted on paying for our lunch.  Though the father has a good job as a truck driver and the mother works also, I know they don’t have extra money especially with Cecilia’s college expenses coming up.  Plus, their son, in Pre-School, is a high needs child.  But they insisted.  What an excellent family!

We went from that fine Hispanic family to another.  Emily Aguirre Jiminez’s 12th birthday party was at her house.  We were told to come after 3:00 and got there around 3:45.  Actually, we were the second ones to arrive; over the next hour there must have been 25 more people who came.  I don’t know how they had set up everything—multiple tents with tables and chairs, two huge blow-up jump houses for the kids, one with a pool at the bottom of a slide out of it.  The kids there, around 12 – 15 of them, had a blast.  Elizabeth and Gilberto cooked hamburgers and hot dogs.  Others brought more items to eat including Lynn’s watermelon with the rine spelling out EMILY and 12. 

Once again we were the ones easy to spot in the crowd—nearly everyone else was Hispanic with a few exceptions.  And once again we were in the presence of a loving family, the second one today which had abandoned their family and way of life in Mexico in order to seek a better life for their children here in America.  I just wish all of those who complain about immigration could have been with us today with these two families.  Both of them were more than gracious to us and both exemplified a tight-knit, close family. 

We stayed at the party until around 5:30 then quickly headed to Costco before it closed.  Lynn is going to an unusual celebration at Cub Run Elementary this coming Monday morning—the current graduating seniors at Spotswood High School who attended Cub Run for their elementary school are going to visit and parade through the school on Monday.  Lynn came up with the idea of handing out a cookie to each of her former students in a sealed bag with a note inside that says “You’re a smart cookie!  Congratulations for your accomplishment.  Mrs. Hill”

At Costco tonight we bought the chocolate chip cookies for this.  Plus we got more birdseed—no surprise we need more since the raccoon ate so much of it.

We’ve made arrangements with Kay to meet their family at Thomas’ soccer game tomorrow in Arlington at noon.  We’re just going up for the game and coming right back since he has a team party afterward.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 5                  Infected                   Died

World             173,698,523           3,735,559

US                     34,203,497              612,194

Virginia                676,586                11,229

Augusta County       5,947                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,339,271  (3,871,196 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 67.8% of the adult population.)                                  

            Augusta County        62,633  (31,104 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

June 6, 2021

We elected to skip Sunday School and Church today so we could see Thomas play in his last soccer game of the year in Arlington.  We left home around 9:15 and the GPS originally said we’d be there by 11:35.  His game started at noon.  But as we got near to Washington we were re-routed off I-66 onto US 50 due to a wreck on the Interstate.  That really slowed us down and we got there just as the game started.

It was over 90o and humid.  We had a shady set of bleachers to sit on but the poor 10 and 11 year olds playing didn’t.  Thomas’ team looked a little lackluster probably due to the heat and they lost something like 7 – 1.  That’s OK; my grandchildren don’t have to win at anything in order for me to be proud of them.  I was impressed that he ran and played hard in such heat.  Plus, we had good conversations with the rest of the Foy family during the game so it was a worthwhile trip.

His team had a party afterwards so Lynn and I immediately came back home.  Our trip back was better with no slow-downs on the interstate.  We stopped at Aldi’s in Harrisonburg to buy a few groceries for tonight’s meal.

As soon as we got home we started cooking.  That is, Lynn started cooking and I did various other chores.  We both worked right up until 5:15 when Ann’s family came.  Actually they were one short as Henry had gone to a friend’s house.  We had a great meal.  Lynn had fixed chicken baked with parmesean cheese, a salad, rice, Spanish rice for those who wanted it, and corn cooked with green chilies.  Plus she made rolls.  We all ate well.

Lynn and Betsy worked on her patriotic porch sign for a little while afterwards.  Freddie and I played a game of baseball on the Wii.  Ann and Josh ordered an Easy Pass for our upcoming New England trip and Lynn and I updated the money on ours.  That will make traveling in New England much easier.   We also ordered tickets for Betsy’s Lion King Jr. show on Sunday, June 27.

The COVID-19 story is that infections are down but so is the vaccination rate.  Some people still are too stupid to get vaccinated.  Here are today’s statistics:

June 6                  Infected                   Died

World             174,034,257           3,743,188

US                     34,210,226              612,363

Virginia                676,741                11,236

Augusta County       5,950                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,340,878  (3,872,260 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 67.8% of the adult population.)                                  

            Augusta County        62,633  (31,104 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)  These statistics have not been updated since yesterday.

June 7, 2021

Today was a hot, typical Monday for us.  In the morning, Lynn had the graduation event I wrote about on Saturday where Spotswood High School seniors who had attended Cub Run Elementary School paraded through the elementary school hallways.  She went to congratulate the ELL students she had taught in Kindergarten who were now graduating.  She and I had packaged cookies for each of them.  While she did that, I went to Central and got a lot of treasurer’s work done including paying and mailing bills, doing the deposit from yesterday, setting up the June 15 payroll, and paying the monthly taxes to the IRS.  It was a fruitful time for me.

We both got home at a similar time.  It was fairly hot out, over 80o, Connie was here cleaning the house, and we both wanted to walk, so we started out on our normal walk.  At the one mile walk, we decided to continue on Leaport Road and do the full Leaport Loop which is a hilly 3.7 mile hike.  We made it, though we were both sweaty and tired by the time we got back home.  We both got our 10,000 steps in today.

To celebrate, we went to Smiley’s for a lunch dessert.  I had my usual, salted caramel chocolate chunk, while Lynn had a milkshake of brownie batter.  She was especially happy about that.

When we got back, we did some planning for our weekend.  We’re going to be in Delaware for Saturday and Sunday nights.  We’ve been through Delaware before but never spent any time there so we thought this would be a good place to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary.  We’ve found some ice cream creameries, restaurants, and various things to do in Lewes DE and the neighboring Rehobeth Beach.  We’re really not beach people but I think we’ll enjoy this stay.  We should be able to see the Foy family going to and/or coming back from there.

Tonight Henry had his last home soccer game of the season.  He has games on Wednesday and Friday nights, too, but they are away.  Gus would have had his last one tonight, too, but he’s still on the injured list.  There’s a chance he’ll play Friday night.  The game tonight was against Stuarts Draft, a team they handled fairly easily earlier in the season.

It turned out to be a fantastic game for Henry.  Tonight was senior night so the coach benched Henry and the FDHS top scorer, Luke Alger, so the seniors could start.  He kept them on the bench for the first 30 minutes of the 40 in the first half.  Obviously the team missed them because they fell behind 1 – 0 during this time.  Finally he put them in and in what seemed like no time, Henry banged in a hard shot from the side to even the score 1 – 1 then Luke followed with one to make it 2 – 1 at the half.

The half turned out to be nearly an hour long due to lightning in the surrounding skies.  For a while it seemed doubtful that the game would continue.  But finally the teams emerged back on the field and the second half was started. 

Henry is a sophomore and Luke is a freshman.  They were the only two to score for Fort Defiance tonight but both scored a bunch.  Luke had five goals in all; Henry had a hat trick, three.  Stuarts Draft didn’t even come close to scoring so the final score was 8 – 1.  It was a great night to be a grandfather.  After Henry’s third goal the coach pulled him out again so he really only played less than 25% of the game.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 7                  Infected                   Died

World             174,370,325           3,751,893

US                     34,227,237              612,701

Virginia                676,831                11,245

Augusta County       5,950                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,402,939  (3,912,673 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 68.1% of the adult population.)                                  

            Augusta County        62,765  (31,192 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 8, 2021

The days are getting hotter and hotter earlier in the day.  I played tennis today with Marc Kinder, Won Un, and Pat Peason.  We started at 8:30 and played until nearly 10:30. We only got in two sets because both were close, 8 – 6 and 6 – 4.  I won one and lost one.  But I guess I played OK so that’s what matters.  It felt good at first but by the end it was very hot, perhaps in the 80’s.

After I played I met with Yi-Peng Chen at Central who showed Won and me how to live stream the services on Facebook using the Church’s iPad.  It seems simple enough.  I won’t be there to help this coming Sunday but will be there on June 20.  The only treasurer’s work I had to do while I was at CUMC was to mail a check I had written previously.  In the meantime, Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over for chatting in our back yard.

Lynn was supposed to tutor Juan Pablo this afternoon at the Waynesboro Public Library but he backed out, saying he didn’t feel well.  She’ll try again tomorrow afternoon.

We both voted today in the Democratic Primary.  The Democrats need to put forward the best anti-Trump candidates they can because there are still too many Republicans out there listening to that idiot claiming that the election was stolen from him.  Some even claim he’ll be reinstated in August!  There’s no way ever that will happen.

With our afternoon plans void, we invited Betsy and Freddie over.  Lynn and Betsy have been working on the Americana porch sign.  I believe they finished it today.  Freddie and I had our usual games of Wii baseball with me coming out the loser in every game.  Plus, Lynn worked with Freddie a little on reading.  I took them home after a couple of hours.

We decided to use a $10 off coupon we had tonight and went to Byers Street Bistro for dinner.  It was the first time we had been there since the pandemic, I believe.  We were surprised that their menu was substantially reduced from what we remembered.  We also ran into Jim and Vicki Printy there.  Jim said he was told by his waiter that the reason the menu had been reduced wasn’t because of availability of items, it was because they can’t hire enough people to work there including cooks.  It is an unusual time now where anyone who wants to work can find a job but, apparently, plenty of people are opting to not work.

Our meal was OK there but we saved room for dessert.  Where else?  First we grabbed some food items from Central for Juan Pablo since Lynn hopes to see him tomorrow.  Then we drove to Mt. Crawford for our Smiley’s fix.

Tomorrow we’ve made arrangements to pick Betsy and Freddie up at 9:00 AM and go to Monticello.  It has been decades since I’ve been there.  We’re going in the morning because there’s a good chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 8                  Infected                   Died

World             174,720,620           3,761,763

US                     34,241,561              613,122

Virginia                677,013                11,253

Augusta County       5,953                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,426,995  (3,927,866 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 68.2% of the adult population.)                                  

            Augusta County        62,886  (31,235 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 9, 2021

Today Lynn and I played our grandparent cards again.  This time we took Betsy and Freddie to Monticello.  It’s only a 55 minute drive from here and we were there by 10:00 AM.  We were able to get two adults for the price of one because we live in Augusta County so it wasn’t an expensive visit at all.  We got our tickets at the Welcome Center then looked at the museum before boarding the shuttle bus up the hill to the house.

I took over 60 pictures which did a good job of summarizing our trip.  The kids were very well behaved.  We walked through the house and grounds and stopped at all of the important places I can recall from my previous visits.  Then we walked back down the hill, by Jefferson’s grave, and returned to the gift shop where we bought the kids each a shirt and got change with $2 bills.  It was a very nice trip there.

I couldn’t help but think during our visit that Thomas Jefferson was the epitome of hypocrisy.  In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Yet at any given time he owned at least 130 slaves, over 600 slaves in his lifetime, and freed only ten of them.  He fathered several children with a slave girl who lived in the slave quarters.  I think what Jefferson meant is that all white men who owned property were created equal…  His example is what many current Republicans now believe, I think.

Afterwards, we went to Chick Fil-A in Charlottesville for lunch then came home, getting back just before 2:30.  The kids played Wii for a few minutes before I took them back home while Lynn headed for her tutor session with Juan Pablo at his house in Waynesboro.

When I got back from taking them home, I did my usual picture work, copying my pictures a couple of different places and selecting some for my Favorite Pictures folder.  Lynn got back in time for dinner.

Then we headed for Fishersville for Henry’s soccer game with Wilson Memorial High School.  Wilson has the best team in the district so we didn’t go there with high expectations.  But FDHS did play as well tonight as they have all season.  They fell behind 1 – 0 midway through the first half then, after a corner kick, Henry fired the ball in to tie it.  Wilson pulled ahead 2 – 1 in the second half and scored again as time expired to win 3 – 1.  Fort had nothing to be ashamed of; Wilson was undefeated and Fort stayed right with them.  In fact, I think FDHS had many more shots on goal than Wilson.

This was a really good day for us.  We enjoyed the company of each other, our grandchildren, and the fellow Fort Defiance supporters at the soccer game tonight.  I know that things won’t always be this good but I can certainly appreciate a good day like this one now.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 9                  Infected                   Died

World             175,156,823           3,776,244

US                     34,264,727              613,507

Virginia                677,210                11,260

Augusta County       5,957                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            8,465,527  (3,954,678 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 68.3% of the adult population.)                                  

            Augusta County        63,204  (31,484 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 10, 2021

It rained over night and was still drizzling this morning when I got up but the tennis guys were still anxious to play.  So we delayed starting until 9:00 which worked out well.  The courts were fairly dry then and soon they were as dry as ever.  We played for an hour and a half.  The temperature was bearable, in the 70’s, but the humidity was awful.  I didn’t play as well as I have in the past.  Won and I beat Marc and Pat 6 – 4, then turned around and beat us 6 – 2.  Marc and I played together then and we only got a half set in, 3 – 3, when we decided to quit.  It was nice to be able to play on a day which started out so dreary.

The package Lynn ordered for Faron arrived today so we quickly made plans to take it to him in Roanoke.  She had a 1:00 meeting at Central so when it was over she and I headed to Roanoke.  Jim said he wouldn’t be home until 5:00 so we weren’t in a hurry.  Originally, Lynn had another Zoom meeting today at 5:30 but it was canceled so our afternoon was free to go to Roanoke.

It was a very good trip.  We actually met up with Jim at the Kroger parking lot where we both took advantage of a 90¢ off deal with gasoline thanks to points we had accumulated.  We filled both Lynn’s car and Jim’s.  Then Lynn and I went in to Kroger and bought a few items including cupcakes for the boys.

Meanwhile, Jim ordered dinner from Dominos which is very near his house.  We picked it up and took it to their house to eat.

Faron and Coen were lots of fun, as usual.  We gave Faron three science kits for his birthday and he immediately got into the first one, a robot style one.  He built a series of little routes for a robot (aka a bunny) to follow.  He did really well with it.  We ate our dinner, watched and Faron and Jim worked on the science kit, watched Coen hit tennis balls (he is REALLY good at that), then came back home.

I wish we could see those two little boys more often.  I really wish they could spend more time here.  We have so many things they would like to play with.  And we’d love watching them.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 10                Infected                   Died

World             175,603,577           3,788,195

US                     34,275,783              613,920

Virginia                677,425                11,270

Augusta County       5,957                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,513,126  (3,984,789 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 68.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        63,518  (31,725 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

Augusta County had no new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Yes!  CNN reports that 42.5% of the US population (53% of adults) are fully vaccinated and 52% (64% of adults) have had at least one dose.  Eight states have over 50% of their population fully vaccinated.  They are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

June 11, 2021

This morning Lynn and I discussed taking a fall trip.  We first looked at all the possibilities of buying a USA Rail Pass since they are on sale now at a substantial reduction.  But the problem is that the schedules for the trains we would like to go on, including one called the Empire Builder which goes from Chicago through upper Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana to Spokane, is such that the train arrives at many of the locations we’d want to stop at in the middle of the night.  The entire ride takes over 35 hours so we decided to punt on this idea. 

We may elect to take a train to White Sulphur Springs sometime, stay at the Greenbrier, then ride the train back to Staunton.  But we didn’t pick any dates for that yet.

Next I made a list of all the major cities in the United States that Lynn and I have been to.  The list is extensive!  We then looked to see what cities we have NOT been to.  The short list includes Portland, Spokane, Los Angeles, Houston, and Salt Lake City.  So we decided to schedule a trip to Salt Lake City.  We had a little money leftover in the refund from our canceled Puerto Rico trip so we contacted the AAA travel agent who helped us make plans for a Tuesday, October 12, through Saturday, October 15, trip.  The plans have us flying out of Charlottesville and staying at a hotel near the airport.  I called the hotel and found out that Salt Lake’s public transportation Tram has a station less than five minutes from this hotel so we won’t need to rent a car.  We’ll also schedule a trip with some tour group to see the Great Salt Lake and other tourist destinations there including the Mormon Tabernacle.

Since we won’t be here tomorrow, I made my weekly trash run today.  For my purposes, the old Ford Ranger does fine for trips like this.

After our lunch, Lynn and I headed to Waynesboro.  The student she tutors, Juan Pablo, is in summer school now and had told her he needed help with his computer math course.  So I went along to help.  We got to the Waynesboro Public Library at the appointed time, 1:00, but he wasn’t there.  So she texted him and he responded that he was in Charlottesville and thought she was meeting him at 3:00.  He confessed that he probably wouldn’t be back home by 3:00 so it turned out to be a wasted trip for us.  We came back home.

We had a little time to kill so we made a quick run to Smiley’s for ice cream.  I don’t typically weigh myself anymore but I did this morning and was very surprised that I weighed less than five pounds over my lowest weight of 170 last year.  As much ice cream and other things that I’ve eaten lately I was afraid I had gained ten or more pounds.  Thus I had no guilt in our afternoon treat today!

Gus and Henry both had soccer games scheduled tonight at Allegheny High School which is in Covington, about a 75 minute drive from here.  I had made arrangements to bum a ride with Ann and Josh.  Betsy and Freddie stayed with Josh’s parents.  We had to leave early, 4:00, because the JV game started at 5:30.  Because of his injury, Gus only played in one game prior to tonight and tonight was the final game of the season.  Lynn couldn’t go because she was going to Cecilia’s graduation. 

It hadn’t rained much all day here but as we got south of Staunton the rain started.  By the time we got on I-64 it was coming down in buckets.  The forecast was for it to improve so we drove on.  We got there right at 5:30, the starting time for the JV’s.  But since it was raining hard, we just stayed in the car until halftime.  That proved to be a bad decision because it turns out we missed Gus’ goal which he scored in the first half.  Furthermore, his leg started hurting again so he decided to not play any in the second half.  He was happy with his goal, the only score of the half, and that’s what was really important.

The varsity game was a mixture of emotions.  In the first half, the rain let up a little though it still kept coming down.  We had our umbrellas and Ann had brought towels to sit on.  So it was bearable.  At least it wasn’t cold; temperatures were in the 70’s.  Allegheny High had beat FDHS the first time they played.  They did so by scoring first then pulling most of the team back on defense for the rest of the game.  So it was important for Fort to score first.  Henry had one shot to score but the ball bounced off the top rail of the goal.  But soon he fed Luke Alger with a nice pass and Luke gave FDHS the 1 – 0 lead.  Fort really dominated with 95% of the action occurring on their side of the field.  Strangely, Allegheny got only one shot on goal the entire half but it went in so the score was 1 – 1.  With 10 minutes to go in the half, the coach substituted for Henry.  We thought that was just to give him a rest.

He sat out the rest of the entire game.  I was furious by the end.  He had played well when he was in and other players played the entire 80 minutes.   Fort went on to win 5 – 3 but I was still miffed by the fact that Henry didn’t play more.  I have no idea what, if anything, went through the coach’s head.  To add insult to injury, it rained hard in the second half and by the time the game was over I was thoroughly soaked.

Josh drove me home and I arrived shortly after 10:00.  I was hungry so I fixed myself a bowl of chicken noodle soup.  The hot shower felt great!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 11                Infected                   Died

World             176,031,891           3,800,283

US                     34,306,446              614,738

Virginia                677,530                11,283

Augusta County       5,959                       74

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,551,365  (4,008,768 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 68.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        63,714  (31,853 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 12, 2021

Forty five years ago today I said the two most important words I’ve said in my life, “I do.”  Lynn and I have been side by side for a long time!  As I told her this morning, I love the route we’ve taken in the past 45 years, all the stops and highlights, but I also love our current location.  And I love that we’ve got plans to continue this journey.  I write this tonight as the luckiest man I know, one who has been gifted with a much better companion than he deserves.  Lynn is an exceptional mate.  As a person she is smart, talented, beautiful, thoughtful, and is a magnificent mother and grandmother.  As a wife she is caring, hard working, and just plain fun to be with. 

She gave me a cute card this morning which said something like “It is so nice to be married to the best spouse ever…”  When I opened the card, it read “So how does it feel?”   Funny!  Usually I’m the goofy one but today she got me.  My two cards emphasized what a good team we are and how wonderful it is to be married to her.

We left home around 8:00 headed for Delaware.  Believe it or not, our first stop was right at noon at Vandewende’s ice cream shop in Bridgeville DE.  This was a creamery right on the farm where the cows are that produce the cream.  The ice cream was a strong rival to Smiley’s.  It was great!  I had one huge scoop of salted caramel and another of apple pie.  That was lunch. 

We then drove to Lewes ME where we had reservations at The Inn at Canal Square.  This was a very nice (expensive) hotel in a charming little town about twenty minutes from Rehoboth Beach.  Lewes has its own beach on the Delaware Bay which we walked to as our room was getting prepared.  After checking in, we headed to do some shopping at the nearby Tanger Outlets.

Lynn wanted to get some new bras at the Maidenform outlet.  She also found a Pandora outlet and bought a charm.  We had just enough time to do this shopping before going to our 5:00 dinner reservation at a place called Fork and Flask.  There we each had a great hamburger along with some sangria. 

Our waitress gave us some great advice for the next part of our plans—to go to the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach.  She told us where to park so we wouldn’t have to pay and was close to the boardwalk.  We had a nice stroll along the boardwalk and got our 10,000 steps in.  Of course, I took lots of pictures.

This is a mini vacation so we’re allowed to indulge.  So we did with ice cream.  This time we had an ice cream dessert at a place Vicki and Jim Printy had told us about called A Royal Treat.  To be honest, their ice cream wasn’t in the same league as Smiley’s and Vanderwende’s.   

We then came back to Lewes and walked around the town a little before turning in for the night.  It was a good day for us and a nice way to celebrate 45 years together.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 12                Infected                   Died

World             176,385,420           3,810,065

US                     34,315,867              615,037

Virginia                677,671                11,293

Augusta County       5,959                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,591,028  (4,033,614 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 68.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        63,879  (31,946 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 13, 2021

We had another good day in Delaware today.  Actually we spent half of the day in New Jersey.  After a very good breakfast here at the Inn at Canal Square in Lewes, we secured tickets for both the ferry and the shuttle in Cape May which takes pedestrians to the center of the city.   Then we took a walk around the cute little town of Lewes and ended up Lewes Bake Shop so good there was a long line outside it.  We couldn’t pass it up despite our great breakfast.  We bought and split their specialty, an “Ooey Gooey” whose name well described the pastry. 

Then we drove the three miles to the Lewes Ferry Terminal.  The ferry runs from Lewes 17 miles across the Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ.  It took around 1 ½ hours each way.  We left on the 11:15 ferry and returned to Delaware on the 4:30 ferry.  The ferry was completely loaded with vehicles but sparsely full of pedestrians.  It was a nice ride both ways with the temperature in the low 70’s and the sun brightly shining. 

In Cape May, we immediately went to the Welcome Center and asked two questions:  1) how can we get to the Cape May lighthouse and back in two hours since the shuttle loaded at 3:30 and 2) where’s a good place to get ice cream?  The man who helped us was very nice and told us we could actually walk and make it.  He gave us a map and marked our way on it.  Our route would take us through the Cape May mall which is where there was good ice cream at the Fudge Kitchen. 

His suggestion worked but the trip was actually much longer than he said it would be.  We walked through the town to the “promenade” which is another name for a paved boardwalk beside the beach.  When we got to the end of the promenade we walked on the beach to the lighthouse.  The biggest problem is that the map he had given us was no where near the correct scale.  For example, it indicated that the beach part of our walk would be only about ¼ as long as the promenade part.  In actuality it was something like 5 times as long.  It was nice to walk along the beach in such lovely weather, though, and we didn’t mind.  That is, until one particularly strong wave came in and covered our feet with water.  I had on tennis shoes and socks and they got soaked.

It took us over an hour to get to the lighthouse.  This lighthouse had been refurbished and you could actually walk to the top—199 steps on a spiral staircase!  At the last minute, Lynn got worried that it was too claustrophobic for her so she backed out.  I did the climb myself and took several pictures to prove it.

We knew we wouldn’t have time to make it back to the shuttle but we had plan B with us.  The guide at the Welcome Center, anticipating that we might need it, gave us a business card with a cab’s phone number on it.  We called the cab from the lighthouse.  He got there at 3:10 and we told him we needed to be at the Welcome Center by 3:30.   The problem is he didn’t know where the Welcome Center was.  We finally just got out in downtown Cape May, asked a trolley driver how to get to the Welcome Center, and walked there just in time to catch the shuttle.  Whew!

We were back in Lewes shortly after 6:00.  We changed shoes and socks and walked to the Mexican restaurant, Agave.  There we had another good meal.  I had enchiladas and Lynn had chips and guacamole which she split with me plus an order of queso fundido which she ended up bringing back to the hotel.

No surprise, we ended our day with ice cream.  This time we got it from the local shop in Lewes, Kings Homemade Ice Cream, which was very good.  Neither of us got much, though, as we were still full from our Mexican food.

This trip has been very good for us.  We’ve enjoyed each other’s company, seen a part of America that we’ve not seen before, eaten well, and gotten good walking in.  Each day we’ve walked at least 12,500 steps.  Today my total was over 15,000 steps.

I’ve taken and posted to Flickr and my website over 150 photos thus far.  We don’t have much planned for tomorrow since we’ve got a five hour drive ahead of us and want to be home in plenty of time to get to Cecilia’s 7:00 soccer game.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 13                Infected                   Died

World             176,701,361           3,818,937

US                     34,321,093              615,053

Virginia                677,744                11,307

Augusta County       5,963                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,606,021  (4,044,815 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        63,928  (31,985 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 14, 2021

Our Delaware trip came to an end today.  It was a very good trip for us.  Our plan was to eat breakfast at the Inn at Canal Square, then go to the state park Cape Henlopen to walk.  The park was close by, about a ten minute drive.  I had read about it on the web several time and saw that they had free bikes to ride around its many bike paths.  It seemed like a great place to start the day.

It was a big disappointment.  Thanks to COVID-19, the free bike program had been abandoned.  Still, we thought, we could find a good trail to walk on.  It cost us $10 to get into the park.  We were given a map which turned out to be very poorly made.  The park was in bad need of maintenance.  We wanted to go to the bathroom once we got there so the map directed us to a place which turned out to just have a couple of very nasty portapotties.   When we finally got to the beachhouse at the Cape Henlopen beach, the bathrooms were locked.  Fortunately, there were employees inside cleaning the bathrooms and they felt sorry for us so they let us get in. 

Most of the park was closed; we were there before 9:00.  We finally found a trail to walk on but as we walked, we discovered that much of it was in the sand.  We didn’t want to get sand in our shoes so we packed it in and went back to the hotel.  We got ourselves packed up, checked out, and headed for home a little earlier than we had planned.

We got to the best ice cream store we found on this trip, Vanderwende’s, about an hour from Lewes.  We had stopped there on the way to Lewes and vowed to return.  It didn’t disappoint.  Lynn also got some cheese there.

On the way home we made arrangements to stop by and visit with Kay, Georgia, and Andy.  Thomas was at a friend’s house.  We got there around 1:15 and stayed for about a half hour.  It was a good, albeit short, visit with them.

We elected to stop by Costco on our way home.  We had gotten a text that Central needed coffee for the Food Pantry.  Plus, Lynn had a few things in mind to get.  We had to hustle because we didn’t get to Costco until 4:15 and needed to be at Cecilia’s soccer game by 6:00. 

We got home shortly after 5:00, fixed a very quick dinner, and were back in Keezletown at the soccer game at 6:00.  Unfortunately, it was Cecilia’s last game of her career as Spotswood fell to Charlottesville, 6 – 2.  After the game, we made a couple more grocery store stops then came home.  Our day had started in Delaware and ended up quite busy.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 14                Infected                   Died

World             177,020,386           3,827,430

US                     34,335,192              615,225

Virginia                677,812                11,318

Augusta County       5,966                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,629,238  (4,062,990 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        63,962  (32,008 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 15, 2021

It was back to normal today which ended up being a day of mixed work and play.  For me, it started with tennis this morning at 8:30.  We had the same foursome that played last week, Won Un, Marc Kinder, Pat Peason and me.  I played pretty well for me though I did drop one of three sets.  We traded partners in each set.  It seems to me that I can never get all of the strokes doing well on the same day.  Today I hit decent ground strokes, better-than-normal volleys, much better than usual overheads, but served only so-so.  Oh well, I’m just glad we got to play.  After two hours I was pretty exhausted.

I went directly to Central and spent two hours doing Treasurer’s work.  I reconciled three credit card accounts, paid a half dozen bills, and recorded the deposit the counters made yesterday.  But I still left behind a bunch of other chores I’ll need to do later this week.

I was supposed to go with Lynn this afternoon to help Juan Pablo with some math issues he was having in summer school, but he begged out.  He’s great at coming up with excuses as to why he doesn’t need help with his schoolwork though he clearly does need the help.

Instead, I spent a good bit of time on the lawnmower.  Our grass was higher than it has been in a long time so my time was well spent.  I did both the riding and the push mowing that needed to be done and our lawn looks much, much better.

Betsy and Freddie came over this afternoon.  Betsy had a craft kit that Lynn helped her with.  I played some Wii with Freddie (got annihilated as usual).  When Ann picked them up, I got her to take me to T & B Simmons so I could pick up Jim’s car.  They had done a bunch of maintenance items on it today getting it ready for him to drive to Maine in two weeks.

After dinner, Lynn and I went to Gypsy Hill park and walked two laps around it.  Counting the three sets of tennis I played today, I walked over 15,000 steps today.  That’s a lot for me.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 15                Infected                   Died

World             177,364,366           3,836,857

US                     34,350,203              615,680

Virginia                677,949                11,328

Augusta County       5,972                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,661,242  (4,083,891 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        64,285  (32,251 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 16, 2021

Because I left numerous tasks undone when I was at Central yesterday, my first stop of the day was there to complete the Treasurer’s tasks.  I was able to do so in less than two hours.  In general, it takes me about 2 – 3 hours a week to do this work.  I’ve got the time, have learned the software, so I don’t mind making this one of my contributions to the work of the Church.

As usual, I ate lunch at home with Lynn.  Then I decided to do some weed-whacking around the house.  My reason for trying to get the yard looking good is that we learned last night that Jim is going to bring the boys here Sunday for Father’s Day.  There’s even a chance Kay and family will come.  I certainly want the yard to look nice for my family.  It didn’t take me long to do the weed-whacking. 

In our spare time we’ve both been busy anchoring down our plans for future trips.  For example, we’ve change our flight times for the Oregon trip, investigated car rentals in Salt Lake City, and double checked with cousin Joseph DeLeo that their Kennebunkport VRBO rental has laundry facilities they’re willing to share with us. 

We had a leisurely afternoon before heading to Bridgewater to walk.  Bridgewater has a couple of nice parks along the river.  These parks have shaded walkways and trails that we enjoyed hiking on.  I managed to get in over 8,500 steps today. 

We finished hiking around 4:30 and headed to Harrisonburg for dinner.  We had invited Ann’s family to join us at El Sol where we ate with Cecilia’s family.  Cecilia’s dad is a truck driver who has driven in almost every state.  He told us that El Sol was his favorite restaurant anywhere.  We certainly enjoyed our dinner with his family a few weeks ago.

On the way there, we decided to doublecheck to make sure the restaurant would be open.  Closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays!  We had to quickly make a change of plans especially since Ann’s family was already headed to Harrisonburg to meet us.  We called them for a suggestion of a place to eat and they came up with Cracker Barrel.  It turned out to be a good suggestion.  Everyone got plenty to eat; no one was displeased with what they got.  Further, Lynn had some Cracker Barrel gift cards she had purchased at Kroger because Kroger was giving away extra points for gift card purchases so the meal, although it was expensive for eight, didn’t cost us that much out of pocket tonight. 

After dinner we came on home then decided to go back to Fort Defiance High School to watch the girls soccer team play Lynchburg Christian Academy in the regional tournament.  We hadn’t seen the girls play all year.  It was a great, great match.  Fort went out to a 1 – 0 lead in the first half and almost held it to the end.  But with three minutes to go, their opponents scored to tie the score.  It looked like it would end that way but the Fort Defiance forward, Allie Cook, got a breakaway with two minutes to go and scored her second goal of the night to make it 2 – 1.  Fort was able to hold on for the win.  The FDHS goalie made a handful of great saves. 

On our calendar, this day had absolutely nothing on it.  But it ended up being a pretty busy day.  Furthermore, our calendar is filling up again as Gus and Henry start summer basketball tournament play this weekend.  Gus had two games on Friday night and Henry has two on Monday.  Tomorrow night I’m going to Roanoke to swap cars back with Jim.

For today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 16                Infected                   Died

World             177,787,192           3,848,158

US                     34,366,073              616,144

Virginia                678,226                11,330

Augusta County       5,977                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,717,435  (4,122,956 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        64,434  (32,331 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

Virginia had only two death from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.  I’ll be satisfied when Virginia has no new cases nor deaths in a full day.  Things are certainly better but COVID hasn’t disappeared yet.  I saw a Facebook post which said “Know what’s common about all those hospitalized with COVID?  None has been vaccinated!”

June 17, 2021

I had played tennis pretty well on Tuesday so I looked forward to playing again this morning.  The weather was perfect so I entered the Mary Baldwin tennis courts with high expectations.  I wish I could report that they were fulfilled.  I played very inconsistently and ended up losing two of the three sets we played.  Today my serve was fine but my ground strokes were poor.  One of these days I’ll get it all together.

I can’t complain, especially after the phone call Pat Peason made to Rob Cale while we were on the courts.  Rob had knee replacement surgery a week ago and will be out of tennis for eight months or so.  But he told us that his recovery is not going well.  He was told he would be driving in a week and right now he can’t even stand on his own.  He said he is in tremendous pain and thinks perhaps the surgeons broke his tibia during the operation.  So I can’t complain about spraying a few forehands and backhands off the court.

After we played, I tried to visit Bob Hanson at Brightview/Baldwin Park where he is in assisted living.  Unfortunately, he was involved with some sort of physical therapy when I stopped by so I didn’t get to see him.   I should have visited him long before now.  What prompted me to see him is that I opened an envelope addressed to Central United Methodist Church two days ago when I was doing my treasurer’s work and inside was a check from the bank that oversees his money.  It was a very large check and I need to ask him where he’d like for this money to go.  Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow or Saturday to see him.  Pastor Won is scheduled to visit with him on Sunday.

Lynn had a meeting at lunchtime with the ELL teachers in Rockingham County.  After she returned, we went to Harrisonburg for an open house at Lakeside Publishing in Harrisonburg, formerly R. R. Donnelly Inc.  We took Betsy and Freddie with us.  The open house included a tour of the facility with a guide who explained how books are printed and bound.  It was an interesting visit.  However, it was long—90 minutes in all.  Betsy and Freddie were very patient.

We made arrangements to swap cars with Jim tonight.  I’ve been driving his car since T & B  Simmons did some work on it Tuesday.  Jim suggested we meet after dinner.  Lynn found an ice cream store in Lexington where we could meet, Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe.  We got to Lexington 45 minutes before he was scheduled to arrive.  It was a very nice night for walking so we strolled about the campuses of Washington & Lee University and Virginia Military Institute.  The two institutions are side by side in Lexington.  I had never been on the W & L campus before.  With it being summertime, we seemed to have the entire campus to ourselves.  The nice walk we had plus my tennis this morning gave me over 10,000 steps for the day.

And the ice cream was good, too!  Jim had a waffle cone, I had a cup, and Lynn had a milkshake.  We swapped a few things we had brought to each other then headed back home in our own vehicles.

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

June 17                Infected                   Died

World             178,183,638           3,857,474

US                     34,377,281              616,430

Virginia                678,392                11,336

Augusta County       5,978                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,751,641  (4,146,440 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        64,633  (32,479 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 18, 2021

Yesterday I discovered a website that has taken over my free time today.  JeopardyLabs is a site where people can either use Jeopardy boards that others have created or create their own.  The site is very easy to use and works great in the “play mode.”  Most every year at our family vacations Lynn and I try to come up with some family activities.  She finds neat craft activities for them and I find or make games for us to play.  JeopardyLabs played right into my hand for our upcoming Maine trip.

I spent a couple of hours today creating and saving Jeopardy games on this site.  I’ve found a few other games that other people have created that will likely work well, too.  Betsy told me yesterday that her 5th grade teachers used this site a lot.  I hope they work well with the family.

I also came up with another idea for the trip but I’m going to keep that under my hat for a while.  Lynn and I debated today whether we should plan anything.  I say that it is important to have some kind of group activity so kids won’t just be wandering around staring into their phones.

Today I went with Lynn to help Juan Pablo with some math he is taking in summer school.  However, when we met at a table outside the Waynesboro Public Library, he couldn’t access his math sheets so I had no way to even know what he was struggling with.  He did find his social studies assignments so Lynn spent the time working with him on that.

When we came home, I went to Brightview/Baldwin Park and met with Bob Hanson for a short while.  Bob wasn’t doing very well.  He was in bed and though he was mostly alert, I’m not sure he understand everything I told him.  He had made a substantial donation to Central and I wanted to find out if there was any particular project or fund he had in mind.  He said he didn’t but I still left the visit with some doubts about his large check.

One good thing that came about with that visit was that the person at the receptionist’s desk was a former, and favorite, student of mine, Teresa Shuler.  I had an excellent visit with her.  Lynn also taught her Spanish.

After our usual Friday night hamburger dinner, Lynn and I went to Harrisonburg to watch Gus play two summer JV basketball games.  He had been hurt during soccer season and only had one week or so to practice with the basketball team so we didn’t know what we’d see.  It turned out that he and his team both played very well.  They won both games they played tonight.  First they beat a team from Spotswood 43 – 14.  Gus played fine with numerous rebounds and six points.  In the second game they played a team from Turner Ashby High School and won that one 34 – 22.  Again he played well.  He only scored two points but still played as good as can be expected given his previous two months. 

Tomorrow morning he has games at 9:00, 11:00, and 12:00.   I’m going to try to make them all.  Lynn is going to garage sales with Cheryl Wright.

I am so lucky to be able to watch my grandchildren play sports, eat well, live comfortably, and be surrounded with love.  I feel very, very blessed tonight.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

June 18                Infected                   Died

World             178,596,745           3,866,862

US                     34,393,269              616,920

Virginia                678,506                11,342

Augusta County       5,977                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,782,457  (4,167,519 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        64,840  (32,623 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 19, 2021

Gus and his FDHS JV team had a successful tournament again today.  They played three games and won them all, giving them a 5 – 0 record in the tourney.  Gus played well again today.  He had nine points in one game, seven in another, and two in the third.  He had numerous rebounds and blocks.  And he didn’t throw the ball away ever.  Today they beat the team from Turner Ashby twice plus the team from Central – Woodstock.  Today’s games took all morning; I rode with Josh, Henry, and Gus to and from the games.

It was quite hot today so Lynn and I didn’t do anything outside in the morning or afternoon.  I did make my weekly run to the trash dump with ours and the Gutshall’s trash.  But besides that I spent lots of time making up more Jeopardy games on the site JeopardyLabs.  I want to have some games just for the Gutshall family for the times on our Maine trip we’ll just be with them.  I want to have more games for them and the Foys who will join us in Maine.  And I want to have some for the Gutshalls, Foys, Danglers, and DeLeos who will join us at times in Maine.  I have two purposes with these games:  1) create an activity that will involve multiple family members and 2) teach the younger members of the family various facts about their family.

I really feel like it is my responsibility to share family facts, histories, genealogies, etc. with my children and grandchildren.  I also feel like it is my responsibility to pass along my faith to them.  I don’t know if I do a decent job at either. 

For a change, I was the one who fixed dinner tonight.  I grilled rib eye steaks and baked potatoes.  Both were quite good.  After dinner Lynn and I went to the Dairy Queen in Verona for an ice cream dessert, then came home and walked our two mile hike.

The neighborhood pig, Winnie, was out tonight.  We hadn’t seen her for weeks.  But there she was, waddling beside then in the middle of Leaport Road near the house where she lives.  It was fairly hot, around 80o, when we walked.  We both were tired because we got up very early today.  Lynn met her friend Cheryl Wright to go to garage sales at 7:15 AM at Walgreen’s in Verona and I took her so she wouldn’t have to leave her new car in the parking lot.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

June 19                Infected                   Died

World             178,936,789           3,874,803

US                     34,401,206              617.079

Virginia                678,595                11,343

Augusta County       5,975                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,810,782  (4,186,501 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        64,927  (32,672 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

These appear to be the best statistics in a long, long while.  Virginia had only 89 new cases and 1 new death in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County strangely showed a decrease in the number of cases.  A year ago today, for example, Virginia had over 500 new cases and 16 new deaths.

June 20, 2021

This was absolutely the best Fathers Day I can remember.  All three children and eight grandchildren were here plus Josh and Andy.  I got some great presents including a cool framed poster of all the National Parks with a checkbox for us to mark the ones we’ve already been to and continue to mark as we get to others.  Lynn ordered the poster and Jim made the frame.  I also got a really cool pair of sports sunglasses from all three kids plus a tennis shirt that Lynn vinyled the shirt with the words “If you wanted a soft serve you should have gone for ice cream” on the back.  My tennis buddies will love it!  Jim got me another case of good tennis balls.  Kay brought an ice cream cake from Smiley’s.  Of course, it was salted caramel chocolate chunk.  Ann sent a box of pastries.  I also got a great collection of Father’s Day cards.

But the greatest present I got today was giggles, laughter, hugs, and over two hundred pictures.  Because of the pandemic, it has literally been years since all eight grandchildren have been together in the backyard.  They had a water balloon fight, played on the swingset and seesaw, climbed the big maple tree,  rode bikes, and played tennis.  Kay, Andy, Jim, and I all hit some tennis balls.  It was heavenly. 

I had ordered and picked up seven pizzas from Vito’s Pizza Pie in Keezletown.  We got two Soprano, one Godfather (meat), one pepperoni, and three cheese.  There was lots of pizza left over.  We ate outside in the shade.  By mid-afternoon, the entire Pergola was in the shade.  We drank Ginger Ale and Lemonade.  And, of course, we had ice cream cake for dessert. 

So we ate well, laughed a lot, posed for hundreds of pictures, and got to see and visit with the entire family.  Coen and Faron were especially fun to watch and interact with.  Today was only the second time they have been here since the pandemic began 15 months ago.

I feel so blessed tonight.  I know not everyone has the opportunity I got today.  I am so thankful that I did. 

I began the day with Zoom Sunday School then Lynn and I went to church at Central.  At church, Millie Brown was giving away lots of plants.  Lynn grabbed several zinnias because the zinnia seeds we planted didn’t amount to anything.  We like to put them around our light post and mail box.  So tonight the two of us, with Freddie’s help, planted the zinnias from Millie both places. 

I had to hustle after church because our family had agreed on an early afternoon pizza picnic.  I was able to pick up our pizzas and get back here just before Ann and Jim came with their families.  Jim had stopped at her house to do some lawnmower work for her.  He is such a talented young man.  They have a working lawnmower now and I have memories of a terrific Father’s Day.  Today is Jim’s 38th birthday.

I know the kids think I’m crazy because I take so many pictures.  As I mentioned above, I took well over 200 today.  But those pictures enable me to enjoy today’s great day over and over in the future as I look back through the smiling kids’ and grandkids’ faces.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 20                Infected                   Died

World             179,239,830           3,881,538

US                     34,406,001              617,166

Virginia                678,649                11,351

Augusta County       5,975                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,833,655  (4,201,439 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,007  (32,728 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

Augusta County had no new cases today.  Virginia is only 0.1% away from meeting Biden’s goal of having 70% of the adult population vaccinated with at least one shot by July 1.

June 21, 2021

I’d have to say our lives are 99% back to normal now.  We rarely wear masks in public since we’re both fully vaccinated.  The events we go to no longer have limited attendance.  We’re both healthy and have survived this pandemic surprisingly well.  This being the case, I am seriously considering no longer maintaining this blog.  It has helped me through the stressful times as COVID-19 got closer and closer to us.  Then, thankfully, the vaccines came and rescued us.  So I think I’ll soon close this chapter of my life.

Today was my day to get caught up on Central’s treasurers work.  I prepared the payroll for June 30, paid the health and retirement benefits for Pastor Won, and paid another bill.  Then I counted Sunday’s offering, made the bank deposit, then made the QuickBooks deposit.  I need to return to pay more bills on Wednesday since I’ll be gone pretty much the next two weeks.

Coming back home, I planted some more zinnias for Lynn and continued my work on the activities for our Maine trip.  Then I returned to Central to help unload and shelve this week’s Blue Ridge Area Food Bank order.  Lynn went to work with her student, Juan Pablo, only to find out he had been dropped from summer school for failure to maintain his work.  Bummer!

Nonetheless, we put together a food basket for him and one for the Aguirre family from Central’s Food Lion donations.  Lynn took the box to Elizabeth and family tonight and will take Juan Pablo’s to him tomorrow.

Tonight I got to go to Henry’s varsity basketball games.  They were against Buffalo Gap and Riverheads at the ACTS Center south of Staunton.  There are eight teams playing in a league there:  Fort Defiance, Buffalo Gap, Riverheads, Stuarts Draft, Staunton, Spotswood, Turner Ashby, and Parry McClure.  FDHS won two games tonight but is certainly not the strongest team in the league.  Next Sunday they play both Spotswood and Parry McClure which are much more formidable than the teams they played tonight.  They beat Buffalo Gap 48 – 31 and dominated Riverheads 49 – 22.  Henry played well—he scored ten points in all, had numerous rebounds, and no turnovers.  It was fun watching him and his teammates.

It is supposed to rain tomorrow morning so my usual tennis doubles matches will likely not be played.  We may play on Wednesday AM.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 21                Infected                   Died

World             179,534,750           3,888,357

US                     34,419,838              617,463

Virginia                678,765                11,360

Augusta County       5,975                       75

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,846,776  (4,210,152 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 69.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,046  (32,754 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

For the second day in a row, Augusta County had no new cases.  Hallelujah! 

Thinking back over the past 15 months, I can recall many emotions:  fear of catching COVID-19, anger over the turtle-like speed that the vaccines were distributed at first, elation over getting my appointment for the Pfizer vaccine, and double elation when I got my second shot.  As I said in my initial paragraph today, things are pretty much back to normal, including my emotions.

June 22, 2021

The forecast this morning was for rain but when I got up things were still dry.  We were scheduled to play tennis at 8:30 so there was some texting among the four of us as to what to do.  Since it hadn’t rained, we agreed to come on to the courts and give it a try.  Well, three of the four of us came:  Marc, Pat, and me.  Won somehow lost the message so we began playing Canadian doubles. I texted Won and he finally came at 9:15.  Unfortunately, the forecast was pretty accurate and by 9:30 the rain was coming down pretty well so we postponed until tomorrow morning.  It was too bad for me because I was playing pretty well.  At least I got a good hour of tennis in.

I immediately called Lynn who had made arrangements to take food to Juan Pablo in Waynesboro this morning.  I caught her just as she was leaving home so we met in Verona and I rode with her to deliver the food box.  Then we went to a couple of grocery stores in Staunton and came on home.  On my way home I stopped by the Mount Sidney post office and made arrangements for our mail to be held Thursday – Saturday then again Sunday – July 6.

I had a CUMC Finance Meeting at 2:00 in the afternoon so I spent some time beforehand getting my documents ready for the meeting.  The biggest thing we had to do was to decide how to handle the check we’d received from a member for a substantial amount (over $15,000).  We elected to put the money in Central’s money market fund at City National Bank which I hope to take care of tomorrow.

After that meeting Lynn and I made a Costco run on behalf of Central.  I had been asked to buy some items for the custodian, Janet.  We were able to pick them up and get back in plenty of time to eat dinner then take our neighborhood walk before my Central Council meeting tonight at 7:00.  The weather had changed substantially from the morning’s rain.  By this afternoon it was dry and much cooler with highs only in the low 70’s.

I’m the secretary of Central’s Council so I took minutes during the Zoom meeting.  It isn’t hard to do because I Zoom on my laptop and do the minutes on the desktop.  My goal is to get the minutes e-mailed to Pastor Won and the Council Chair, Tom Davis, less than one minute after the meeting ends.  Tonight I did it well within the one minute goal.

I am not a UVA fan in any sport.  I have my reasons:  1) In 1981 WVU played UVA in football at Charlottesville.  They played on my birthday.  It was the first year I had moved to Virginia from Morgantown.  I went to the football game a little homesick to cheer on my Mountaineers.  Well, WVU got its butt kicked that night.  But what was really upsetting was that the UVA pep band at halftime did a very demeaning skit depicting West Virginians as uneducated hillbillies.  The President of UVA later apologized to the WVU president for this.  He may have forgiven them but I have not.  2)  Kay applied to UVA, was accepted, and also applied for the Jefferson Scholarship, a full ride to UVA.  She did not get it despite having every qualification in the world for it.  Of course, she got the same scholarship at Georgia Tech which actually turned out great for her.  But why she was not given the Jefferson Scholarship is a mystery to me.  I have not forgiven them for this oversight.   3)  When Kay was a senior at Georgia Tech, she applied for law schools in various places, including UVA.  Again they did not pick her.  They did make a good choice in picking Andy.  I have never forgiven UVA for slighting my daughter TWICE.

That being said, UVA made it to the College World Series and was on ESPN tonight against Mississippi State.  As I wrote this post I watched the game.  For baseball, it was an interesting game.  The UVA pitcher threw a no-hitter for the first seven innings and Virginia scored 4 runs early to take a 4 – 0 lead. But in the 8th, a Mississippi State player hit a two run home run cutting UVA’s lead to 4  – 2.  Then they got two more on base and another player hit a home run making it 5 – 4 Mississippi State.  A couple of hits later they scored again. What a comeback! Then in the bottom of the 8th UVA had a home run to cut the lead to 6 – 5. Virginia couldn’t manage anything in the last two innings and fell.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 22                Infected                   Died

World             179,910,559           3,897,368

US                     34,434,081              617,864

Virginia                678,909                11,367

Augusta County       5,976                       76

            Vaccinated

            Virginia          8,865,628  (4,222,209 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot. With these figures, Virginia became the 16th state achieving Biden’s goal of 70% of adults having at least one shot.)

            Augusta County        65,157  (32,824 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

After two straight days of excellent numbers, Augusta County had its 76th death due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Of course, I have no idea who this was but I’d bet my savings this person was unvaccinated.

June 23, 2021

Today our foursome played tennis again after getting rained out yesterday.  I wrote yesterday about how I thought I was playing well at the time so I looked forward to playing today.  I think I played the worst I’ve played in months!  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  I lost my serve five out of six times.  My partner and I lost the first set 7 – 5 and after we switched partners I lost again, this time 7 – 6.  And it just wasn’t losing that got to me, it was hitting the ball poorly.  None of my strokes were decent today.  Oh well, at least I got some exercise.

After tennis, I went to Central and got some Treasurer’s duties behind me.  I think I’m leaving everything in pretty decent shape until we get back from Maine though I will have a chance on Sunday to pay a bill or two.

I had an appointment after lunch today to get my fuel pump replaced on my Honda.  This was a factory recall from Honda because apparently there was a problem with the original fuel pump which would cause the car to stall.  I never experienced this but the recall was free and a safety factor.  The only issue is that it took a couple of hours.  I just sat in the waiting room and took advantage of the dealership’s WiFi.

Today was also grass cutting day since I’ll be gone to Abingdon tomorrow, Bramwell on Friday and Saturday, then back here only for Sunday before leaving for Maine and New York for eight days.  After cutting the grass, Lynn cut my hair.  She does a fine job.

Lynn came up with a really neat craft activity for the kids on the Maine trip.  We needed to buy some materials for this (I’m keeping that secret) and we both went to various Dollar General stores in order to find them.  Tonight after dinner we finally got all we needed.  We also went to a Dollar Tree and Walmart in Dayton then came home via Smiley’s.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 23                Infected                   Died

World             180,341,403           3,906,629

US                     34,448,137              618,278

Virginia                679,137                11,368

Augusta County       5,982                       76

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,888,674  (4,235,822 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,250  (32,892 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

Tomorrow we leave for Abingdon, then two days in Bramwell, then back here on Saturday.  On Monday we head for Kennebunkport.  Should be fun!

June 24, 2021

We had a leisurely drive to Abingdon today.  Lynn had a haircut scheduled at 7:30 this morning and by 8:30 we were on our way to Roanoke.  That was our first stop where we picked up some pictures frames and a scooter from Jim and left him with some ice cream he had bought for Faron and Coen last Sunday but left at our house.  He was very busy today cutting grass.  He’s trying to get all 25 of his lawn customers taken care of so he can leave on Sunday for Maine.

Our next stop was at Draper Mercantile where we had a wonderful lunch.  Lynn had a hamburger with pimento cheese and I had two ham and cheese sliders.  We both had fries.  I had a couple of cups of their coffee—I’ve had it every time I’ve been there and love it.

Next we drove on to Abingdon but got to the hotel before our room was ready.  So we went to the Creeper Trail and walked a couple of miles.  The weather was perfect for walking and so was the trail.  It was actually quite busy with bikers and walkers.

From there we made a stop at the Abingdon Kroger then came on to the Comfort Suites where we always stay.  We had made this reservation with points and when we checked in we were told that we had been given a complimentary upgrade to a room with a jacuzzi in it.  We didn’t use the jacuzzi but just the thought of being upgraded because we stay here so much was rewarding.  We have been staying here for around ten years usually 6 – 8 times each year since we come to the Barter Theatre so often.  The hotel is always clean.

After checking in to our room we hopped back in the car and drove to another favorite spot of ours in this part of the world, the Blackbird Bakery in Bristol.  There we got ice cream cones plus we bought some pastries for tomorrow morning’s breakfast.  This bakery is so busy it is open 24 hours a day.  After eating our ice cream we walked a couple of blocks to downtown Bristol which is an interesting city because one side of Main Street is in Virginia and the other is in Tennessee.  We both got in our 10,000+ steps today which was good for a day in which we spent nearly four hours riding in our car.

While waiting on the show, I texted cousin Becky Allen to see if the town was having its annual weenie roast tomorrow night.  She quickly wrote back that it had been postponed until September this year.  Bummer—our September is already quite full so I doubt that we’ll be able to make it.  Nonetheless, our plan is to meet Butch around noon and possibly have lunch at the new Mexican restaurant.  Can you imagine that—a Mexican restaurant in Bramwell?  When I was growing up there I never even heard of a taco or burrito.

The Barter show we went to tonight was an old familiar one for us, Always…Patsy Cline.  We’ve seen it at least twice in the past.  But the setting was very different thanks to COVID.  The Barter has moved its shows to a local drive-in theatre, the Moonlite.  Our tickets were in Row B, Parking Spot 9.  We could see the stage clearly from there and the sound was piped in over our radio on FM 100.5.  Plus, cameras projected the image on the large theatre screen above the stage.  Quite unusual!  They cleverly used a green screen background for part of the stage and would, at times, change the background using the green screen as foreground. 

The best part of the show was the voice of the actress who portrayed Patsy Cline.  Her voice was wonderful and mimicked Patsy’s very, very well.  All in all it was a fantastic show.  We were so glad we came! 

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 24                Infected                   Died

World             180,739,556           3,915,122

US                     34,463,714              618,616

Virginia                679,330                11,378

Augusta County       5,984                       77

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,915,179  (4,252,807 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,397  (32,985 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

As much as we’ve had dramatic recovery from the pandemic, in the last three days Augusta County has lost two people to COVID-19.  Only 77 people have been lost in a year and a half so this week’s numbers are disturbing.  I suppose these are people who have been battling it for a long time and lost their battle.  But I’m only guessing.

June 25, 2021

We left Abingdon fairly early today, and since Bluefield was only an hour, 45 minutes away, we got to West Virginia well before lunchtime.  We had texted Butch who suggested that we stop by the B & B where he was staying, the Bluefield Inn, because he really liked it.  So we did.  It was on Jefferson Street just ½ block from the house Mom Cook lived in for the last 15 or so years of her life.  Indeed, one of the things we did was to walk up the steep street to her house where I took a couple of photos.

After visiting at the bed and breakfast, we then drove to Bramwell, arriving just before noon.  We decided to eat at the new Mexican restaurant, Casa Familia.  It was a good decision.  Lynn and I split a burrito and we all enjoyed chips and guacamole.  While we were there eating outside, we saw several Bramwell residents including cousins Becky and Judie. 

Then we walked down to the Corner Shop and visited briefly with more old acquaintances including Greg and Debbie Murphy.  From there we decided to take a hike around Bramwell.  We walked from downtown toward the house Butch and I grew up in and then kept going to both of the two reservoirs in the hollow above the house.  They were very picturesque though the path, especially to the older reservoir, was a little muddy.  I took lots of pictures.

Walking back, we made a loop and ended up at the Presbyterian Church.  Bramwell is still a pretty town despite the deteriorating condition of some of its houses.  My pictures show this.  The weather was nice for walking and Becky had joined the three of us for the entire hike.

After we returned to town, we headed to Princeton to check in at our hotel, Fairfield Inn.  On the way we stopped to get Lynn some tea and me some Coke from McDonalds.  We also did a little shopping at Walmart which is very near to the hotel. 

We checked in, rested a bit, and I uploaded my first set of pictures to Flickr.  Soon it was time to change clothes as Butch had invited to treat us for dinner at a new restaurant in Bluefield, the Vault, at which he had eaten last evening.  It was only a 30 minutes drive from our hotel to the restaurant.  The restaurant was in an old bank building, hence its name.  It was a four star restaurant.  Becky joined us there, too, and Butch paid for everything.  We had drinks beforehand, an exquisite dinner, and even dessert.  Lynn had a tenderloin meal and I had ziti and meatballs.  It was the finest eating I’ve ever had in a restaurant in Mercer County, for sure.

Returning to the hotel, I uploaded my second set of pictures then we called it quits for the day.  It was a really nice day in southern West Virginia. 

Lynn and I are doing research.  She would like for us to get a new mattress for our bed at home.  So on this short trip and on our longer trip to New England we are recording how she slept on each hotel bed.  If, indeed, one of them gives her the most comfort and least amount of discomfort to her bad back, we’ll find out what the brand is and buy one for our home.  I’ve got a spreadsheet going to record each night’s mattress data.

I’ve noticed something different about the houses in southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia compared to what we see in our neighborhood—there are no Trump signs here.  Many houses in Augusta County still have the Trump 2020 and Trump/Pence signs in their yards.  I have yet to see the first one of these since we’ve left Augusta County.  I’m surprised and can’t really explain it.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 25                Infected                   Died

World             181,162,689           3,924,553

US                     34,482,142              619,147

Virginia                679,472                11,389

Augusta County       5,984                       77

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,937,705  (4,265,194 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,540  (33,081 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 26, 2021

This day began in Princeton WV and ended up back home.  We were invited to eat breakfast with Butch at the B & B he was staying at in Bluefield so we took him up on the offer.  We had some delicious juice, fruit, waffles, and bacon.  Then we went to the Bluefield City Park and found a really nice trail to walk on.  It was shady, graveled, and level.  We dropped Butch back off and headed for Princeton to get ready for the Hill Reunion.

To do so, we had to first make arrangements to get some fried chicken.  We tried Kroger first but were told it had to be ordered 24 hours in advance.  Then we tried Chick Fil-A online but the first available pickup time there was 1:30 and the picnic began at 1:00.  So we went to the Chick Fil-A in person where they were most accommodating, telling us we could pick up our chicken at 12:30.

We went back to the hotel, packed, and checked out.  Then we got our chicken and drove to Pinnacle Rock State Park where the reunion was being held.

There were 31 people there—less than in some years but still a good turnout.  The food was plentiful and good, as usual.  Becky had ordered some really neat cookies decorated with Bramwell insignia.  We stayed until 4:00 then headed home.

The trip home took us just over three hours.  It took a while to get everything unpacked.  Of course, I had to work on uploading the pictures I took during the day but I got it all done.  All in all I took and posted 170 photos from this weekend.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 26                Infected                   Died

World             181,533,020           3,932,451

US                     34,489,649              619,343

Virginia                679,680                11,392

Augusta County       5,982                       77

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 8,962,502  (4,279,531 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,715  (33,194 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 27, 2021

This was quite a busy day with things to catch up on from our three days away and many things to get ready for our upcoming nine day trip.  Plus we had church, a musical with Betsy performing in it, and a ball game with Henry and Gus playing.  Whew!

After Zoom Sunday School, we went to church.  Afterwards, I stayed to do a few Treasurer’s jobs plus a task our custodian Janet asked me to do.  By the time we got home from church, I had to rush because I needed to make a Costco run.  I got everything there I was supposed to get but several things slowed me down so I got home later than I wanted.

Nonetheless, we had time to make it to Betsy’s performance in The Lion King Jr. at the Waynesboro theatre.  It was very well done.  Lynn and I had seen the Broadway in Richmond performance of The Lion King a few years ago and this was a neat adaptation made for younger performers.  Indeed, Betsy was one of the youngest on the stage.  She had several non-speaking roles including that of a hyena.  No surprise, I think she did a marvelous job.  I wasn’t allowed to take pictures during the show but I did take lots afterwards.

We came back home, ate dinner, and did some preliminary packing. We’re going to leave at 9:00 tomorrow morning, taking two cars, and should be at an ice cream creamery for lunch near Chambersburg PA.

Jim drove all the way from his house in Roanoke to Maine today.  This was a 12 hour drive.  He wanted to have a few days to spend with his good friend Bradley before meeting us on Wednesday in Kennebunkport.  I know it was a long day of driving for him and I’m delighted he got there without any issues.

After we got some items packed tonight, we had time to catch the second summer league basketball game for Fort Defiance High School tonight.  They had lost the first game to a powerhouse team from Parry McClure which featured a 6’ 9” Division I player.  Their second game was against Spotswood, the premier team in our area.  But Spotswood didn’t have their star player tonight, another Division I prospect, so we thought Fort had a chance.  Indeed, they built up at 13 point lead at the half and held on to win it 55 – 48.  Henry had a good solid game though he was exhausted by the end because Spotswood has a good inside game and he had to work hard.  When he came out, Gus substituted for him.  The varsity had asked three boys from the JV team to play with them tonight since Fort was missing some of its players so Gus had on the same uniform as Henry for the first time in many years.  And Gus did a decent job including one bucket and no turnovers.  It was fun to watch and winning games like this should give them some confidence.  One of Fort’s players, Tyreek Veney, was superb tonight.  He must have had 30 of Fort’s points.

I’ll try to keep writing while we’re on the road but I may not have as much free time to keep up.  We’ll see…

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 27                Infected                   Died

World             181,861,268           3,938,817

US                     34,494,677              619,424

Virginia                679,829                11,397

Augusta County       5,985                       77

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,004,641  (4,300,206 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,867  (33,264 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 28, 2021

Our first day of our New England vacation!  Before we left, I made a trash run with garbage from our house and the Gutshall’s.  When I returned home, Lynn and I loaded the Venza.  I mean we LOADED it!  It was packed with barely enough room for Freddie and Betsy to fit in the back seat.  My goal was to leave at 9:00.  We were at the Gutshall’s by 8:45 and actually left shortly after 9:00 which was good.

We (Lynn) did more driving today than we’ll do on most days.  Our first stop was at a Walmart in Martinsburg WV where Lynn wanted to look for a shirt and the rest of us needed a bathroom break.  Then we headed on to the Tricking Springs Creamery in Chambersburg PA for lunch.

Our entire ride today was on I-81.  The traffic around Harrisonburg was awful, as usual, but it did get a little better by the time we entered West Virginia, then Maryland, then Pennsylvania.  We traveled in tandem with Lynn leading the way in our Venza and Ann, Josh, Henry, and Gus following in their Rav 4.  One fear I had all along was that we’d run into some interstate accident with traffic completely stopped on the way.  We see these all the time around Staunton and Harrisonburg.

Our stop at Trickling Springs Market and Creamery was a superb one.  They advertised ice cream from Smith Mountain Creamery which Lynn and I went to on our ice cream trip earlier this year.  Lynn had a milkshake she loved with chocolate peanut butter ice cream and made with chocolate milk.  I had something I’d never had before—a pretzel hot dog—which was a hot dog cooked in a pretzel bun.  It came with cheese for dipping.  Super!  For dessert I had a two scoops of delicious caramel pretzel ice cream.  The Gutshalls all had bountiful lunches, too, with roast beef sandwiches, pretzel hot dogs, and ice cream for dessert.  Another reason this was a good stop was the timing—we got there right at noon. 

We weren’t in a big hurry because our reservation was at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Best Western Hotel which was 2 ½ hours from Trickling Springs.  Today was very hot with temperatures in the 90’s so the outdoor pool there was something everyone looked forward to.

We got to the hotel around 3:45.  We were given adjoining rooms, each with two queen beds.  It was too hot outside to go swimming then, so I hooked up my laptop to the tv in our room and we played a couple of games of Jeopardy.  Then we decided to head out for dinner.

We wanted Ann’s family to pick the restaurant and they chose Ale Mary’s, a pub in downtown Scranton.  We drove there, arriving around 5:45 and were told it would be a 30 minute wait.  It turned out to be longer than that.  Their menu, available online only, was extensive and they had some specials, one of which was a burger with macaroni and cheese in gouda cheese.  Henry, Freddie, and I all ordered this.  Lynn got a salad, and Gus got a shrimp dish.  Betsy ordered a cauliflower dish.  It took forever for our food to arrive and, when it did, they neglected to bring Betsy’s and Freddie’s.  Once again we waited and waited until finally the waitress apologized that their orders had been lost and would be reordered.  They ended up not charging us for Freddie and Betsy’s meal though they tacked on a 20% gratituity because there were eight of us.  Our food was good but there was way too much of it.  We all left gobs of mac and cheese on our plates.

We were in the restaurant for over two hours.  I was anxious that the kids weren’t going to get to swim.  I chose this hotel specifically because it had an outdoor pool and wanted them to get to spend time in it.  We got back and they got changed.  Though the pool said it closed at 8:00, actually they got to stay in it until 9:00.  It wasn’t a great pool, but it was a pool, it was outside, and it gave them a way to cool off and play.  I loved hearing them giggle.

It was a long day, so we settled back in at the hotel and made plans for tomorrow’s trip to Springfield MA.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 28                Infected                   Died

World             181,179,904           3,945,087

US                     34,511,363              619,592

Virginia                679,917                11,402

Augusta County       5,984                       77

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,015,280  (4,306,417 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,895  (33,281 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.) 

June 29, 2021

Today was another day of long riding/driving.  We left the hotel between Scranton and Wilkes Barre around 8:30 and headed to a Sheetz in Scranton because the breakfast at the Best Western was awful.  Fortunately, Ann had the Sheetz app on her phone so we were able to get our entire breakfast ordered and it was ready when we got there.

From there, it was a 3 ½ hour drive to Wethersfield CT where I had found an ice creamery that I thought Lynn would like.  The others agreed to go along with it.  We ran into some slowdowns on I-84 East so we had to hustle in order to make it to the Naismith Hall of Fame in plenty of time to get our moneys worth there.  So we grabbed our ice cream then went straight to the Hall of Fame.

I can’t praise Betsy and Freddie enough for their behavior in our cramped back seat.  They have both been superb travelers.  Betsy has had her phone and Freddie my iPad (with Disney Plus) to occupy themselves.  But neither has whined or complained about anything despite spending the last two days strapped into a confined space in our Venza.

Here’s a real interesting irony:  twelve years ago, Lynn and I made a New England drive of our own.  On that trip, we loaded into her van a large model of a colonial house that Lynn had won in a fund raising raffle years before.  The model house was at least four feet long by two feet wide.  It was constructed by a Waynesboro resident and was very detailed. It must have been worth some money but we got to the point in our house where it just took up space.  We called the house it was modeled after, the Buttolph – Williams home, which now is a museum which charges admission.  They didn’t express any interest in it so we called the nearby elementary school who said they’d be glad to have it.  So in 2009 Lynn and I and the school principal carried it into the school in Wethersfield CT.  They seemed very appreciative of our donation.

Guess where the ice cream shop we stopped at today was?  Wethersfield CT, just one mile from the Buttolph – Williams home!  We drove by it to show the kids.

We were able to make it to Springfield MA in time for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.  It was a very good visit.  There were three floors of exhibits, some interactive, which kept all of our attentions.  The bottom floor was a basketball court with various height baskets and even a peach basket as one.  The exhibits featured such things as how small Bugsy Bogues was (5’ 3”) to how tall Yao Ming was (7’ 5”).  Shaquille O’Neal’s size 22 shoes were on display.  The history of basketball was highlighted.  It was a fine place to visit and we had plenty of time to explore it.

I took lots of pictures inside the Hall of Fame.  We were there around two hours.  From there, we found out hotel and checked in.

The Best Western Hotel last night was not a welcoming place at all.  The desk staff were downright snarly and there were plenty of signs saying things like “No public bathrooms.”   They had a sign in the bathrooms that said if you forgot anything, ask at the front desk and you’d be given it.  Well, two of Ann’s kids forgot their toothbrushes yet when they asked they were told they didn’t have any to hand out but she could buy them for $3.00 each.  I mentioned that the breakfast was awful.  Well, the Hampton Inn we stayed at tonight was a pleasant change.  The staff were all extremely welcoming and accommodating.  Ann was given two toothbrushes for her boys.  The outdoor pool was much nicer. 

After our bad experience with dinner last night, I decided to pick the restaurant for tonight.  I found one online and e-mailed it to Ann and family and they all agreed to give it a try.  Then I called them and made sure they could seat the eight of us. 

The restaurant was named Liberty’s Mediterranean Giant Grinders.  With 74 reviews on Trip Advisor it was rated a 5.0 out of 5.  Yet when we pulled up there we were the only ones dining in.  There was no air conditioning and it was very, very hot!  But all of us agreed that it was a great restaurant.  It was run by four Palestinians who worked hard to prepare our meal.  Lynn and I split a steak and cheese grinder.  Gus had friend chicken.  Henry and Josh split a large grinder.  Betsy had something meatless.  It was a wonderful meal.

After the meal, we returned to the hotel.  We then took turns doing some nearby shopping since there was a Costco, Aldi’s, and a donut store nearby we’re going to tap into for breakfast tomorrow.

Lynn and I had a funny experience.  She needed her ice tea so we went to a McDonald’s a mile away from the hotel.  We went to the drive thru to order.  First, we were told they were out of large cups.  Then we were told they could sell us a medium tea but it would cost more than the large tea.  Then they said they were out of tea.  I asked them “What DO you have?”  She response came back, “Not much.”  So we went to another McDonalds a mile further on.  It had the tea but when we paid $2,00 for the $1.49 tea, the lady gave me 26¢ back then told me she was out of quarters.  I told her I’d take two dimes and a nickel.  She said she didn’t have any of those, either.  So Lynn told her we’d take 25 pennies and we did.

Tonight the kids played in the pool for a while then they showered and came to our room for a few more games of Jeopardy.  That Jeopardy site has worked out well.  I’ve created lots more games for the rest of our time in Maine.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 28                Infected                   Died

World             182,580,354           3,953,846

US                     34,527,493              619,980

Virginia                680,065                11,412

Augusta County       5,986                       78

            Vaccinated

            Virginia 9,028,951  (4,314,592 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 70.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)         

            Augusta County        65,985  (33,337 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

May 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

May 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 1                   Infected                   Died

World             152,782,495           3,205,670

US                     33,145,463              590,700

Virginia                660,553                10,777

Augusta County       5,727                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 2                   Infected                   Died

World             153,478,505           3,216,128

US                     33,145,463              590,700

Virginia                661,314                10,791

Augusta County       5,726                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 3                   Infected                   Died

World             154,173,758           3,226,727

US                     33,230,136              591,512

Virginia                661,925                10,807

Augusta County       5,726                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, the good news is not world-wide: 

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

May 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 details:

May 4                   Infected                   Died

World             154,947,338           3,239,744

US                     33,271,708              592,354

Virginia                662,696                10,823

Augusta County       5,730                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 5                   Infected                   Died

World             155,813,271           3,254,877

US                     33,320,979              593,134

Virginia                663,538                10,844

Augusta County       5,743                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 6                   Infected                   Died

World             156,654,032           3,268,534

US                     33,364,941              593,970

Virginia                664,394                10,861

Augusta County       5,748                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 7                   Infected                   Died

World             157,525,451           3,283,197

US                     33,418,437              594,908

Virginia                665,332                10,874

Augusta County       5,756                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 8                   Infected                   Died

World             158,295,493           3,295,856

US                     33,452,499              595,574

Virginia                661,111                10,885

Augusta County       5,774                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 9                   Infected                   Died

World             158,954,447           3,306,240

US                     33,476,803              595,812

Virginia                666,650                10,895

Augusta County       5,776                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 13, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

May 14, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 14                 Infected                   Died

World             162,500,854           3,370,362

US                     33,657,689              599,265

Virginia                669,219                10,991

Augusta County       5,814                       71

            Vaccinated

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

            Augusta County        Data not available due to server maintenance.

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

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

May 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 15                 Infected                   Died

World             163,161,480           3,382,985

US                     33,695,503              599,844

Virginia                             Data not available

Augusta County                Data not available

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                                  Data not available       

            Augusta County                    Data not available

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

May 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 16                 Infected                   Died

World             163,698,954           3,392,776

US                     33,713,089              600,139

Virginia                670,184                11,018

Augusta County       5,820                       71

            Vaccinated

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

            Augusta County        Data not available

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

May 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 17                 Infected                   Died

World             164,262,507           3,403,994

US                     33,747,391              600,529

Virginia                670,456                11,029

Augusta County       5,825                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 18                 Infected                   Died

World             164,879,264           3,418,033

US                     33,774,153              601,311

Virginia                670,834                11,042

Augusta County       5,827                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 19. 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s improving coronavirus statistics:

May 19                 Infected                   Died

World             165,549,323           3,431,495

US                     33,802,324              601,949

Virginia                671,325                11,048

Augusta County       5,838                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 20                 Infected                   Died

World             165,835,297           3,444,303

US                     33,833,181              602,616

Virginia                671,916                11,068

Augusta County       5,843                       72

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 21                 Infected                   Died

World             166,436,464           3,456,590

US                     33,858,908              603,373

Virginia                672,312                11,074

Augusta County       5,849                       72

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 22                 Infected                   Died

World             167,029,906           3,468,045

US                     33,880,968              603,868

Virginia                672,973                11,097

Augusta County       5,857                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 23, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 23                 Infected                   Died

World             167,516,369           3,478,187

US                     33,896,660              604,087

Virginia                673,029                11,106

Augusta County       5,861                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 24, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 24                 Infected                   Died

World             167,979,680           3,486,961

US                     33,922,937              604,416

Virginia                673,105                11,116

Augusta County       5,870                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 25                 Infected                   Died

World             168,513,226           3,499,417

US                     33,947,189              605,208

Virginia                673,759                11,137

Augusta County       5,870                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 26                 Infected                   Died

World             169,067,580           3,511,748

US                     33,971,207              606,179

Virginia                674,082                11,143

Augusta County       5,874                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 27                 Infected                   Died

World             169,615,295           3,524,490

US                     33,999,680              607,726

Virginia                674,439                11,152

Augusta County       5,879                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 28, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 28                 Infected                   Died

World             170,113,252           3,536,897

US                     34,022,118              608,946

Virginia                674,843                11,156

Augusta County       5,884                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

May 29                 Infected                   Died

World             170,606,970           3,547,757

US                     34,034,505              609,416

Virginia                675,165                11,160

Augusta County       5,892                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

Here are the COVID-19 numbers for today:

May 30                 Infected                   Died

World             171,096,112           3,558,173

US                     34,043,068              609,544

Virginia                675,538                11,186

Augusta County       5,901                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 31, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 31                 Infected                   Died

World             171,455,727           3,564,764

US                     34,113,146              609,767

Virginia                675,538                11,186

Augusta County       5,901                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

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


 

April 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

April 1, 2021

What a cold, blustery day!  The high today was in the low 40’s with a stiff winter wind and blowing snow at times.  Quite an un-spring like first day of April!

As a result, I didn’t get any outside exercise today which I badly need.  I did ride my bike on the trainer for an hour this morning and walked with Lynn at the Harrisonburg mall for about two miles tonight.  I’m still way out of shape.

We were going to go to Brazil this year but tonight’s news showed how they are having nearly 4,000 deaths per day due to COVID-19 now and can’t even bury their dead fast enough.  I’m so glad we postponed that trip.  It is called the epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America. 

I didn’t accomplish much today which has been typical for the last few weeks, sadly.  I was able to help Ann’s family out a little by meeting Betsy and Freddie when they rode the bus here after school then going to Fort Defiance to get Gus from his season-end basketball meeting.  Then I took all of them home.  Ann had homecoming activities at Broadway this evening (Brrrr…) so I’m glad I could help them a little.

This afternoon I did play around some with Lynn’s new Venza, discovering some of its net features.  I can not only receive texts and read them to the driver, it can also compose and send texts from the driver’s voice.  It can locate most anything you’d give it voice commands to find (“Find the nearest McDonald’s” or “What are the directions to Kay Foy’s house?” or “What’s the weather forecast tomorrow in Roanoke?”).  It can open the back hatch with a kick of the foot under the car.  It can charge Lynn’s phone without her having to plug it in to one of the four USB ports. 

I did have an extended phone call today with Justin Rexrode, our Edward Jones Financial Representative.  Our retirement funds have done very well under his advisement.  We have about 75% of our investments with Justin at Edward Jones and another 25% with the company aligned with Rockingham County Public Schools, Lincoln Financial.  My dad lived through the Great Depression and always told me to not put all of my eggs in one basket.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 1                  Infected                   Died

World             130,147,630           2,839,127

US                     31,244,497              566,282

Virginia                620,801                10,268

Augusta County       5,399                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,850,838  (1,375,802 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,801  (17,323 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I don’t think it’s surprising that Augusta County’s great increase in vaccinations has led to a dramatic decrease in new cases—only one new case today, no new deaths, and no more hospitalizations.  But the US and world are still under a siege from COVID-19.

April 2, 2021

Today was another frigid day for early April.  At least the forecast over the next week calls for much improved weather.  Tomorrow is our scheduled Easter Egg Hunt; the temperature for tomorrow afternoon is supposed to be in the high 50’s or low 60’s.  Next week we’re supposed to be back in the 70’s.

I need to be riding my bike outside some.  So far I’ve been limited to the trainer set up in the family room downstairs.  At least I can watch CNN while I pedal.  Today I rode for right at one hour.

Lynn had some interpreting to do today.  Her first one was at McGaheysville Elementary School and her second one was from home via Zoom.  I didn’t do a lot while waiting on her but as soon as she got back she and I went to Central and got another large load of food for the Aguirre family.  We also bought a lot of groceries at Kroger for ourselves and our company this weekend.  We then delivered the food to Elizabeth and came home to unload our groceries.   I had to make one more short run to Food Lion to get a few things Kroger didn’t have plus some McDonald’s coupons to send to Jim’s kids tomorrow in their Easter basket Lynn will prepare.

This being Friday, we also went to the Old Schoolhouse Food Truck for our weekly hamburgers.  It was a busy afternoon.

Here is some good news:  Pfizer said Thursday that trials suggest that their vaccine is effective against a coronavirus variant that first emerged in South Africa, which some experts worry might evade existing shots. They also said in a statement that 12,000 people involved in their Phase 3 trial experienced high levels of protection against Covid-19 six months after their second doses, with no serious safety concerns.  The company said Wednesday that their vaccine is safe and effective in teenagers ages 12 to 15. They plan to request emergency use authorization for those ages in the coming weeks.  Pfizer is also studying how well the vaccine works in children ages 6 months to 11 years. The first doses in that trial were administered last week.

Ever since Jim mounted the birdhouses and Lynn filled them with birdseed, the birds have been loving our property.  We’ve had a good mix of bird varieties, all very colorful.  Tonight as I looked out the window I could see a dozen or so birds vying for the seed.  In the Link’s field next to us I could see more than 40 cows and four Alpacas.  In the Mezzoni’s field there were about ten deer feeding.  It is nice to live in the country where humans are way outnumbered by animals!  In other neighbor’s fields we see horses, goats, sheep, and Winnie the pig.

I’ve seen lots of commercials mocking how people becoming their parents.  Prior to this year, Lynn never paid much attention to the birds.  Her mother loved them and spent lots of time watching them.  Well, Lynn has become her Mom.  Maybe watching them somehow reminds her of her mother.  That’s a good thing. 

Henry got the good news tonight that he was accepted into the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School for next year.  Super!  Here’s what their website says:  One of 19 Governor’s Schools in the state of Virginia, the purpose of SVGS is to provide an integrated math, science and technology program and an integrated arts and humanities program in a unique environment.  SVGS has programs and courses designed to meet the unique needs of advanced ability and highly motivated students. Students may attend in one of two broad curriculum areas, Arts & Humanities and Sciences (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

We made some plans today for tomorrow’s family visits.  Kay and her family are expected around 2:00 and have agreed to stay for dinner.  We got some suggestions from her for dinner and also some ideas from Ann.  Jim hopes to join us for dinner.  Here’s what I sent to each of them regarding dinner:  For dinner tomorrow night we’d like to offer that we’ll have pepperoni rolls, pimento cheese sandwiches, fruit, tomato & mozzarella cheese sticks, deviled eggs, potato chips AND we’ll make a run to Chicano Boy to pick up whatever else anyone wants. We have cake for dessert and lemonade, soft drinks, or milk to drink.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 2                  Infected                   Died

World             130,791,581           2,849,974

US                     31,311,321              567,519

Virginia                622,339                10,279

Augusta County       5,399                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,957,289  (1,416,919 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,803  (17,722 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Wow—Augusta County had zero new cases, zero new deaths, and zero new hospitalizations.  I hope this isn’t a data entry error.  The news said that twenty states were experiencing a rise in the number of cases but Virginia was not among them.  Perhaps vaccination is starting to pay off.  The CDC did say today that vaccinated adults should feel safe to travel anywhere within the United States they wanted.  I am concerned that the number of hospitalizations hasn’t decreased in Augusta County.  It remains at 152.  I would have thought some of those hospitalized would have improved and be sent home by now.

April 3, 2021

The weather was better today with temperatures in the 50’s but not as good as it will be tomorrow and the days following.  But at least it sufficed for our family Easter egg hunt.

We’ve had Easter egg hunts at our house for decades.  Last year the pandemic stopped that tradition but today it was revived.  We didn’t have as many kids as usual but we did have six of our eight grandchildren:  Henry, Gus, Betsy, Freddie, Thomas, and Georgia.  Of course, I took lots and lots of pictures.  Lynn fixed a ton of snack and dinner food as I detailed in yesterday’s post.  Since the kids are older now, I made one part of the egg different this year.  I numbered six eggs 1 through 6, put a silver dollar in each, and hid them in some rather difficult places in the back yard.  I also wrote down where I had hidden each of the six so I could provide hints if one or more were unfound.  Actually, I expected most of them to be unfound because I hid them well.  When the kids came, I told them they were allowed to find only one of these special eggs per person.  If they discovered a second one then they had to leave it. 

It worked out well.  They did find about half of the special eggs without any hints.  The hunt was late getting started as they didn’t get here until 3:00 but from 3:00 to 7:00 we had a big family party including lots of food and fun.  Jim came around 5:00.

The six grandchildren played so well outside.  They did everything:  hunted eggs, hid eggs for the adults, played on the playground set, rode big wheels on the tennis court, did crafts with Lynn coloring cookies, played tennis, played basketball, played kickball in the field, swang on the pergola, ate lots of food, and got along very, very well.  It was a little chilly but quite bearable.  It was a very fine afternoon.  I feel so blessed.

In the meantime Lynn had fixed a pile of food.  Plus, we placed a big order at Chicano Boys’ Taco in Staunton.  Ann picked it up and we ate on the back porch.

The reason the kids were late in getting here is that Ann’s family met Kay’s family at Humpback Rock on Blue Ridge Parkway for a hike.  It was good that they got together.

Kay gave us some very good news today—she gets her first vaccine shot this coming Thursday.  Andy has already had his first so when she gets her shots all of the adults in our family will have been vaccinated.  Josh gets his second one soon and the rest of us already have two under our belts.  Hooray!

I took over 100 pictures today.  I tried to capture all of the activities the kids did while they were here.  Unfortunately, most of the shots of people were of them wearing masks.  That’s a sign of the times, I guess. 

Yes, COVID-19 is still with us and we’re lucky to have avoided it thus far.  Here are the international, national, state, and local statistics for today:

April 3                  Infected                   Died

World             131,327,017           2,858,229

US                     31,381,702              568,496

Virginia                623,881                10,287

Augusta County       5,403                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,071,088  (1,467,640 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,983  (17,760 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

The NCAA men’s basketball semifinals were played today.  Baylor thoroughly beat Houston in the first game.  The other game was Gonzaga versus UCLA which didn’t start until late.

April 4, 2021

Today was Easter Sunday.  Lynn and I did something we hadn’t done in a year—went to an in-person church service at Central.  Central had decided to re-open on Easter Sunday because more and more of its elderly members had been vaccinated.  Indeed, there were at least 60 people in the sanctuary today, all dispersed by six foot barriers throughout.  It was really good to see people I literally hadn’t seen in a year. 

I had some extra responsibilities with the service.  I had been asked by Yi-Ping Chen if I could broadcast the video she had put together via Zoom of choir members singing “Because He Lives.”  Plus, Pastor Won had set up a laptop with the bulletin and communion service put into Powerpoint format so it could be projected for the attendees to see.  He asked me to advance the slides during the service.  We had a minor snafu in that his laptop wouldn’t play Yi-Ping’s video but I had Lynn’s MacBook with me so I queued up the video on it and, when it came time in the service for it, simply switched the input cables to the projector.  It all worked fine.

After church we picked up soup not only for ourselves but also for the Gutshalls and Aquirre family thanks to Millie Brown.  We brought it all home so we could refrigerate it until they pick it up.  The Gutshalls came over for dinner tonight and Elizabeth and family are coming here tomorrow for another Easter egg hunt.

The weather was nicer today than yesterday so after we ate lunch Lynn and I took our standard two mile walk.  I don’t know why sometimes this walk is very easy for me and other days it hurts.  Today was a hurting day.

Jim did a Facetime call with us this morning so we could see Faron and Coen on Easter morning.  They were very talkative as usual.

I ended up staying up for the second semifinal basketball game last night and it was a good one.  Gonzaga won in overtime when one of its players hit a midcourt shot as time expired to give them a 93 – 90 win.  Now it’s Baylor vs Gonzaga in the finals.  I’m pulling for Baylor.  By the way, if Baylor does win then Josh wins the Worthington pool.  If Gonzaga beats Baylor, Thomas wins the pool.  So either way two of my favorites will become richer!  Alas, I’m in 31st place out of 33 with no hope of going higher.

We had another fine meal tonight with Ann, Josh, and kids.  Lynn fixed a prime rib roast which was delicious.  She also made asparagus a different way that was tasty.  We ate outside since the weather was nice but later in the evening it got a little chilly so we came in.  Before that, I played basketball with Freddie a couple of times. 

Henry left me with some math problems he wants to do with me tomorrow.  I’ll try to get a headstart on them before they come over in the afternoon.  The class he’s taking this year, Pre-Calculus, is one I taught almost every year I taught school.

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

April 4                  Infected                   Died

World             131,894,417           2,865,483

US                     31,419,597              568,765

Virginia                625,148                10,329

Augusta County       5,415                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,174,326  (1,519,021 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,196  (17,792 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I’ve seen several news reports this week detailing how poorly COVID-19 has been contained in other countries, notably Brazil.  I believe 2021 is a good year to travel strictly within the United States.  I am almost sure that our trip to Portugal and Spain will be delayed until 2022.

April 5, 2021

Not only did we have an Easter egg hunt this year for the first time in two years, we had two of them!  Emily and Nathan came over this afternoon and the Gutshalls came back for a second backyard Easter egg hunt.  The Gutshalls were good sports about doing this again.  And I think all of the kids had a good time playing together again today.  The weather was gorgeous.

After the egg hunt was over, the kids were all swinging in the pergola and I had an idea for them to play a game that I used to have my General Math students do 45 years ago.  We were already sitting in a circle, of course, in the pergola so I taught them to play the game where each seat is numbered 1, 2, 3, etc.  The person sitting in seat 1 is the “King” and simply announces a different seat number.  The person sitting in that seat simply has to quickly respond with another number (not his own) and the game continues until someone neglects to respond when their number is called, calls their own number, or sputters in responding.  When a person misses, he moves to the last chair and everyone behind him moves up one seat, taking on a new number.  The game seems so simple but is surprisingly hard to play, especially when players learn to be more devious such as calling out “3” while looking directly as person #2.  From Henry down to Nathan, the kids seemed to like this game.  Freddie played for a while but it may have been a little too old of a game for him. 

I used to do this game in classes with twenty or more students in them.  It always surprised me who would do well in this game and who would not.  The success at this game did not seem to be that correlated to academic ability.  I can remember one General Math student of mine who was not a particularly good math student but once she got in Chair #1 it was impossible to dislodge her.  Today, everyone at one point made it to Chair #1 but no one stayed there for an inordinate amount of time before missing.

Lynn had lots of snacks ready for the kids which I enjoyed as well.  So when the families all left around 4:30 we weren’t the slightest bit hungry.  So we went for our two mile walk then came home and ate dinner.  We warmed up some of the prime rib roast Lynn had made yesterday which was superb.

Tonight was the NCAA men’s basketball championship.  I vowed to stay up and watch it though it didn’t start until 9:00 so I’ll have to write about it tomorrow.

This morning I spent three hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work.  Today was April 5, a Monday, so I had lots of beginning-of-month work to do.  I was successful in getting all of the four bank accounts reconciled and two of the three credit cards reconciled.  Pastor Won wasn’t there for me to give me his credit card records so I’ll do that later.  I also paid a few bills and made the deposit from today’s counters.  It was a large one since yesterday was Easter and we had a good offering from our first in-person service in 2021.  I also paid the federal taxes which are paid monthly and submitted a tax form, Form 941, which must be submitted every three months.  So it was a very successful day for me at CUMC.

I got back from Central just in time to get the eggs hidden for the afternoon Easter egg hunt.  The word “hidden” doesn’t really apply as only some of them were actually concealed a little; others were merely scattered around the yard.  But there were around 250 eggs in all in our back yard!

It was good to see Gilberto today.  Elizabeth brought him over to pick up the kids at the end of the party.  He told us he was doing better each day.

While he was here this afternoon, I also did Henry’s math problems with him.  Actually I had gotten an early start on them last night and this morning so all I had to do was check my work with his as he did the problems.  They were about exponential growth, logarithms including natural logarithms and base e, and included practical problems such as computing future worth of investments compounded at various times and car depreciation.  I enjoyed doing the problems.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 5                  Infected                   Died

World             132,389,797           2,873,069

US                     31,484,402              569,180

Virginia                626,171                10,360

Augusta County       5,414                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,224,890  (1,543,719 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,789  (18,153 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

This means that 54% of Augusta County residents have been vaccinated with at least one shot.  Yippee!  I know that’s why the number of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations has slowed to a crawl.  I hope this continues.  There are several COVID-19 mutations spreading through the United States now.  It really gripes me that some people refuse to get their shots because the only way this virus will go away is if enough people are immune to it that it has no one left to spread to.  As long as there are anti-vaxers out there we will have to live with COVID-19.  These people are not only stupid, they are also selfish.

April 6, 2021

I did stay up to watch the basketball game last night but it wasn’t a close game at all.  Baylor blew Gonzaga away to win the national championship.  And whether it was the adrenalin from the basketball game or the caffeine from the Coke Zero I drank earlier in the evening, I couldn’t sleep well at all.  One thing I’ve appreciated about retirement is getting a good night’s sleep but that didn’t happen last night.

I needed to be well rested, too, as I played tennis with Marc Kinder, Rob Cale, and Won Un today at Mary Baldwin College.  It was a very nice day to play, sunny and warm.  We met at 11:00 and played until 1:00 in 77o weather.  I was whipped when we finished.  I did manage to be on the winning team for both sets.  Rob and I beat Marc and Won 9 – 7 in a marathon.  Then Won and I came back from being down 5 – 2 to beat Marc and Rob 7 – 5.  For me, the combination of being out of shape, little sleep last night, hot weather for this time of the year, plus a nagging injury to my upper right arm made it a struggle though I enjoyed it.  I believe I hurt my arm when I played last week and today it really ached, especially when I served.

Lynn was able to schedule Physical Therapy today in lieu of having it this Friday since we’ll be in Pennsylvania then.  She had it again tomorrow.  After her PT this morning, her Cheryl friends came over to visit while I left to play tennis.

Before I did, I took Cheryl Kent up to Simmons Auto Repair.  She had been told by a Staunton repair shop that her car had a leak in the main engine seal and it would cost over $2,300 to have it repaired.  She had heard us talk about how competent and fair Brian and Tommy Simmons are so she thought she’d get a second opinion.  Brian concurred that she needed the work done but told her it would cost $1,700.  That’s a big savings!  She’s going to have the work done at Simmons later this month.

Ann has spring break this week with Rockingham County Public Schools though her kids aren’t so lucky in Augusta County.  They only got Friday and Monday off around Easter so they were back in school today.  But this meant that she could pick up Freddie when he got here this afternoon.  Actually, she allowed Freddie and me to play one game of PIG shooting basketball first.  I’ve played him four times in the past week and my record is 0 – 4.

After dinner tonight Lynn needed a grocery item so we went to Bridgewater IGA to get it.  Of course, on the way back we stopped at Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

Josh got his second vaccine shot today.  Hooray!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 6                  Infected                   Died

World             132,990,226           2,884,845

US                     31,558,576              570,231

Virginia                627,605                10,401

Augusta County       5,426                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,277,076  (1,571,239 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,909  (18,201 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are now 156 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  Vaccinations or not the virus is still going strong here.

Lynn and I are getting ready for our three day trip coming up this Thursday through Saturday.  We’re going to be meeting Butch and Mary K. for dinner in Altoona on Friday night.

April 7, 2021

Whew!  This morning the weather was nice and I decided to ride my bike in the neighborhood while Lynn went into Staunton.  I took my bike off the trainer, filled the tires with air, grabbed my helmet and off I rode.  The problem is that there is NOWHERE around here even remotely flat.  My legs hurt less than ½ mile from home.  I rode what maps out to be an 8 mile ride past Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church, down to Todd Road, out to Gray Fox road, back to Salem Church Road, up to Cider Mill Road, back to Mount Pisgah Church, then home.  In actual miles I’m sure the trip was more like 11 – 12 miles because I did corkscrews on every hill to make them more bearable.  My, did my legs hurt.  The rest of me, including my bottom, did fine.  I was exhausted when I got back home, a little over an hour later.  Todd and Gray Fox roads I am seldom on and I thought I remembered them as being basically flat.  Wrong!  It seemed like each hill had ten minutes of pain resulting in one minute of downhill relaxation.  If I knew that the Katy Trail was hilly, I would never have agreed to ride with the group from May 10 – 15.  As it is, where we enter the Katy Trail the elevation is 571 ft. above sea level and when we leave the trail four days later it is 452 ft. above with zero hills between.  That’s why I think I can make it. 

 On our Midwest trip in 2017 Lynn and I rode our bikes on the Katy Trail in three states:  Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The original railroad trail was called the MKT trail for Missouri, Kansas, Texas but the name got shortened to just the Katy Trail.  When Lynn and I rode we didn’t do any long distances in any of the states.  In Missouri we rode near to where the five of us are going to ride in May. 

My cousin Nick lives very near to the place we’re going to stay on May 10 and where we’ll be leaving our vehicles for when we get back.  Today was Nick’s 71st birthday so I texted him birthday greetings and asked if he’d be around on May 10 so perhaps I could see him for a little while.

I think Lynn’s bike riding days are just about over.  Her back has been giving her lots of pain lately.  Her Physical Therapist recommended that she not ride for now.  So on the trip we’re going to take tomorrow we’re not even taking her bike.  On the trails I had previously planned for us to both ride on, she’ll walk and I’ll ride.

We’ve got no plans to put a bike rack on her new Venza so when we pass the Rav4 on to Ann and family, the only vehicle we’ll have left with a hitch is my Toyota truck which Jim currently has.  It has about 150,000 miles on it so we won’t be taking it on any long bike hikes when I get it back from him.  And that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon.

When Lynn got back from Staunton around lunchtime she wanted to walk so my tired legs then walked two miles with her.  Actually I did fine with the walk.  Riding a bike and walking use different leg muscles, for sure.

This evening, after dinner, we took some soup from Central out to the Aquirre family.  We usually take them food on Saturday but we won’t be able to this week since we’ll be out of town.

In the news tonight, the UK variant is now the most dominant COVID-19 strain in the US now.  It is more deadly and contagious.  The CDC said they are seeing more young people in hospitals now with hospital cases increasing in more than 16 states (though not in Virginia).  38 states (but not Virginia) now offer vaccinations to anyone 16 and over.   Some good news is that antibodies from the Pfizer and Moderna still remain at a high level at six months from when the vaccine is given. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

April 7                  Infected                   Died

World             133,664,461           2,897,302

US                     31,632,180              571,081

Virginia                629,155                10,415

Augusta County       5,487                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,344,970  (1,604,477 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        41,522  (18,438 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

I’ll be writing in this blog from Frederick, MD tomorrow evening then from Altoona, PA the next night.  Lynn and I are looking forward to eating lots of ice cream, walking and/or riding bikes, and visiting with both my brother and sister.  My brother had a MRI yesterday that left him worrying about lots of possible things that could be wrong, but the results came back today with nothing to worry about.  He was greatly relieved, of course. So was I!

April 8, 2021

Today was the first day of our three day road trip.  It was a good one with great weather, good ice cream, and good bike riding and walking.  The day worked out just as we had planned.

We left home around 9:00 AM knowing that our first stop was at Moo Thru Creamery in Remington VA which was 1 hour 50 minutes from home and they didn’t open until 11:00 AM.  Indeed, we got there a few minutes early and had to wait for them to open.  It was worth the wait.  Lynn had a sundae made of dark chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce on it (no surprise).  I had one scoop of cookies and cream and one scoop of sweet cream ice cream topped with caramel sauce.  Their ice cream was great–almost as good as Smiley’s.  With Smiley’s grade of A+, I’d have to grade Moo Thru as a solid A.  The only issue was that our sundae’s were supposed to come with a brownie in them but their brownies weren’t ready when we were there.  They have us a couple of donuts instead. 

From Moo Thru, our next stop was 90 minute north just over the Potomac River on US 15 into Maryland.  The venue was Point of Rocks, a town along the C & O Canal Towpath.  We’ve ridden bikes on lots of other sections of the Towpath over the past ten years but never on this section.  As I mentioned yesterday, Lynn can’t ride her bike due to her back injury so she walked on the path.  She was delighted to use her Apple earpods for the first time and reported they worked great.  Meanwhile, I rode my bike four miles west, then turned around and rode four miles back to the car. 

The trail was in excellent condition.  Indeed there were plenty of other walkers and bikers on it today.  I believe that the conditions I rode in today accurately mimic the Katy Trail I’ll be riding on in May.  I tried to ride hard, anticipating that the four guys I’ll be riding on the Katy with will want to ride at a pace of at least 8 miles per hour which is what I did today.  Lynn and I both got our hour of exercise and we were both pleased.  I took lots of pictures as I rode.

My legs did hurt some but not nearly as much as yesterday as I struggled with the hills around our house.  I do need to do training runs like this one several more times this month.

Our next stop was only 10 minutes away at the Rocky Point Creamery.  Like Moo Thru, this was advertised as a farm to cone establishment.  It didn’t disappoint.  I did like the Moo Thru ice cream better but my cone of sweet cream was still delicious.  Lynn also had a sweet cream cone.  We both agreed to rate Rocky Point as a B+.  If anything, their ice cream tasted lots like the kind you’d buy at a grocery store.

While we were at Rocky Point Creamery eating our cones, another couple was parked nearby and we struck up conversation with them.  They were from Bethesda MD and were heading to a goat farm just across the Potomac in Virginia where you could buy goat cheese and hold and pet the baby goats.  We decided that we had plenty of time to spare so we headed for George’s Mill Farm in Loudoun County. 

Though we didn’t buy any goat cheese there, Lynn did pet the goats and I took pictures.  It was a nice diversion.

From George’s Mill we headed to the Hilton Garden Inn in Frederick.  We got there around 3:55.  As we were checking in there was a sign which said “Sorry but the water will be off from 4:00 – 8:00 to make repairs.”  Both of us needed to use the restroom so we hustled to our room just in the nick of time. 

Then we headed out to explore Frederick a little.  On the way we went to a Ross store because Lynn had some shoes to exchange.  We had previously agreed to eat dinner at the Black Hog BBQ in downtown Frederick.  It was a good choice.  I had a 1/2 slab of ribs and Lynn got Texas brisket.  We exchanged our meats with each other along with the sides.  Both of us ended up with way too much to eat.

Frederick is a neat town.  It is an old town but the parts we were in were not run down at all.  In the suburbs there are sidewalks everywhere to walk on.  We saw several nice parks and drove to one where we hope to ride/walk tomorrow morning if the weather permits.  There were hundreds of people in the park playing baseball, t-ball, soccer, tennis, etc. 

When we got back to the hotel, we decided to walk the 0.6 mile distance to the nearest McDonalds.  Lynn always likes McDonald’s sweet tea when we travel so we got tea tonight for her breakfast tomorrow morning.  It was a nice walk.  We took advantage of the nice sidewalks in this community.

A full day it was–and a great one.  The worrisome thing about tomorrow is that there is a 40% chance of rain.  We’ll just play it by ear.  The first ice cream stop tomorrow doesn’t open until 11:00 so if we can’t ride in the morning we’ll have to find something else to do.

On our way this morning Kay called with some great news: she had just gotten her first Pfizer vaccine shot.  Now all of the adults in my immediate family have received some or all of their vaccines.  In three weeks everyone will be fully vaccinated.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 8                  Infected                   Died

World             134,498,401           2,914,168

US                     31,714,311              573,819

Virginia                631,083                10,436

Augusta County       5,553                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,414,376  (1,639,623 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        42,325  (18,849 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

The number of cases in Augusta County shot up by 66.  That’s a huge number compared to the previous several days.  I’m not sure what caused that.  There are still 156 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19. 

April 9, 2021

We awoke to drizzle so we initially thought our plans of riding bikes and walking on Frederick County’s Bellanger Creek trail were going to have to be ditched.  While Lynn took her shower, I drove to the bakery we had picked out, Stone Hearth Bakery in downtown Frederick, and picked up a cinnamon roll for her and an apple strudel for me.  Both were good choices.  By the time we had finished our breakfast and verified that checkout time wasn’t until noon, the rain had stopped though the clouds still looked onimous.  But weather.com said it wasn’t going to rain anymore so we trusted the forecast.

It was a good call.  The trail was only a few blocks from our hotel.  The website advertised the trail as a paved, level, 10 foot wide multiuse trail for 4.2 miles.  It turned out to be a great trail, just as advertised.  It was a little cool, in the 50’s, and there were a couple of places where the rainwater had actually covered the trail but getting around these big puddles was easy.  The trail was very smooth and easy to ride on.  I rode right at six miles.

Near the end of my ride Jim called and said he would be coming to our house midday on tomorrow, Saturday. 

Our initial travel plans were to go to two creameries today and another one tomorrow on the way home.  The third one wasn’t really on the way home; in fact, it was near to the other two.   So, when we found out that Jim was coming, we changed our itinerary to include three creamery stops today.

The first one was called Smith Mountain Creamery in Middletown, MD, about 30 minutes away from our hotel.  The people here were very nice and their ice cream was great.  Lynn had a flavor called Monocacy Mud, named after a nearby river.   It was made of chocolate, caramel, and pecans.  I had Sea Salt Caramel.  We both agreed their ice cream was an A.

By the time we had eaten our second cones of the day, we agreed that it would be hard to actually rate all five of the creameries in order.  Plus, our order would have been different.  Suffice it to say that each had great ice cream and some had other perks such as flavored ice cream cones.  At our next stop, Misty Meadow Farm Creamery in Smithsburg MD, for example, I had mine in a chocolate waffle cone.

At Misty Meadow Creamery, Lynn had a chocolate peanut butter milkshake.  I had caramel, sweet and salty in the chocolate cone.   Misty Meadow Farm Creamery was about 30 minutes away from Smith Mountain Creamery.

All of the creameries are off the beaten path.  It makes sense since all are at farms with the cows providing the cream right there.  None were that hard to find, especially with Google’s help.  Our third creamery of the day and fifth of the trip was Windy Knoll Farm Market and Creamery near Chambersburg PA.  It was less than a half an hour from Misty Meadow. 

This stop was a little different because the market had other things to offer such as candies, breads, and other grocery items.  It was run by Mennonite girls who did not wear face masks.  They had some interesting ice cream flavors.  Lynn got a cone of “Triple Chocolate Earthquake” in a pretzel cone.  I started to get “Salty Caramel Crunch” but when we asked what made it crunchy they said it was toffee which Lynn said might have nuts in it.  So I settled for cookies and cream in a sugar cone. 

Once again, the ice cream was delicious.  Every stop on this trip had excellent ice cream and provided us with reason to come back anytime we’re in the neighborhood of any of the five creameries.

The drive from Misty Meadow to Altoona was about a two hour drive.  Though it didn’t rain on us, several of the mountains we crossed were foggy.  Lynn did a fine job of driving and we were in our hotel by 3:30 in the afternoon.  We changed clothes then headed over to my sister’s house where Butch was already waiting for us.

The four of us had a good visit at her house.  Butch had brought some of Ann’s jewelry he wanted Mary K. and Lynn to take.  Mary K. took some and Lynn got the rest to bring to her sister Kay who is doing some kind of craft with this type of jewelry.

Mary Katherine told us she was pretty sure she would be moving to a house near her daughter Kit’s house.  She had told us about this house before.  It is all on one level.  Though I don’t believe she’s signed the paperwork yet, I did get the impression that the seller and she had come to terms.  The four of us plan to visit it in the morning after breakfast.

After visiting at her house for an hour or so, we loaded up in Butch’s Tesla and drove to Marzoni’s Restaurant where we met Colin, Kit, Leo, and Nora Dangler plus Joseph, Christine, and Paxton DeLeo.  The rest of Joseph’s family was away at college.  The eleven of us had a marvelous dinner which featured lots of good conversations and laughs.  For the most part, the four of us just sat back and listened to the younger ones talk.  It was lots of fun.

Of course, I got pictures of everything we did today.  I did leave my camera in Butch’s Tesla but I’ll get it tomorrow.

Lynn and I got back to our hotel around 9:30, making stops on the way there for gasoline and for her McDonald’s sweet tea for tomorrow morning.  It was a very, very good day again.  I am so thankful that I have the opportunity, money, and health to have busy and fun days like today.

All eight adults in our dinner party were vaccinated.  That made things almost normal.  Thank goodness!  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 9                  Infected                   Died

World             135,297,064           2,928,575

US                     31,802,772              574,840

Virginia                632,625                10,451

Augusta County       5,561                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,514,282  (1,683,673 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        43,129  (19,160 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 10, 2021

Our road trip ended today as we came home from Altoona.  After we awoke and loaded up all of our belongings wet met Butch at a bakery, D’lites, in Altoona.  There we had a great breakfast with each of us eating a huge and delicious cinnamon bun.  Butch and I each had coffee and we bought a cinnamon bun for Mary K.  Plus, the store gave each of us a complimentary small cupcake (which all of also donated to MK).  The bill for all of this was under $18.  This was a nice find for the next time we come back to Altoona.

Afterwards we drove to Mary K.’s house and had another good visit with her.  Then, all four of us drove (in two cars) to the house Mary K. plans to buy then on to Kit and Colin’s house.  None of the three of us, Lynn, Butch, or I, had ever been to it.  They have a nice home.  Kit wasn’t there when we got there–she had an interview at her office to hire a new receptionist for her dental practice.  She did return before we left, though.  In the meantime, we had a nice visit with Leo, Nora, and Colin. 

By 11:30 Lynn and I were on the road home.  The drive home was a little over 3 1/2 hours.  As with the rest of our trip, Lynn drove.  Butch had returned my camera when we met and I had a chance to copy my newest pictures from it to Lynn’s laptop while she drove.

The weather was very nice by the time we got to Virginia, considerably warmer than Pennsylvania.  We had talked to Jim a couple of times since he came home from Roanoke in the morning to work on the Gutshall’s lawnmower.  He spent the whole afternoon working on it.

When we got home we learned that Josh had spent the night at the hospital last night.  Apparently he had lost feeling in one side of his body yesterday and the doctors at the hospital wanted to make sure he hadn’t had a mini-stroke.  They did a bunch of tests on him and think now that he had a tiny clot that may have caused it.  He came home this afternoon, thankfully.

We got hamburgers tonight from the food truck at Valley Pike for us and Jim.  He had sharpened the blades on my mower in addition to doing all the work on the Gutshall’s.  After we ate the burgers we took him to Smiley’s for dessert.  Imagine that!

Our final decisions about ice cream were 1) all of the creameries had great ice cream  2) it was great to find five new places to get treats at the next time we are in any of their neighborhoods  3) the variety of flavors varied greatly at the creameries.  For example, it was hard for Lynn to find ice cream at any of them (except Smiley’s) that had chocolate and peanut butter  4) some creameries had much better variety in choice of cones  5) Smiley’s is still #1!

When we got home, I got lots of good picture work done with my pictures from our trip.  I ended up with 150 photos.  Here at home I made backups of each and selected a subset of them for my “Favorites” folder which is displayed as a screen saver on my computer.

We learned today that our friend Gilberto, who is finally making a decent recovery from COVID-19, learned yesterday that his mother had succumbed to it in Mexico.  So sad!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 10                Infected                   Died

World             135,945,439           2,938,750

US                     31,868,478              575,568

Virginia                634,325                10,458

Augusta County       5,571                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,615,336  (1,736,603 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        43,909  (19,539 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are now 169 hospitalizations in Augusta County from COVID-19.  Where are they putting them?  A better question is when will this number keep climbing?

The weather forecast for the next week is for highs in the 60’s each day and no rain.  Tomorrow is supposed to be the warmest day with highs reaching the mid-70’s.

April 11, 2021

Today seemed like a typical Sunday in years gone by:  I played the piano for Sunday School, we went to church, had Ann’s family over for dinner, and took a walk in the afternoon.  Of course, all of these events now are tempered by COVID-19.  The piano playing I did was via Zoom.  We did attend church service for the second time this year, though only about 30 others joined us there, nearly all of whom were vaccinated, I’m fairly sure.  We did take our usual two mile walk today in the neighborhood.  For the family dinner, we ate on the back porch then enjoyed watching the kids play in the back yard.

Butch had given to Lynn a huge stash of Ann’s old costume jewelry.  This afternoon, Kay and Donna came over and took some of it and tonight Betsy and Lynn did some work with some of the remaining itemsand Betsy took a few items home with her. 

Augusta County starts back to school four days per week on April 15.  Students don’t attend until then.  However, Henry and Gus have soccer tryouts everyday this week in the late morning and early afternoons.

Lynn has Sirius radio in her car and usually listens to channel 70 which plays old love songs from the 70’s and 80’s.  When we were on our trip this past weekend I heard a song on there I hadn’t heard for decades, “If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words” by Bread.   It brought back memories that I used to play the song many, many years ago.  The song was released in 1971 which makes it 50 years old.  I probably played it in the early and mid 70’s.  When I played a lot back then I never had sheet music, I just played the songs over and over until I knew them.  I guess you’d say that they became part of my “muscle memory.”  What really shocked me today is that in a matter of 20 minutes I could play the entire song again.  I know I haven’t played it in 40 years yet it was still lodged somewhere in my memory.

I think it is so strange that I can resurrect melodies and chords on a piano that have been buried for decades yet sometimes can’t remember what is on tomorrow’s schedule or the name of a person I’ve known for years. 

Lynn’s back is not making much progress, in my opinion.  Lynn herself says that it is much better now but I’m not sure I’d say that.  Tonight, for example, by the time dinner was over her back was exhausted.  She did have to do a lot of standing in order to prepare dinner this afternoon.  By this evening she was in pain.  I ran the electric massage machine on her back for a few minutes before she went to bed which she says helps.  She is just having to live with lots of pain and that’s not what she’s been used to all her life.  I wish it were better.  The physical therapists tell her she’s doing better so maybe this is true but I see the other side of the coin.

This afternoon after Lynn and I had walked I decided to take my bike on the same two mile hike.  Walking you don’t notice the hills but riding my bike I certainly did.  Plus, my bike has some issues I need to get fixed before our big bike hike such as it won’t stay in a lower gear unless I hold the gear lever in place.  Otherwise it defaults to the highest gear (most difficult to pedal).  As if climbing hills wasn’t already tough for me!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 11                Infected                   Died

World             136,619,412           2,948,908

US                     31,918,591              575,829

Virginia                635,552                10,472

Augusta County       5,581                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,718,671  (1,792,546 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,585  (20,042 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 12, 2021

Today was a typical but busy Monday, especially in the morning.  It began for me doing my weekly treasurer’s work at Central.  I hadn’t been there in a week so there were lots and lots of bills to be paid plus one credit card to be reconciled.  Plus I had today’s deposit to make.  All went well.

I hustled home and headed to the dump since I wasn’t here on Saturday.  As always, I got our trash plus the Gutshall’s.  That chore also went without a hitch.

Next I decided that it was past time to cut the grass.  I had been charging the battery for over 24 hours so it started up easily.  I didn’t have any spare time because I started at 11:30 and had to be at Central at 1:00 to unload a Blue Ridge Area Food Bank truck.  So I only had an hour to cut but still got 98% of what needed to be cut then.  I got the rest cut when I returned from unloading the Food Pantry truck. 

The weather today was nice but not as warm as yesterday.  Lynn spent time in the pergola with two sets of her friends.  First, the two Cheryls (Kent and Wright) came out this morning and visited with her.  In the afternoon, she and Ginny Bauman walked first then chatted in the pergola.

Lynn wasn’t finished walking, though.  After dinner tonight she and I walked our standard two mile hike.  She got a new FitBit today and wanted to make sure it worked as it should; it did.

There were more cases today of shootings and killings.  It is so disturbing to me that anymore anytime a person disagrees with someone else, police arresting young black men, high school students feeling depressed, or racism taking control of a person’s emotions, the answer seems to be to grab a gun and start shooting people.  Today’s news had a story of a police killing a young black man when he put up a little resistance to the arrest.  Apparently the policeman meant to grab her taser but instead used her revolver.  And, there was a shooting at a Knoxville high school with one person dead.  It is just too easy to access guns, especially those like the AR-15 which can fire multiple bullets in a matter of seconds.  I saw a Facebook post to the far right crowd asking them why they felt safe enough to not wear a mask in public but fearful enough to always pack when they leave home.  Makes no sense.

We found out today that the local health department is now vaccinating anyone 16 and over who wants it.  We think Ann is going to wait until next week to get Henry taken care of so he can go through soccer tryouts and his first day back at regular school (Thursday for Augusta County students) without an interruption.  The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

On the news tonight was a feature about a new rise in COVID-19 cases in America, especially in Michigan.  The US is back to 70,000 new cases per day.  In Detroit, 40% of the new cases were in people ages 20 through 40.  The UK variant is now the dominant strain.  It is more contagious but not necessarily more fatal to those who get it. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 12                Infected                   Died

World             137,214,246           2,957,205

US                     31,977,893              576,258

Virginia                636,862                10,486

Augusta County       5,580                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,768,777  (1,817,033 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,631  (20,073 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Augusta County now has 160 hospitalizations due to COVID-19. 

I found out that the Staunton bike shop, Black Dog Bikes, wasn’t open on Mondays so I couldn’t take my bike in to be worked on.  I plan to take it in tomorrow.  I really need to ride more to get in shape. 

April 13, 2021

Today was exercise day for me.  The weather was perfect for being outside with temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s.  I started with tennis at 10:00 with Rob Cale, Marc Kinder, and Lewis Moore.  We played for a little over a hour and a half, 3 sets, and we switched partners after each set.  I played OK and ended up the day 2 – 1 in sets.  My arm hurt a lot at first though it did get a little better.  I’m hurting again tonight, though.

I had taken my old truck to the Mary Baldwin tennis courts because I put my bike in the back.  Black Dog Bikes didn’t open until 10:00 so I had to wait until after our tennis was done to take my bike there.  I dropped it off.  The bad news is that I was told it would likely take a week or more for it to be repaired.  Oh well, it needs the work.

When I got back home, Lynn wanted to walk so we did our two mile hike.  I’m puzzled as to why yesterday nearly every step ached but today, after playing tennis for an hour and a half, my legs felt good the entire walk. 

In fact, I felt fine when I returned so I later took Betsy’s bike (Lynn’s old one) out for a spin in the neighborhood.  I only rode for about two miles but it felt good.

I also was able to help Ann and Josh by picking up Henry and Gus from their soccer tryouts today at Clymore Elementary School and take them home.  I’m going to do the same again tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be their last day before returning to school four days a week.

Lynn called my cousin Kay Grace this evening because Kay is scheduled to have some major back surgery tomorrow in Roanoke.  She’s supposed to have a plate and four screws inserted.  That sounds painful.  Actually Kay has been in the hospital since Sunday getting prepped for this surgery which is supposed to last several hours. 

The CDC and FDA called for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to be halted temporarily.  Almost seven million people have had the vaccine now but apparently six women developed an issue with blood clots.  One of them died from the clots.  None of our family has gotten the Johnson and Johnson one and the clots have not happened with anyone with the Pfizer vaccine.  This pause may last for days or weeks even though the chance of this happening appears to be less than one in a million.  On the news tonight the point was made that one person has died from this vaccine but 1,000 people die every day from COVID-19.

Lynn and I went to Central UMC tonight to pick up some food for the Aguirre family.  We then drove to their house and gave it to Elizabeth.  Their house is very sad right now because Gilberto’s mother passed away in Mexico due to COVID-19.  He’s not able to go there now.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 13                Infected                   Died

World             137,996,858           2,971,030

US                     32,068,437              577,166

Virginia                638,910                10,506

Augusta County       5,597                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,826,281  (1,853,400 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,849  (20,127 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 14, 2021

Today was more boring than the past few, probably due to the weather.  It was overcast and drizzly most of the day with temperatures in the 50’s and low 60’s.  So it was not conducive to doing anything much outside.  Henry and Gus had soccer tryouts despite the weather but fortunately during that time period it didn’t rain.

Lynn had a dentist appointment this morning so I got her to drop me at Central on her way.  I was able to pay some bills and update the Schwab investment spreadsheet for the first quarter.  That was really all I had to do for my weekly bookkeeping work and I shouldn’t have to do more until next Monday morning.

This afternoon Lynn had Physical Therapy.  Our weather app, Dark Sky, said it wouldn’t rain for the upcoming hour so I decided to get a bike ride in.  My ride was 6.6 miles long and VERY strenuous.  I rode up to Mount Pisgah UMC, then on Cider Mill Road to the four-way stop, then went to the Gutshall’s house at 618 Salem Church Road.  Then I came back home on Salem Church, Morningside Drive, and Leaport Road.  This route had multiple huge hills on it including the one from the Gutshall’s house up to Salem Lutheran Church and the real killer, the ride up Morningside Drive near the windmill.  I pedaled the entire route though I stopped several times on the big hills to catch my breath.  When I got home I was exhausted.  Riding 8 miles on the C & O Canal Towpath was nothing compared to these 6.6 miles.  Google Maps says there’s a 400 foot difference between the highest point and lowest point on this hike.  Plus, I had to use Betsy’s bike again because mine is in the shop.  It is the same brand and has the same seat as mine though the handlebars are higher.

Tonight the pause on using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine continues.  The CDC said they recommend holding off so they can examine the data.  Still, there have been less than one case of blot clots for every million people vaccinated.  All were women aged 18 to 48 who got sick within two weeks of being vaccinated.  This has slowed the vaccination rate, of course, in the US though there are apparently still plenty of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines available.

My cousin Kay came through her surgery OK today.  Her son Michael called Lynn and told her she was in more pain than he’d ever seen her but was still already asking to go home.  I hope her pain quickly diminishes. 

Lynn and I wanted to walk after dinner but it was raining.  So we went to Harrisonburg so she could return some shoes to Ross.  On the way back we stopped at Smiley’s.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 14                Infected                   Died

World             138,801,364           2,984,272

US                     32,145,473              577,979

Virginia                640,211                10,510

Augusta County       5,606                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,904,288  (1,896,053 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        45,235  (20,200 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 15, 2021

Today is the traditional tax day (though the deadline was moved to May this year).  I submitted my taxes back on March 1 and received my Virginia refund but am still waiting on my federal refund.  I’ve checked on its progress on the IRS.gov site but it simply says that this refund is being processed.

The weather today was seasonable which means it wasn’t as warm as it has been.  It was mostly sunny but highs were just in the 50’s.  It made for good walking weather, though.  Lynn walked with her friend Ginny Bauman this morning and earlier I took a good 2.5 mile hike around the city of Staunton while Lynn visited with Opal Homan and her aunt Jo Lee Hanger at The Legacy. 

I have to compliment my wife again.  This morning she got an e-mail from the Waynesboro High School ELL teacher that said Pfizer vaccines were available at Augusta Health today for anyone 16 and over.  Juan Pablo, the boy she has been working with in Waynesboro as part of the Migrant Education Program, is 16.  Juan Pablo hasn’t done well with virtual schooling and is failing all of his subjects now.  But Lynn hasn’t given up on him so when she got the e-mail she immediately called his dad and Juan Pablo.  The dad answered; Juan Pablo didn’t.  The father asked Lynn to assist them in getting both of them registered to be vaccinated this afternoon so she did.  And she finally got hold of Juan Pablo on the phone and told him she’d be bringing the registration papers to him this morning.  I went along with her to Waynesboro as she delivered the vaccine registration to Juan Pablo.  His father was at work so she had made the appointment for 3:20 PM.  I hope they both follow through.  I just know that if it hadn’t been for the teacher’s e-mail and Lynn’s insistence these two would not have a chance of being vaccinated.  Lynn called Juan Pablo this evening and he confirmed that both had gotten their first vaccine as she arranged.

Lynn also told Juan Pablo about summer school this year at Waynesboro High.  He’ll need to go to get back on track in school.

After our trip to Waynesboro, we went to the Nationwide Insurance office in Staunton.  The agent there had called me last week when we added the Venza saying she could show us some ways to save money on our bill so we met with her this morning.  Indeed, there were some things we were paying for that we really didn’t need such as rental cars if ours is in the shop.  With four vehicles we do not need a replacement rental car!

From there, Lynn went to The Legacy and I went walking.  I ended up at her vehicle shortly before she finished with her visits with Opal and Jo Lee.  We came on home and, after lunch, she and Ginny took their hike.

She had to hustle because she had an appointment to interpret for a disciplinary hearing at Wilbur S. Pcnce Middle School at 2:00.  She was anxious about this because she needed to be back home by 3:18 when the bus comes with Freddie and Betsy.  All four Gutshall kids had school today for the first time this year but Henry and Gus had soccer practice after school.  Her meeting at Pence was over in plenty of time so she made it home before the bus got here.

I had an unusual task to do during this time period.  Jim had texted us last evening that his Cross Country team had a meet in Charlottesville for which they had scheduled a chartered bus.  He had a lawnmower of Josh’s that he had repaired and wanted to get back to them.  So he schemed to load the lawnmower on the chartered bus, have the bus stop at Target in Waynesboro after the meet this afternoon, and I met him there in my truck to pickup the lawnmower.  It was a crazy scheme but it worked!

We got good news that Gus and Henry both made the Fort Defiance High School soccer teams.  Gus made the JV team and Henry made the varsity.  Both start play on May 11 and have an abbreviated, ten game season with home and away games against the other teams in the Shenandoah District:  Staunton, Riverheads, Stuarts Draft, Buffalo Gap, and Wilson Memorial.

To celebrate both of them making the soccer teams, Lynn and I went to Krispy Kreme donuts in Harrisonburg and got them donuts for breakfast tomorrow.  Of course, we also got our free ones since we’ve got our vaccinations.

When we dropped them off Ann told us Henry is scheduled to receive his first Pfizer vaccine this coming Sunday. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 15                Infected                   Died

World             139,659,156           2,998,743

US                     32,222,130              578,976

Virginia                641,626                10,529

Augusta County       5,605                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,974,166  (1,933,945 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        45,944  (20,605 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 16, 2021

Today was Friday, the first Friday all year that Freddie, Betsy, and Gus have gone to school.  This meant that we were home at 3:18 when the bus arrived.  Actually Gus had after-school soccer practice and Henry had behind-the-wheel driver’s ed so it was just Betsy and Freddie who rode the bus here.

I played three sets of tennis this morning.  The temperature was only in the 50’s but it didn’t seem too cold.  Won Un, Rob Cale, and Danny Anson were the others who played.  My right shoulder keeps on hurting but not enough to quit playing.  I just can’t serve hard at all and when I hit a forehand my arm hurts.  I still had a good time playing and actually won two of the three sets we played.

This afternoon Lynn and I made a run to Costco.  It always amazes me that we can go there with exactly two items on our list and exit with a bill of over $100.  The big extra costs today were geraniums which Lynn bought for our front porch.  She also got some frozen items despite the fact that our four freezers were full.   Yes, we have four freezers for two retired people.  In order to put away what she just bought she had to pitch out items.

Her plan is to make a big pot of potato soup for the Gutshall’s on Sunday night so she asked me to bake a bunch of potatoes today so she could work with cool ones instead of hot ones when she makes the soup tomorrow.  Baked potatoes are one of the few things I can cook decently.

Since today was Friday, it’s no surprise that our dinner consisted of hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike along with their sweet potato fries.  After dinner, Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  It was her second walk of the day as she walked while I played tennis this morning.  The temperature was in the high 50’s and was OK for walking despite a pretty stiff breeze at times.

More mass shootings:  today’s news included information about the gunman who killed eight, including himself, in Indianapolis yesterday.  Here was a post on Facebook this evening I loved:  “147 mass shootings in the U.S. already this year.  Republicans:  Let’s make it EASIER to buy guns.  2 cases of voter fraud in 2020.  Republicans:  Let’s make it HARDER to vote.  I’m tired of the hypocrisy.  You?”

Another story is about the 13 year old being shot and killed by a policeman with his hands up in the air.  Every day there seems to be a story about mass shootings or police quick on the trigger to shoot suspects.  The common denominator to every story is guns.

Twenty seven states have an increase in deaths due to COVID-19 though Virginia is not one of them.  The head of the CDC blames people for letting their guard down and governments for easing their restrictions too soon.  Brazil reports that it is losing 3,000 people every day to coronavirus.  More people are dying there than anywhere else in the world.  Hospitals are short on everything including sedatives. I’m SO glad we canceled our trip there.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 16                Infected                   Died

World             140,476,554           3,010,657

US                     32,300,759              579,891

Virginia                643,220                10,549

Augusta County       5,613                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,105,585  (2,002,007 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        46,980  (21,236 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

After dinner tonight we went to Smiley’s.  The flavor of the month is Death by Chocolate, Lynn’s favorite. 

April 17, 2021

We did our normal Saturday chores in the morning including getting food from Central and taking it to the Aquirre family.  Then I did my weekly trash run.  While I did that, Lynn and Ginny Bauman took a morning walk.

This afternoon, I decided I had to ride my bicycle more but really didn’t want to ride on the hills in our neighborhood.  Lynn wanted to walk again so I put the bike rack on her RAV4 and we drove to Grottoes.  Grottoes is the only flat town in the area.  It has two parks—a city park and Grand Caverns park.  Both of them have bike/walking trails around their perimeters.  The Grottoes city park’s trail is 1.4 miles long and the Grand Caverns trail is 1 mile long.  The two parks are 2.4 miles apart, all level.

We parked at the Grottoes city park.  I rode one lap around its perimeter then rode to Grand Caverns, did a lap around it, rode back to the city park, and rode another lap around it.  By that time Lynn was finishing up her second lap on the 1.4 mile trail so I asked her to pick me up at the Grand Caverns park.  I rode back there and did one more lap around its perimeter then she met me.  All in all, I calculated that I rode 12 miles.  She walked 2.8 miles giving her more than 12,000 steps for the day.

This ride helped my confidence for the Katy Trail ride.  Yes, we’ll be riding a lot more than 12 miles per day but it only took around an hour and a half.  Best of all, neither my legs nor my bottom hurt that much.  In other words, it led me to believe I can do the Katy Trail.  Riding on level ground is much easier than climbing mountains.  The trails around the perimeter of each park were packed gravel like the Katy Trail.

I told Lynn today that I’m not sure why I agreed to do that hike.  It seems like a very selfish thing to do—abandon her and the things I can help out with around here for six days.  It also seems somewhat macho to ride that far.  But I guess the reason I agreed is to prove to myself that I’m not ready for assisted living yet.  I’m still young enough to do physical exertion.  And I will enjoy the camaraderie with the four others, all of whom I like.

I did one favor for Lynn when we got back.  She didn’t like how the solar lights in front of our house weren’t all vertical.  The lights sit on a plastic stake in the ground around six inches long.  I had the idea to replace them with wood stakes several inches longer.  I made the stakes out of a spare board I had in the garage and swapped the plastic ones for the wooden ones.  My plan worked—the lights look better now.

For dinner tonight we decided to put our vaccinations to use.  We went to Cracker Barrel in Staunton and had our usual country ham biscuit dinner.  It was a nice treat and very inexpensive.  We grabbed a Chick Fil A ice cream for dessert.

Lynn called my cousin Kay today; her son Michael had told us that it would be OK to call.  She didn’t pick up but later called back.  She sounded very good, talkative, rational, and laughing at times.  It was good to hear her with a strong voice after the tough two days she has been through.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 17                Infected                   Died

World             141,264,098           3,022,247

US                     32,366,165              580,612

Virginia                644,828                10,564

Augusta County       5,619                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,208,823  (2,059,882 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,347  (21,292 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are still 161 Augusta County residents hospitalized due to COVID-19.  Today we got the bad news that Gilberto’s father had passed away in Mexico due to coronavirus.  His mother passed away just two weeks ago to the same.

April 18, 2021

My brother Butch is 73 years old.  Today, for the first time in his life, he attempted to run a marathon.  Yes, that’s 26.2 miles.  The Athens Marathon is normally a typical run with hundreds of runners, official start and finish, etc.  But in today’s coronavirus world it took on a different spin.  Runners could go anytime during April they wanted and on their own course.  They just had to run the complete distance.  Butch had been training for this for months.  In fact, he was all ready to run in the past four year’s marathons but various events kept him from doing so until this year.  So today was his chosen day to try to accomplish this feat…and he did it.  Here’s what I wrote him:  To complete a marathon at any age is some kind of accomplishment, but to do it at age 73 is worth praise beyond words.  Neither of us will ever know that feeling of satisfaction you must now be experiencing.  We’re proud of you!

It was a much less strenuous day for Lynn and me.  She walked two miles and I played tennis with Henry then rode the bike for just a couple of miles.  Like most Sundays now, it began with Zoom Sunday School for me then in-person church services at Central for Lynn and me.

Also typical of Sundays, Ann’s family came over for dinner.  Henry couldn’t come because his Fort Defiance High School basketball team finally had their end-of-year meeting and celebration of their district championship, the first in twenty five years.  Henry had something else to celebrate today—this morning he got his first Pfizer vaccine.  Hurray!

Lynn fixed potato soup for everyone plus French style green beans.  Betsy can eat both of those since they are meat-free.  Plus she whipped cream and sliced strawberries for a delicious dessert.  From Central this morning we picked up some chicken salad and croissants for those who wanted.  As always, it was a good Sunday meal.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 18                Infected                   Died

World             141,987,018           3,032,205

US                     32,404,454              581,061

Virginia                646,133                10,581

Augusta County       5,623                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,281,878  (2,103,815 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,720  (21,592 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 19, 2021

When I started writing this tonight, our internet was out.  This is a very rare occasion.  In fact, in all of the previous 364 nights I’ve written this blog I don’t recall an occasion when we haven’t had our Highspeedlink.net service.  It isn’t fast but has been very reliable.  Perhaps it will come back before I finish.  I believe I can set up my phone as a Verizon hot spot long enough to upload this posting in case it is still down when I am ready to go to bed.

I called my brother this evening to see how he was doing.  Predictably, he said he didn’t sleep well last night due to leg cramps.  But today he had a two hour massage so he was confident that tonight would be much better for him.  He sounded in very good spirits and had a right to be doubly proud of himself for running the marathon yesterday.  I will never, never attempt that.

This was Monday so my day began with Church Treasurer duties.  I paid a few bills, paid the quarterly Virginia tax, and made the Quickbooks deposit that Sam Richardson and I had counted earlier today and delivered to the bank.  I returned to Central shortly after lunch and helped with the Blue Ridge Food Bank delivery.

Around lunchtime I got a call from neighbor Bee Myers.  He asked if I wanted some free mulch.  I had seen in his driveway that he got a huge order last week.  He said it was much more than they needed or wanted and if I would come and get what was left I could have it.  I took him up on the offer, making three trips to his driveway in my truck to load it up then spread it around our house.  Needless to say, I was very tired when that was over.

I also helped Ann’s family out a little today, taking Gus to his soccer practice and Henry to his behind-the-wheel driving lesson.  It gave me a little break from shoveling mulch, especially since my right shoulder is still a source of pain to me.

I confess that I don’t give my shoulder much time to heal.  Yesterday I hit tennis balls with Henry for 30 minutes or so.  Today it was lifting mulch over and over.  Tomorrow I’m playing tennis again with three of my buddies in Staunton. 

On the news today it was reported that over 50% of Americans have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 33% of adults are fully vaccinated.  Every state now has opened vaccines to anyone 16 and over.  I guess the next step is to make sure the vaccines are safe for children and get them vaccinated.  Perhaps herd immunity will then become a possibility.  I certainly hope so!  In the meantime, thanks to Verizon can report today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 19                Infected                   Died

World             142,676,814           3,042,348

US                     32,468,277              581,522

Virginia                647,111                10,595

Augusta County       5,633                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,345,314  (2,137,823 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,788  (21,614 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 20, 2021

It was one year ago today, April 20, when I began writing this blog.  When I started, I commented that I was like a reporter writing about a baseball game which had already started when he began reporting.  But my worrisome comment then was I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  And I didn’t know who was going to win.

Now I believe that the game is in the 7th or 8th inning.  After falling way behind at first, my team is now ahead thanks to the excellent work of the researchers who developed the coronavirus vaccines.  The game has been very costly and still the opponent inflicts harm every day on humankind, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated.  I’m not sure the game has just 9 innings, either; I am afraid I’ll be living with COVID-19 in some form for many years to come.

I do believe I’m on the winning team now.  Lynn and I and our immediate family has, thus far, been spared the dangers of the disease.  Our extended families have not been so lucky.  My cousin David succumbed to it.  Lynn’s sister Kay had it and, to this day, does not have her former sense of taste or smell back.

I had written before that tonight would be my last post.  I’ve reconsidered.  I think writing this has been very therapeudic for me and I suppose I’ll continue writing for at least a few more nights.  When I go on my bike trip, May 10 – 15, there’s no way I can write a daily blog because I won’t be carrying any keyboard with me in Missouri.

At this milestone I do look back on the past year as being perhaps the worst of my life in many ways.  I’ve been healthy but we’ve all had to give up so many things, some of which are finally coming back to us now.  For months we didn’t go to any restaurants.  Now we only go on rare occasions despite being fully vaccinated.  We haven’t been inside a movie theatre for well over a year—many of them have gone out of business.  We haven’t seen a live sports event in over a year though perhaps we’ll be able to see some of Gus or Henry’s soccer games next month.  We went for months and months without having any of our children in our house except for very, very brief moments.  No grandchild has stayed overnight with us in over a year.  Our two youngest grandsons, Faron and Coen, have been here only once and that was for a few hours, all outside.  We went without church services for nearly a year though we have been able to attend Sunday morning services the last three weeks.  Zoom was a lifesaver, keeping us in touch with family, Lynn’s occasional school work, and our church work, but is not a good substitute for face-to-face conversation.  Everyone wears masks in public now so you can’t even see a person’s full face anymore.   Both Lynn and I have gained a few pounds; eating becomes a recreation when you can’t do others.   Our grandchildren’s school and children’s work have been much less than desirable. 

There have been a few positives, I admit.  Lynn and I have managed to get along quite well despite seeing more of each other in the past year than any of our previous years of marriage.   Except for her broken foot and now fractured spine she and I have both been healthy without so much as a cold all year.  Our constant prayers for the health of our family have been answered.  The Pergola that Lynn desired and Jim built has enabled us to converse with many different people at socially accepted distance.  Financially we’ve come through this pandemic better off than we started it; we certainly haven’t spent the money on travel that we did prior to March of 2020.  

If I were to look back through my blog, I’d see fear that COVID-19 was going to reach me before I was vaccinated.  I’d see impatience and anger at how slow the roll-out of the vaccine began.  I’d see relief on the days I got my two Pfizer shots.  I’d see frustration that I couldn’t be with either my brother or sister when they were going through tough times.  I’d see boredom with way too many hours spent playing Whirly Word, sudoku, or solitaire.  I’d see a renewed appreciation I have for a fantastic spouse and friend with whom I live.   

The numbers that I’ve posted every day are staggering.  The world has lost over 3 million people to COVID-19.  The US has lost over 580,000, the equivalent of the population of the city of Baltimore or Albuquerque, to covonarivus.   Virginia has had almost 650,000 cases, which means roughly 8% of the population has had it.  Augusta County still has over 160 people hospitalized today and has lost 69 residents thanks to COVID-19.  Throughout the year we saw it getting closer and closer.  Now we hope for it to go away.

It won’t go away as long as there is a substantial percentage of people who won’t get vaccinated.  The news this week said that 20% of the US adults won’t.  Supposedly 43% of Republicans have refused to be vaccinated but only 5% of Democrats.  Why is this a political question?  The question is how do we get rid of COVID-19 and the answer is to roll up your sleeves. 

The State Department released travel advisories today for other countries.  There are four categories of advisories, from Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions to Level 4 – Do not travel.  Guess where Portugal and Spain rate, the two countries we’re supposed to fly to in September?  Do not travel.

Today was a busy day for me.  It started with tennis.  I started hitting around 9:45, played three sets, one of which went to 9 – 7, and finished at noon.  I was quite tired.  I did rebound enough to cut our grass this afternoon and walk two miles with Lynn.  I also played with Freddie for around an hour when his bus came here including basketball, bike riding, and going to Clymore Elementary for him to play on the playground.  I always have a good time with him.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World             143,520,018           3,056,428

US                     32,535,378              582,449

Virginia                648,347                10,625

Augusta County       5,640                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,410,736  (2,166,158 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        48,250  (21,689 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

It is interesting to compare this to the April 20 statistics a year ago:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World                 2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                    8.990                     300

Augusta County            22                         0

What a year it has been!

April 21, 2021

I wrote this paragraph a year ago, six weeks after we were going through the “shelter in place” order from Governor Northram:  Lynn and I each get a lot of screen time each day.  I don’t know what we’d do without our iPads and MacBook.  Over and over again I hit the refresh button on my MacBook when reading Facebook hoping there will be some new posts.  As of today I have played 17,820 consecutive games of Whirly Word and played 8,311 games of Solitaire on my iPad.  Of course many of these games were played pre-COVID-19 but many, many have been played since March 13.

Despite our vaccinations and beginnings of a back-to-normal life, the statements in that paragraph are still true.  However, my counts are now 23,100 for Whirly Word and 10,618 for Solitaire.  Solving over 5,000 Whirly Word puzzles in the past year is more a testament to my boredom than it is my knowledge of words. 

Today was an unusual weather day.  The morning weather was mild with temperatures in the 50’s.  But by afternoon a front had passed through and the weather became frigid.  There is supposed to be a freeze overnight. 

The mild morning temperatures allowed me to do the weed-whacking I’ve been needing to do.  I also found out that Costco carries the battery I needed for my riding lawnmower but I had to take my old battery in to get a rebate.  So after I did the weed-whacking I took the battery out of my mower.

Lynn and I had several stops to make in Harrisonburg including Costco.  We ended up at the Rockingham County School Board Offices where she had an hour-long interpreting session while I waited in the car in the parking lot.  On our way home we stopped at Smiley’s for ice cream and got home just in time to meet Freddie’s bus.

I had Freddie for a little longer today as Ann took Betsy to dance before picking him up.  It was too cold for us to play outside so he played Wii and watched TV here until Ann came.  During this time Lynn had a Physical Therapy session in Verona.

Henry finished his last behind-the-wheel session today so I guess that means he has a full driver’s license now.  I expect that by the end of the month we will have passed Lynn’s RAV-4 on to the Gutshalls so he’ll have something safe to drive.

One day after the police officer who shot George Floyd was found guilty of 2nd degree murder, there were two more instances today of police shooting and killing a black person.  Why is the solution to so many police interactions to pull their revolver and fire?

The news tonight again stated the demand for vaccines is dropping more.  Though over 200,000,000 shots have been given in America, there are stories of many places with more vaccines than they have willing recipients.  Such a shame.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 21                Infected                   Died

World             144,406,878           3,070,484

US                     32,600,158              583,228

Virginia                649,608                10,640

Augusta County       5,656                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,470,861  (2,198,898 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        48,473  (21,881 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 22, 2021

ABC news today called today’s weather “sprinter” since it was spring with a heavy dose of winter across the US.  The temperature here didn’t get above the 40’s, much too cold to do outside work or walk.  Our geraniums spent another night in the garage and will do so again tonight as the temperature once again drops to below freezing.  The forecast is for much warmer weather next week with temperatures reaching the 80’s by Wednesday.

In order to get in a walk, Lynn and I went to the Harrisonburg mall today and walked about two miles.  The weather inside the mall was much better than that on the outside!

I was able to pick up my bicycle today from the repair shop.  It had multiple fixes so maybe it is ready for a big hike now.  I can’t say the same about myself.  The fellows who are going on the Missouri hike with me have planned a get-together and ride next Tuesday.  I hope I can keep up with them.  If I can’t, then I may decide to pull out.

Jim’s girls’ cross country team at Patrick Henry High School qualified for the state meet this past week and left for the state meet today.  On their way to Leesburg today, they got off I-81 at Verona so they could pick up some face masks Lynn had created for them which had “PH XC 2021 State Meet” on it.  She is so skilled!

Tonight was pizza night from Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  It never disappoints us.  It will serve as our dinner for two nights and still have pizza leftover for a lunch snack or two.  We always get their Soprano pizza which is another name for a pizza loaded with the works.

We had both Betsy and Freddie this afternoon after school.  Betsy has dance classes Monday through Wednesday evenings but not on Thursday.  It was too cold for them to play outside, though. 

According to Governor Northram, some of Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions are going to be eased soon.  The CDC says that 52% of all Americans have received at least one vaccine shot so far.  The CDC is also going to decide tomorrow whether to resume the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or not.  The CDC now says that if you’ve been vaccinated and still contact COVID-19, your symptoms will be lighter and you will be less likely to spread it to others.

We talked with Hal and Diane today.  They gave us some advice as to where we could stay on the Pacific Coast when we come to Oregon in September.  We’ll be traveling to the coast together from Portland.  We agreed to go along with their recommendation which means that our trip is now completely booked (flights, rental cars, and hotels).

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 22                Infected                   Died

World             145,283,674           3,083,542

US                     32,661,770              584,168

Virginia                650,981                10,653

Augusta County       5,662                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,558,769  (2,248,339 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        49,050  (22,230 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 23, 2021

This will come as a surprise:  this morning I watched and listened to a classical music concert.  It was on YouTube recorded yesterday at a live session at the Charleston WV Public Radio station, performed by Harold Brown.  Harold is from Bramwell and is a world renown classical music pianist who studied at the Juliard School.  He is a fantastic pianist though the electronic piano in the radio station didn’t do justice to his music.  He not only played superbly but also gave a very positive interview which included lots of references to Bramwell.  Our family reunion has been held several times at his house.

Becky Allen sent me the link to the concert.  She initially let me know about it yesterday when it was being broadcast live but we couldn’t pick up the Charleston station here.  It was nice to find out that it was recorded on YouTube.  He had called Becky on his way home from Charleston yesterday and told her he was shocked to find out it was being videotaped.

The bulk of my day today was filled with frustration.  It all started when I left home at 10:15 for my noon tennis match so I could pay a few bills and set up the next payroll for Central’s employees before I went to play.  When I logged into QuickBooks there was a new icon which said was for Resubscribing our payroll service.  Knowing that we usually pay Intuit for QuickBooks in April, I thought that I should do this before proceeding with the other tasks.  I quickly got in a section which asked me to login as the main contact person for QuickBooks. 

We had an issue a couple of months ago where I couldn’t get any tech support because Jim Clemmer was listed as the main contact person instead of me.  At that time, we went through several steps to have me replaced as the contact person.  This involved sending Intuit a letter from Jim, a letter from Pastor Won, and a picture of my driver’s license.  However, that apparently never happened and it wouldn’t let me proceed to process the upgrade.

Worst of all, when I clicked on the Resubscribe button it automatically canceled our payroll service.  I didn’t catch this at first and had to leave QuickBooks to play tennis. 

I played about 75 minutes of tennis before one of the guys hurt his back a little and decided to call it quits.  So I returned to Central where I paid the bills and tried to set up the payroll for April 30.  It wouldn’t let me because the payroll service had been cancelled.

Worst of all, there’s no phone number anywhere to call Intuit.  Their tech support is worse than awful.  I tried various ways online, called as if I was going to order new service, and finally got a person on the phone who said he could help.  It took him almost 90 minutes to get our service restored and even then I had to charge the $585 to MY credit card instead of the church’s.  He also said he could help in getting the change made to the account so I would be the contact person.  However, again when we got to the screen for this to happen it asked for documents to be uploaded again so I told him I’d have to wait until next week to do this.

I did process the payroll for April 30 and thought things were somewhat back to normal when a new error message popped up on the screen.  I looked online and found that many others had experienced this same error message.  I tried the suggestions online and nothing worked.  So once again I tried to get tech support.  Guess what—they wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t listed as the main contact person.  I was furious and late for dinner by this time.  It has been several hours since this happened and my blood pressure is still too high.

Actually I had dessert before dinner.  Lynn and I met Jim’s cross country team at Smiley’s where his team enjoyed ice cream.  Lynn had been there earlier in the day with her friend Pat Collins so I got a cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.  Then Lynn and I returned home and ate our burgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.

While I was at Central I put together a box of food to take to the Aquirre family.  We were going to take it to them tonight but they were at church so we’ll take it tomorrow.

The CDC has decided to allow people to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine again though 15 people have experienced blood clots.  Out of 9 million who took this vaccine this isn’t many but three of them died.  All were women.  If I were a young woman I’d certainly choose Pfizer or Moderna instead. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 23                Infected                   Died

World             146,194,636           3,098,225

US                     32,733,536              585,002

Virginia                652,321                10,666

Augusta County       5,671                       69

April 24, 2021

The weather turned rainy from midday on today so that put a damper on things though the morning was fruitful.  I started the day gathering trash, taking ours and the Gutshall’s to the dump.  Then Lynn and I loaded up the food for the Aguirre family and took it to them.  Instead of coming back home, we went to Staunton where we walked two laps around Gypsy Hill Park before getting some groceries at Aldi’s and coming home.  It was a very successful morning but soon thereafter the rain started and continued the rest of the day.

I used the downtime due to the rainy weather to get my Congregational Prayer for tomorrow written.  Then Lynn suggested that we go to a nursery near Bridgewater.  It was one we’d never been to, about a half hour’s drive from here.  She had been looking for a butterfly bush but the only one she found was at a Waynesboro nursery, looked unhealthy, and they wanted $40 for it so she didn’t buy it.  But today, at the Evergrowin’ Greenhouse she found plenty of them for $6.99 each so we got three.  Both the greenhouse and the butterfly bush were good finds.

Lynn was going to start the long process of embroidering the jackets for Jim’s Cross Country team today but she wanted her sister Kay to help her and Kay didn’t feel well.  Kay was afraid that the stomach bug she had might be contagious so she and Lynn agreed to wait for a while to do the jackets.  There’s no rush.

I also found a way to apply online with Intuit to get the primary contact changed for our QuickBooks account from Jim Clemmer to me.  Now I just have to wait and see if it will be approved. Until it is, I have little hope of getting the error message fixed that I saw yesterday afternoon.  The Intuit people just won’t talk to you if you’re not the primary contact.

Today was Henry’s first day driving without one of his parents with him.  He and Gus went to the Weyers Cave Community Center to play basketball with some friends.  I told Lynn tonight that I think it would be safer for him to be driving the Rav4 so maybe we’ll get that arranged tomorrow night when Ann and Josh come over for dinner.

We went back to the grocery store tonight because Ann told us she would like hamburgers for dinner tomorrow night.  It will be her birthday eve so we let her choose the menu.  We offered to take her family out to dinner but she preferred eating burgers here so that’s what it will be.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 24                Infected                   Died

World             147,038,773           3,112,291

US                     32,788,341              585,875

Virginia                653,326                10,675

Augusta County       5,677                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,773,361  (2,370,074 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,633  (23,415 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Augusta County still has 165 hospitalized though the number of daily cases has definitely dropped off a lot.  This is puzzling.  Kay told us today that she will get her second Pfizer shot this coming Tuesday.  At that point, all of the adults in our family will be fully vaccinated.  Yay!

April 25, 2021

This was an eventful Sunday.  It started out with Lynn and I planning a short anniversary trip June 12 – 14.  On our anniversary, June 12, we’re going to drive to Lancaster PA.  On the way we’ll stop at one of the creameries we’ve discovered in Pennsylvania.  We’ll stay at Eden Resort.  Our entertainment will be a Righteous Brothers concert at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster.  That should be fun.

The next day, Sunday June 13, we’ll drive to Delaware with stops at a Delaware creamery and a jams & jellies place before ending up in Lewes at a very nice resort hotel, The Inn at Canal Street.  We’ll be able to walk on the beach and at Cape Henelopen State Park at Rehoboth Beach.  On Monday, June 14, we’ll drive home, perhaps stopping in Arlington on our way.

After making those plans we went to church where we enjoyed a guest minister, Rev. Michael Quayle.  Central has been displaying the Sunday bulletins projected on the wall instead of handing out paper ones and I quickly discovered that today’s bulletin had not been entered on the laptop set for displaying.  So I quickly got it entered so the congregation could see the order of service.  I had the Congregational Prayer during the service.

After Church we came home, ate lunch, then took a short walk.  Lynn was working every spare minute on items for our dinner tonight including making homemade rolls for the hamburgers, preparing deviled eggs, lima beans, and onion fritters.  Ann had asked for these items since it was her birthday dinner though her actual birthday is tomorrow.

Lynn had to return after our short walk to work on the rolls but then she wanted to walk again.  I told her I needed to ride my bike, especially since I had gotten it back from the shop and wanted to make sure it was ready to go.  So she walked and I rode my bike.  Naturally, I added a lot of extra runs on my bike while she walked.  She walked two miles; I’m guessing I rode at least five.  My bike felt great and my legs didn’t hurt too much as I rode.

When we got back it was time for me to run to Smiley’s to pick up Ann’s ice cream cake for our dessert tonight.  We had ordered a salted caramel chocolate chunk cake for her—my favorite.  Indeed, it was delicious and we all enjoyed it.

I grilled the burgers for our dinner while Lynn fixed everything else.  We did have a very nice dinner though we missed Gus who was with some friends at Massanutten Water Park.   After dinner, Henry and I took a ride in the Rav4 so he could see some of its features.  He’s a good driver, I’m sure, and this car should do well for him.  We’re going to pass it along to the Gutshalls later this week for a little under its Kelly Blue Book value.

I did get one important thing accomplished today.  I received another notice from Intuit this morning saying that they didn’t approve my application to be the main contact for QuickBooks because they needed a photo ID for Pastor Won and a letter from him requesting that I replace Jim Clemmer.  Won is on vacation today in New Hampshire but nonetheless I texted him and asked him if he’d take a picture of his driver’s license and text it back to me.  I already had a signed letter from him requesting that I become the main contact from when we tried to get this done back in January.  Later in the day he did text me the picture.  I was able to put together two documents that I uploaded to Intuit—one was not only his letter but one from Jim Clemmer requesting the same and the other was the driver’s licenses for all three of us.  It worked—late this afternoon I got a message that our change had finally been approved.  Combining my original work in January for this plus yesterday’s and today’s work, I’ll bet I spent five hours just trying to get Intuit to change Central’s main contact from Jim Clemmer to me.

Tomorrow when I get to Central I will hopefully get the issue resolved that I ran into on Friday.  As I wrote then, they wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t the main QuickBooks contact.  I am now.

ABC news says that the number of COVID-19 cases for the past seven days is 17% lower than the previous week.  That’s good news.  Now we just need to get more people vaccinated—children and the reluctant adults.

Here are today’s numbers:

April 25                Infected                   Died

World             147,778,110           3,122,311

US                     32,824,129              586,148

Virginia                654,210                10,691

Augusta County       5,682                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,841,006  (2,411,830 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,702  (23,452 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 26, 2021

Today is Ann’s birthday.  Wow, we’ve been parents for 44 years!  All three of our children have turned out so well; we’re really lucky.

I had a very tough time in bed last night.  I woke up around 11:00 with chills and upset stomach.  I ended up putting on a second shirt, sweat pants, and socks.  That seemed to calm my chills but I still did not sleep well the rest of the night.  Lynn checked my temperature early this morning which was just under 100o.  However, that was also when I was double-bundled up in clothes and when I finally got up (long after Lynn) my temperature was back to normal.  Lynn hardly ever gets up before me but this morning I was too weak to move.  When I did get up to go to the bathroom I felt very light headed.

This happens to me every year or so though I didn’t find any record of it happening in this blog over the past year.  I get chills, wake up exceptionally weak, and am barely able to move.  It usually lasts for just one day and then I’m back to normal.  I certainly hope it doesn’t happen when I’m in Missouri riding bikes with the other four guys.  After some caffeine and breakfast I felt good enough to keep my appointment with Sam Richardson to count Central’s offering at 9:00. 

After he and I did the count, which only took 30 minutes, I was able to just sit in my treasurer’s chair at Central and take care of lots of items on my list of things to do.  I actually got all of them done by 11:30.  I then picked up a pizza and box of food from Central’s Food Pantry (Food Lion food) for the Aguirre family.

Coming home, Lynn asked if I could walk.  I made it only one mile.  Actually at that point she is the one who suggested we come back home so we did but once I got here I did not feel like going back out to walk.  She did and walked two more miles.  Then she came back and started working on the huge embroidering job Jim had asked her to do for his Cross Country team.  He had gotten something like 15 jackets and wanted them all to be embroidered to indicate each girl’s name, the school name, and the fact that the XC team made the state tournament.  She did a couple of the jackets today.

Meanwhile, I mowed the grass.  It was an easy job for me since I could simply sit and ride.  I didn’t feel like doing much more than that.  At least I got it done.

After dinner we took the box of food to the Aquirre family.  I offered to take Lynn to Smiley’s but she declined.  She’s trying to keep her weight down.  Plus she wanted to work some more on the jackets for Jim’s Cross Country team.  She ended up getting five of the fifteen done today.

I called the hotel we are considering staying at on our way to Kennebunkport and found out it will have its outdoor pool fixed by Memorial Day.  We’re going to be there June 28 so today I made reservations for us there.

The current hotbed for COVID-19 in the world is India.  It is just ravaging that country.  Meanwhile, back here in the US, the CDC is expected to lower the requirements to wear masks outdoors if you’ve been vaccinated.  Plus, the European Union says that they will soon be announcing that any American who has been vaccinated can travel to any country in Europe this summer.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 26                Infected                   Died

World             148,448,236           3,132,355

US                     32,874,180              586,531

Virginia                654,929                10,706

Augusta County       5,685                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,911,691  (2,445,766 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,790  (23,499 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

We received word today that Rev. Dan Garrett had passed away.   Dan was a pastor at Central from 1996 – 2001.  He performed the wedding ceremony for Ann and Josh. 

April 27, 2021

I won’t be writing much this evening for a very good reason—I am thoroughly exhausted.  Today was not only the hottest day of the year thus far with temperatures in the mid-80’s but it was the day that four of us who are going to ride our bikes on the Katy Trail in May decided to do a training run.  The plan was to ride from John Bauman’s house to Smiley’s in Bridgewater then return.

The distance was only about 20 miles total, which I’ve done maybe a hundred times in my life, but the issue is that there are many, many hills on the back roads we took.  I swear it is uphill both to and from Bridgewater.  This training event clearly pointed out that the other guys, Jim Printy, John Bauman, and Bill Bushman, are clearly in better shape for riding on hills than I am.  Time after time they rode on ahead of me until I couldn’t even see them.  They were kind to wait on me later on but I was certainly the weak link. 

And tonight I’m feeling it.  My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my hands hurt, and my shoulders hurt.  The one part of my body that I thought would be hurting—my butt—is actually OK.  Maybe it hurts and I just can’t tell because the rest of me is aching so much. 

We started at 1:00 from John’s house and didn’t get back until 5:00.  Not all of that time was spent peddling.  At Smiley’s, for example, we took at least a half hour to enjoy our ice cream and relax. 

I thought I was prepared.  My bike was serviced last week and, truth be told, performed flawlessly.  Today was sunny the entire day and there was little shade but I was well sunblocked.  I had installed a new water bottle holder on my bike in the past week and tried out a water bottle that had been given to me years ago.  It was a complete failure.  I put lots of ice and cold water in it when I left home; by the time we were 30 minutes into the trip the water was hot.  I plan to throw it away when I have the energy to cross to the other side of the room where I can see it.  I ended up buying water at Smiley’s and that helped tremendously.

It was SO hot!  The pavement just radiated the heat.  I kept telling myself that the Katy Trail is flat, shady, and crushed gravel, not hot pavement.  The other guys assured me that our 20 miles up and down hills today was more work than 40 miles on the rail trail.  I hope they’re right because many, many times today I thought of telling them that I was going to back out of the Missouri trip because I held them up so much.  I also thought of calling Lynn numerous times and asking her to come and get me and take me to my truck so I could come back and get my bike but I managed to make it the whole way.

I can hardly lift my fingers to type tonight so forgive any typos.  I hope I won’t be spending all evening in bed fighting leg cramps though I am certainly expecting that to happen.  I wasn’t even the oldest person in our foresome—Bill Bushman is.  There were a few hills when I just had to walk my bike.  I don’t apologize for that.  I like the quote Lynn and I got from a lady when we were riding in Wheeling once.  She said “I’ve never met a hill yet that I couldn’t push my bike up.”

Before bike riding today, I had a leisurely morning.  For the first time, I took Henry, Gus, and Freddie to school today because Josh had an appointment for an echocardiogram.  Betsy rode the bus.  That all worked out well.  Lynn continued her work on the jackets for Jim and also had both an interpreting session via Zoom for Rockingham County Public Schools and a one-hour long webinar. 

We were both too tired to fix dinner so we went into Staunton where Lynn got a few things at Kroger than we got food from Chick Fil-A for dinner.  We brought it back home and ate it though neither of us was vey hungry.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 27                Infected                   Died

World             149,313,577           3,148,020

US                     32,926,421              587,373

Virginia                656,034                10,724

Augusta County       5,696                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,968,441  (2,477,096 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        51,173  (23,728 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Sorry I can’t write any more because I am pooped!

April 28, 2021

The past three days have led me to experience a wide variety of feelings regarding my health and well-being.  Two days ago, after my incident with chills the night before, I felt extremely weak all day.  Yesterday, after the four-hour bike ride in extreme heat, I was as exhausted as I recall being in decades.  Today, I felt the best I have felt in ages. 

I played two hours of tennis this morning with Rob Cale, Danny Anson, and Marc Kinder.  I think I could have played even more.  The temperature was in the 70’s and it just felt good.  I’ve been playing with a very sore shoulder for weeks which really limits my ability to serve.  Today my shoulder didn’t hurt much at all.  I wish I could report that my level of play was heightened but, strangely enough, I think I played worse today than I have all year.  We played a set with each possible set of partners, as usual.  Today my record was 1 – 2.  I didn’t mind since it just felt so good to be outside playing and feeling good.

I had enough energy after playing tennis for two hours that I came home, ate lunch, and tilled the garden.  We’re not sure what we’ll be planting this year since the deer have ravaged all hopes of having fresh tomatoes the past two years.  Perhaps we’ll just plant some kind of flowers and hope they don’t eat them, too.

I got some additional exercise today from 3:20 – 5:20 because Freddie was here.  He is so much fun to be around!  Today I asked him to do some tough mental addition problems for a first grader such as 15 + 15.  He quickly said 30 and when I asked him how he did it he explained that he added the two tens first then the two fives, then put them together.  Then I asked him was 16 + 17 was.  He said 23 at first but when given a second chance he correctly said 33. 

In addition to doing math, we also played Wii (where I got destroyed playing baseball and tennis), then loaded up our bikes on the old truck and drove to Clymore Elementary School where we rode literally all the way around the school then all the way around Stewart Middle School plus played on the playground. 

To top it off, tonight Lynn wanted to walk after dinner because she hadn’t walked any today.  We walked our usual two mile hike, getting in just as it got dark.

For dinner tonight we got take-out from Flying Pizza in Mount Sidney. We split a calzone (though Lynn ate very little) and also enjoyed an appetizer of panini. It was the first time we’d tried the panini and we loved it.

Lynn got the rest of the girls’ jackets embroidered for Jim’s Cross Country tennis team today.  Now she just has to do the two coaches’.  She is amazingly talented and smart.  And she has a wonderful heart.  I am so, so lucky!

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 28                Infected                   Died

World             150,135,207           3,161,718

US                     32,976,996              588,189

Virginia                657,174                10,735

Augusta County       5,707                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,018,570  (2,506,040 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        51,844  (24,301 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Kay has an appointment for her second Pfizer vaccination tomorrow morning.  That will mean that all of the adults in our immediate family have received both shots.  Hurray!

April 29, 2021

Lynn and I had a very successful morning today.  She did a couple of loads of laundry (as she does most days) then we left for Harrisonburg.  Our first stop was at the bank.  The downtown branch of Wells Fargo has been closed since the pandemic started and that’s where our safety deposit box is so we had to make an appointment to get to it.  I needed to get there in order to drop off our Toyota Venza car title and pick up the Toyota Rav4 car title so we can reassign it to Ann. 

The next stop was to walk on the walking trail at Rockingham County’s Crossroads park.  It was just a one mile loop around the park, but we had never walked on it.  It wasn’t sunny though the temperatures were fine so the walk was enjoyable.  In lots of sunlight the walking trail wouldn’t have been so enjoyable because there’s no shade.

Next we went to Cub Run Elementary School where Lynn gave three bags of books and puzzles to a teacher there.  She had been carrying the books in the back of her car for weeks to give away and we got it done without an incident.  Then we went to Aldi’s, bought some groceries, the bank where we got some cash, then onto another short walk.  Harrisonburg recently opened the Northend Greenway which is a nice walking trail not too far from where I worked at the Rockingham County School Board Office.  This trail was also very nice but also quite short—only 0.6 mile long.  We did pick up 1.2 miles by walking it out and back.

We had a leisurely afternoon.  Lynn worked on her final two jackets for Jim—his and the assistant coach’s.  Then Freddie and Betsy came and stayed with us until Ann picked them up.  Freddie and I played Wii where once again he annihilated me in both tennis and baseball.  The kid is good!  There are some things that, as a grandparent, I’d let my grandchildren win.  When I play Freddie on the Wii, I try my best to beat him and don’t even come close.  He won the first baseball game by the slaughter rule and beat me 7 – 0 in the second.  In tennis, I may have gotten two points in four games. 

Freddie and Betsy helped Lynn and me plant a few things today.  Freddie and I planted the three butterfly bushes that we got last week.  We put them in three of the four corners of our garden.  Lynn and Betsy planted zinnias around the light pole and mail box in the front yard.  Here’s hoping they all do well!

After another good dinner (Lynn fixed fajitas and salad), Lynn suggested that we walk again, so we did our standard two mile walk.  My step total, based on my iPhone, was over 13,000 steps today.  That’s the most I’ve had in ages.  I do believe that I got more exercise in both of the previous two days but my step today was higher today because I had my phone in my pocket the entire day.  Yesterday, I didn’t have it on me when I played two hours of tennis.  And the previous day, it didn’t record my bike pedals as I rode for 4 hours.  But 6 miles of walking is reminiscent of what we did a year ago before Lynn broke her foot.  I was in so much better shape then!

Kay got her second vaccination today, a cause of celebration.  Now all of the adults in our family have had two Pfizer shots.  Henry gets his second one in a couple of weeks.  I am at the point now where I am angry about those who refuse to get vaccinated.  They prolong this pandemic.  If everyone would do the reasonable thing and get vaccinated we could put COVID-19 behind us.  Most people 65 and over have had their shots but the percentage of younger people who have is less than 50%.  The shots are available—many without needing an appointment—but stupid people still aren’t getting them.  The news tonight said that 75% of Congress had been vaccinated.  Give me one good reason why that’s not 100%!

 Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 29                Infected                   Died

World             151,082,468           3,177,719

US                     33,038,616              589,167

Virginia                658,341                10,751

Augusta County       5,712                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,093,967  (2,550,627 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        52,325  (24,697 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Here’s something to celebrate—the last person to die from COVID-19 in Augusta County succumbed on April 6.  We’ve now gone 23 consecutive days without a death.  But America still has nearly 1,000 die each day from it and Virginia has lost 350 residents since April 6.  Poor India now has over 3,000 dying each day from it and has had over a million new cases in just the past three days.

April 30, 2021

Today was the windiest day I can ever remember here.  The winds were all day long, constant, and brisk with speeds of 25 – 30 miles per hour.  It was hard to do anything outside.  In order to get our walking in today, Lynn and I drove to the Valley Mall and walked about 3 miles multiple times around the mall plus down to Target and back. 

Lynn had Physical Therapy this morning.  While she had that, I went to Central and did my usual treasurer’s jobs.  At least today everything went smoothly unlike a week ago.  I updated the Treasurer’s manual I wrote; it now is 96 pages long.

After that and a quick stop at the Staunton library to pick up a book Lynn had reserved, I came home, ate lunch, then headed to Harrisonburg with Lynn.  We didn’t do anything else in Harrisonburg except walk though we did make a stop at Smiley’s for a mid-afternoon ice cream treat.

We had to be back in time for the school bus, of course.  Betsy and Freddie were both here for a while but Josh came fairly soon thereafter and took them on home.  Freddie and I had some time to play some Wii games.

Lynn is still working on Jim’s jackets.  All her embroidery work has been done but now she’s cleaning out the inside of the embroidery so not only will the jackets look good from the outside, they’ll also look good from the inside.  Her work is superb.  She still has about a half dozen to go before we can take them to Jim.

After the kids left, Lynn and I went back to Central and loaded up two boxes of food to take to the Aquirre family.  Central had so much food!  We took it straight to their house.  Gilberto joined Elizabeth outside to meet us.  He looks much, much better now.  Elizabeth said his last few doctors’ appointments are coming up in the next two weeks.  Hurray!

From their house, we drove to Valley Pike.  After all, today is Friday, and Lynn likes Old School burgers on Fridays.  We got our usual plus sweet potato fries.  After we ate back at the house, we worked a bit watering and planting some of the flowers around our house.  Then Lynn returned to her jacket work.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 30                Infected                   Died

World             151,965,915           3,192,060

US                     33,098,234              590,002

Virginia                659,590                10,770

Augusta County       5,724                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,190,879  (2,610,676 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        52,877  (25,018 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

ABC news said that 40% of adults in America now have been fully vaccinated.  However, after I commented yesterday that Augusta County had gone 23 days without a death due to COVID-19, another person died today in Augusta. 

March 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

March 1, 2021

Today was get-back-to-normal day after our weekend trip.  That meant going to Central this morning and doing the weekly count and deposit.  After that, and a stop by the Staunton Library to pick up a book for Lynn, I was home before 11:00.  Lynn had her usual Monday Zoom session with the student then we ate lunch and headed to Harrisonburg for a meeting she had with another parent.  I went along for the ride.

I was anxious during the day awaiting news on my sister’s heart catherization.  Mid-afternoon we got a text from Kit saying that her catherization was normal with no blockage found.  The are going to treat her with medication only—no surgery.  I assume that means she’ll be released tomorrow.

Today’s outdoor temperatures weren’t bad but the wind was so again we passed on walking.  Perhaps later this week we’ll get back on the neighborhood roads.

Virginia is expected to start distributing 69,000 doses of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week which will be prioritized for mass vaccination clinics across the state.  Plus, an additional allotment is expected to be sent to pharmacies participating in a federal partnership to help vaccinate priority groups such as those 65 and over.

I know my posts have gotten shorter lately and that’s partially attributable to Donald Trump no longer being the President.  No longer do I get mad over the assinine comments or tweets he made while he was in that office.  Biden is doing a good job and certainly doesn’t stir me up the way Trump did.  What a pleasant relief!  The news is more boring, of course, but that’s OK by me.

One thing I did get done today was to file my federal income tax.  I also printed the state income tax form which we’ll drop off at the Augusta County Treasurer’s office tomorrow.  We’re due to get nice refunds from both which will go towards the house projects we’ve contracted to have done:  downstairs windows and new garage doors. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 1               Infected                   Died

World             114,986,529           2,549,720

US                     29,314,203              527,224

Virginia                577,174                  8,783

Augusta County       5,200                       59

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,982,780  (686,289 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,440  (8,219 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are so many things hard to explain in these statistics.  For example, though the number of infections is dropping dramatically, the number of deaths are increasing.   The US has “only” 62,239 new cases but has 1,574 new deaths.  Virginia had 1,124 new cases but 231 new deaths.  Why should Virginia have less than 2% of the new cases but 15% of the new deaths?  Augusta County had only 4 new cases but 3 new deaths!  Tell me that isn’t scary….

Plus, the ability to get vaccinations appears to have eased; indeed, Augusta County has over 25% of its population with at least one shot if these figures are correct.  Yet Josh has had no luck in getting his vaccine scheduled.

March 2, 2021

Lynn and I were very efficient this morning.  She had an appointment at 8:30 to get a bone density test so I drove her there.  It only took a few minutes.  While she was getting it, I ordered some prints of Henry and Gus’ basketball pictures from Walmart.  Lynn and I went from Augusta Health to Staples where I left the document I’d been working on to be printed.  Then we went to Walmart and picked up the photos.  Our final stop on the way home was at the Augusta County Commissioner of the Revenue to drop off our state income tax forms.  We were back home by 9:45—a very successful trip.

Lynn still had two jobs for the day.  First she interpreted for a Zoom meeting.  Then she drove to Ottobine Elementary and tested students.  Meanwhile I took a walk.   When Lynn got home I washed her car for her since the forecast for the next five days is no precipitation.

This evening I watched a great basketball game between Baylor, ranked #3 in the nation, and WVU, ranked #6.  Baylor went out to a 12 point lead in the first half before WVU came storming back in the second to open up a seven point lead.  But at the end of regulation, the score was tied 81 all.  It was really a good game with lots of momentum swings.  The teams went back and forth in the overtime as well.  But in the end Baylor held on and hit their free throws in the last minute to take the win, 94 – 89.

It was a disappointing loss for WVU but they played well and proved they can play with a top four team.  But a Mountaineer loss never sits well with me and today was no exception.  There were so many plays today that I wish they could redo.

After the basketball game I switched to the NFHS network and watched a little of the Fort Defiance – Rockbridge volleyball match.  Rockbridge had a very strong team and went up 2 games to 0 shortly after I joined the broadcast.  Fort has a decent team and will win some district matches, I’d predict, but Rockbridge really looked good for the first game of the season for the schools.  Rockbridge won the third game as well.

President Biden said today that there would be enough vaccines in the US by the end of May for every adult who wants one.  That is very good news.  Here are today’s statistics:

March 2               Infected                   Died

World             115,279,135           2,559,175

US                     29,370,202              529,192

Virginia                578,559                  8,943

Augusta County       5,206                       61

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,016,769  (697,879 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,485  (8,238 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Dashboard

Once again, the number of deaths in Virginia rose unmercifully—160 new ones.  Augusta County, which for most of the pandemic had less than 1% of those infected die from COVID-19, now has well above 1% with two additional deaths today.  The number hospitalized remains at 144.

March 3, 2021

Today was a fairly busy day for both Lynn and me.  The weather was great which made it all the more enjoyable. 

My day started with a run to Costco.  I had a medium-sized list of items to get and I was able to secure them all plus a few others.  I was in and out in less than a half hour during the senior time at the store.

Meanwhile, Lynn had a doctor’s appointment.  Her back just hasn’t gotten any better and she wanted her regular doctor to have a look at it.  Dr. Alleyne took an x-ray of her back and immediately gave Lynn some rather frightful news.  First, she had a fracture on her spinal cord which was undoubtedly leading to the pain she’s been having.  Second, her bone density appeared to be too low.  Yesterday Lynn had a bone density scan at Augusta Health but the results hadn’t been sent to Dr. Alleyne yet.  So Lynn was told that 1) she should go to physical therapy to help her back and 2) she would make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor who would make recommendations for treating the fracture.  Lynn was told that she likely has bone density that is lower than the normal peak density (called osteopenia) but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.  Lynn has been taking calcium and iron supplements every day for years now but apparently that wasn’t enough.  So I’ll be writing more about this once she meets with the orthopedic doctor.

Lynn is far from being an invalid.  She walked twice today, each time over two miles.  So she is still quite mobile but sometimes I can see her grimace in pain.  She is slow to get up after lying down.  She tries to lie down a couple of times during the day to rest her back. 

I feel really badly for her.  For one, I likely led to her injury by asking her to help me move the Pergola swings months ago.  Secondly, I should have insisted that she see her doctor before today.  She did go to the emergency room several days after her initial injury but the doctor there said there was no need to take an x-ray.  He was wrong….

One good thing happened today—I picked up the booklet I’d made for Henry detailing his 2020-2021 basketball season.  This is the project I’ve been working on for quite a while now though I don’t think I actually told what I was doing.  It is a 52 page book which includes lots of pictures, including his team pictures which Ann bought the digital rights to, plus the Waynesboro newspaper’s articles about each game.  I was very pleased with how it came out.  Tonight, Lynn and I made a special trip to his house to present it to him.  I think he was pleased.  I was.

I also did some work at Central today.  This is the first of the month so there were bank reconciliations to be done and bills to be paid.  The reconciliations actually went smoothly. 

While I was there, I also went to a meeting I’d been invited to attend about a proposed bicycle trip on the Katy Trail in Missouri.  Bill Bushman, Jim Printy, John Bauman, and Jeff Delong are planning this trip and I’ve been invited to join them.  The trip would be from Monday, May 10 to Saturday, May 15.  I’m very, very hesitant to say yes.  They’ve actually done this bike hike before.  It would involve driving to St. Charles MO on Monday, catching a shuttle to Columbia MO on Tuesday then riding about 30 miles.  On Wednesday, they would ride about 50 miles.  Thursday would be about 40 miles and Friday they would ride the final 35 miles back to St. Charles.  On Saturday they plan to drive home.  I’m just not sure if I am up to the task physically.  I’m not in very good shape and though I’d have two months to get there I just don’t know if I can.  It does intrigue me, though, so I haven’t said no yet.

Lynn had an interpreting meeting via Zoom mid-afternoon.  By that time, I’d decided to work on some additions to my website so I spent a good deal of time doing that.  She and I found time to do our two mile walk and enjoy this good weather.  For dinner, I grilled steaks on the grill and made baked potatoes.  Lynn fixed some mushrooms.  We ate half of everything today and will have the same tomorrow—two good meals.

At the bicycle meeting today, all of us had received both of our COVID-19 shots so we met as we would have this time last year—no masks.  It felt good to have some normalcy return to my life.  As more and more people are vaccinated it will be possible to have more social interactions like this.

In the meantime, COVID-19 isn’t disappearing.  Here are today’s statistics:

March 3               Infected                   Died

World             115,744,703           2,570,420

US                     29,453,901              531,517

Virginia                580,108                  9,326

Augusta County       5,220                       63

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,062,403  (716,660 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        23,096  (8,380 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

As I’ve been writing about for day after day, the number of deaths in Virginia just continue to astound me.  Between yesterday and today there were 379 new deaths.   Augusta County increased by only 14 new cases but had 2 new deaths and still has 144 residents in the hospital.  We’re clearly not out of the woods yet.

March 4, 2021

On the morning news was a blurb about the number of deaths on the VDH website.  The report is that the numbers are high because they have been slow in getting the information in from death certificates so that many of the new deaths reported actually happened weeks, perhaps even months, ago.  That explains why the number has been so high lately compared to the numbers of new cases.

In the news today, the CDC reports that since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 80 million doses have been administered, reaching 15.9% of the total U.S. population.  Virginia has vaccinated 16.6% of its population.  The U.S. is currently administering over 2 million shots a day.

I spent some time today checking into the Katy Trail bike ride again.  Somewhat encouraging is that there is an Amtrak, the Missouri River Runner, that passes through two of the trail towns the group plans to stay in on its way to St. Louis.  So if I decided to give up the ride while there, I could catch the Amtrak, which does allow bicycles, to St. Louis and wait on them.  The other thing I found is that apparently cousin Nick lives just about ten miles from the trail head where they plan to leave their vehicles.  So, I tentatively let the other guys know that I was going to try it.  I hope I’ve made the right decision.  Actually, I decided that it would be better to let them know now that I was in on the trip and, if necessary, later pull out than to tell them no now then later decide to go.

I reported yesterday that Lynn had been diagnosed with a fracture on her spine.  Lynn corrected me today that what she was told is that it was a compressed disc.  She still hasn’t heard back from the orthopedic doctor as to when she will be seen. 

Augusta County’s students have been going to school most of the year two days per week.  But today was the first day for Arlington to have students back in the building.  We talked to Georgia this afternoon who disliked most, of all things, recess.  It seems that teachers wouldn’t allow friends to gather at recess and that didn’t sit well with Georgia.  Her teacher gave the class a writing assignment to write about what they didn’t like about it and I’m sure Georgia’s essay will not be a short one.

Today was one of the least productive days I’ve had since the pandemic began.  The only thing I’ve done a lot of today is eat.  I did a few very, very minor chores today but nothing to brag about.  And I didn’t leave the property.

Tonight we had a special called Zoom meeting of the Central UMC Council.  The issue is that Pastor Won wants to submit several grant requests.  The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank apparently has some money to share and they have welcomed proposals.  Central is asking them to fund some shelving, a cooler, a freezer, a cart, and even an awning, all of which would benefit the CUMC Food Pantry.  That request is not controversial.  But Won is also asking them to fund a refrigerated van which would cost around $45,000.  He also wants to ask the Staunton District of the Virginia UMC Conference to fund $5,000 toward this purchase.  This is something he wanted more than others, including me.  My hesitation was the ongoing costs a van would be to the church—insurance, maintenance, licensing, gasoline, and even electricity if it has to be kept cool at times it isn’t running.  Before the meeting I looked at the website of the company Won had been told by the Food Bank to deal with concerning the van.  I found that they also leased refrigerated vans so tonight when we had our Zoom and others expressed similar hesitations that I had regarding buying it I suggested he change his grant application to lease for six months to see if it would work for us.  Then, if it does, we can re-apply to the Food Bank to purchase.  The others went along with this suggestion and Won is going to check into all this tomorrow.

My sister got out of the hospital today and went to Kit’s house.  She was started on anti-coagulants for her heart.  I hope that’s what she needs and she continues to progress without any impending surgeries.  We’ll just have to wait and see. 

The local news tonight reported that Central Virginia had the first case in Virginia of a child under ten years old dying from COVID-19 today.  That’s scary.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 4               Infected                   Died

World             116,202,844           2,580,611

US                     29,521,987              533,465

Virginia                581,408                  9,357

Augusta County       5,216                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,122,323  (740,786 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        24,012  (8,929 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

I think I heard that Augusta County was giving Johnson and Johnson shots today.  The number of cases in Augusta County was actually reported lower than the previous day so there must have been a foul-up in the data previously. 

March 5, 2021

Today was another day where Lynn had several things scheduled and I had none.  She had an interpreting session in the morning and a doctor’s appointment at her UVA endocrinologist at noon.  Then she had registered for a craft show at the Green Valley Book Fair in the afternoon.  I decided to go along with her to Charlottesville.

It was a good doctor’s visit for Lynn.  She trusts Dr. Dalkin.  Although he is an endocrinologist, he had results of her x-rays and bone density tests. He said that her bone density wasn’t bad but he still is going to recommend that she take Fosamax for the next two years, once per week, which is supposed to strengthen her bones.  But the best news she had was that he looked at her spine x-rays, showed her that, indeed, she had a fractured spine near the base, but said that it would heal itself and would likely not require any additional action except physical therapy which she is scheduled to begin next Wednesday morning.  Her thyroid, which is the reason she goes to Dr. Dalkin, was fine.  He told her she did not need to see an orthopedic doctor for her spine which is good because she still hasn’t received an appointment with one, something she was supposed to have gotten two days ago.  She was very relieved when she left his office.

We came back and split:  she went on to Green Valley to the craft fair and I went into Central because Won had e-mailed me that he needed a check written today for a cooler which CUMC is purchasing now and will be reimbursed by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  While I was there I did a few other treasurer’s jobs.

In the late afternoon we went to Harrisonburg to look for picture frames for Henry and Gus’ basketball pictures.  We wanted them to be hinged, 5” x 7”.  She found some at Michael’s she liked. 

Then we drove to Valley Pike since today was Friday and that meant it was hamburger day from the Old School food truck.  As always, they were delicious as were the sweet potato fries.

We then settled down to watch the Fort Defiance – Staunton football game on the NFHS network.  After Fort got beat 15 – 0 last week at Rockbridge, I had low expectations.  When we turned the game on, FDHS was already down 3 – 0 in the first quarter.  But then things turned Fort’s way and they scored 24 points in the second quarter to take a surprising 24 – 3 lead at halftime.  They followed that up with another score to start the second half to lead 32 – 3 against the team that had beaten East Rockingham last week.   The game was very sloppy; it seemed that almost every play resulted in either a penalty, time out, or injured player.   This made the game drag on and on.  There were no other scores in the third quarter.  Midway through the fourth quarter, FDHS scored again.  The two point conversion failed this time so the score was 38 – 3.  High school games have 12 minute quarters so the expected length of a game is certainly under two hours.  This one took almost three hours with all of the stoppages.  I don’t think I’ve ever watched a football game with so many penalties.  Both sides had penalty after penalty.   I am so glad we watched it from the warmth of our bedroom instead of from the cold bleachers.  It was 32o outside when the game ended.  Staunton managed to score with just under two minutes to go in the game so the final score was 38 – 10.  This was a great win for the Indians—a rare one against Staunton.

The drama continued today regarding the refrigerated van for Central.  Won sent an e-mail out this morning that he had talked to the people at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank who said that a proposal to lease the van would not be accepted.  So Won pushed again to apply for the grant to buy it.  I told him and the others that I would only be in favor if the church would not have to incur any expense other than the insurance.  Won offered that he, himself, would pay for any expenses if he couldn’t get community resources for it.  The others generally agreed but Bill Bushman held out his objection and then reminded the group that last evening the decision had been made that if the lease was a no-go then the idea would be dropped for a year.  So as of tonight I don’t know for sure what will come from this proposal.  I just know that Central’s finances are in poor shape and we can’t afford any new expenses.  We can’t even pay for the ones we already have.

A month ago, Lynn and I planned a tentative get-away next Wednesday – Friday to a section of North Carolina we’ve not been to, around Boone.  Now it looks like the weather will be very nice during that time period so we’re fairly sure now that we’ll follow through with these plans.  She has physical therapy first thing Wednesday morning then we’ll head south. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 5               Infected                   Died

World             116,650,230           2,591,104

US                     29,592,719              535,560

Virginia                583,060                  9,428

Augusta County       5,232                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,175,489  (763,489 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,459  (9,134 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 144 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

March 6, 2021

We got a save-the-date card today from nephew Vic and his fiancé Amy.  Their wedding is scheduled for Friday, July 2, in Kennebunkport ME.  Lynn and I want to go but there are lots of things up in the air.  For example, we don’t know if our children and families will be invited or not.  We had previously heard that they were limited to fewer people than they wanted to invite.  And just recently Maine revised its rules for COVID-19 to allow for large gatherings.  They have a website for their wedding and on the site it says that children are not invited to the wedding so even if our children come I don’t know what they’d do with the grandchildren.  Vic and Amy have reserved some rooms at the resort where the wedding will be and at another hotel not far faway.  The rooms are the resort are expensive, $349/night.  We also don’t know what my brother’s plans will be.  At one point he told us he wanted to combine Vic’s wedding with spreading some of Ann’s ashes in Maine.  But tonight when we texted him he said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.  Driving there would be very difficult—over ten hours each way.  The flight cost from Charlottesville isn’t bad.  So, over the next few weeks, we’ll need to make plans.

Involved with those plans is a scheduled trip Lynn and I have made a deposit on to Portugal and northern Spain.  It was supposed to be July 3 – 14 but now we’ll need to get that changed, too.  Lots of telephone/computer time ahead of us!

We called Mary K. today to talk to check on how she’s doing and chat with her a little about the wedding.  She seemed better today.  She didn’t know if cousins would be invited to the wedding or not but promised to find out and get back to us tomorrow.

Today was a typical Saturday.  I had a leisurely morning which included a trip to the dump.  After that, Lynn and I went to Elizabeth’s house to take the food I had brought home from Central yesterday. 

This afternoon, the Gutshall family came over.  I had requested help with putting our Pergola swings back up and this time Lynn was not going to be involved since this is probably how she hurt her back initially.  The whole family came and stayed for a while.  Henry, Gus, Josh, and I got the swings back up ready for warm weather which is supposed to happen this week.

After that, I watched the WVU – Oklahoma State basketball game.  This was the worst game of the year for WVU.  Oklahoma State’s best two players had injuries and didn’t play so you’d think the Mountaineers would have rolled, especially since it was a home game.  No, they played terribly and lost 85 – 80. 

Lynn worked on several craft projects today.  First, she worked on a pillow for her friend Cheryl Wright.  Then she imprinted a shirt for my brother Butch to give to a friend of his.  Then she worked on a porch sign for our house with “Hello Spring” on it.  We’ve now removed her “Let it Snow” sign.  I sure hope the snow is done for the year.

Here are today’s numbers:

March 6               Infected                   Died

World             117,055,373           2,598,848

US                     29,650,671              536,999

Virginia                584,537                  9,519

Augusta County       5,242                       67

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,220,399  (782,229 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,711  (9,333 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 144 Augusta County residents in the hospital today with COVID-19. 

The Augusta County School Board has decided that students will be back in school four days a week starting April 15.  I suppose this will affect us since Freddie rides the bus to our house.  I’m sure we can work it out.  In fact, there are no conflicts on our calendar now from April 15 until school is out May 27 except for a possible trip we’ve considered to Oregon in late May.  Right now I’m not sure which weekday the students will not be going; perhaps Mondays.

March 7, 2021

In two months I am supposed to go on a bicycle ride of around 150 miles over four days.  I am in no shape whatsoever for this.  So I anxiously await for warmer weather so I can get some training in.  I refuse to walk or ride outdoors when the temperature is in the 30’s.  Today’s weather was not great though dry.  The high of the day was around 45.  At least the wind wasn’t as fierce today as it was for the past several days.  So this afternoon Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  It was a little cold but we both needed it.

Kay called this afternoon and when I told her about my plans, she suggested that I get an indoor bike trainer which allows you to mount and peddle your bike indoors (without going anywhere, of course).  She even thought Jim had one.  So I texted him and, sure enough, he had one I can borrow.  That takes away lots of my worries—I was not looking forward to riding on the hilly roads around here.  The trail we’ll be riding on in Missouri is completely level.   Plus, I worried about the safety of riding on the roads here.  I hope this works out.

Today was a typical Sunday except Sunday School was canceled because at 10:30 Won had a ceremony on Zoom for receiving a new member into Central, a Mary Baldwin University student.  As soon as that was over Lynn and I went to Central to pick up soup and the monthly communion.  We also picked up soup for Elizabeth’s family.  Then we went to Walmart and Aldi’s to get some groceries.

We walked when we got back.  Then I pretty much killed time until dinner while Lynn worked on her projects.  After dinner we got ice cream at Smiley’s.

My sister was supposed to call us today to discuss Vic’s wedding but she didn’t call.  Then late in the evening she texted and said that cousins were invited but not children.  That leads me to believe none of our children will go which is fine.  Lynn and I will.  I’m leaning toward flying to Boston then catching Amtrak to Kennebunkport but Lynn is pushing to drive (10+ hours).  We’ve got four months to figure this out.

With Trump out of office things are pleasantly calm nowadays.  Facebook has much less vitriol.  And my posts here are shorter because there’s less to complain about.  This is all good.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 7               Infected                   Died

World             117,431,033           2,604,786

US                     29,693,869              537,826

Virginia                585,700                  9,596

Augusta County       5,246                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,267,459  (802,667 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,885  (9,363 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Again the statistics are confusing.  Augusta County had only four new cases in the last 24 hours but there was one more death.  And a record number of 145 people are currently hospitalized.   The US is certainly showing progress.  There were under 50,000 new cases in the last day, which is much lower than it has been for months. 

March 8, 2021

Monday morning means returning to Central to make the weekly deposit, pay bills, and set up payroll for the first half of March.  It went smoothly today though I had to wait for a while on the new counters, John Myers and Bobbie Rosson, to get their part done.  Best of all, Central finally had a decent amount to deposit.  That will definitely help with the rest of the bills and payroll this month.

Today was a very nice day with highs near 60o but I was so busy I didn’t get outside at all.  I really wish I could have walked.

My afternoon was especially busy.  I was back at Central at 1:00 to help unload the van from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank for our Food Pantry.  That took less than an hour so I immediately headed for Eddie Smith’s house.  He had stopped by the church early in the morning and told me he had a new computer and modem.  I had previously offered to help him once we were vaccinated so today was the day. 

I spent over two hours at Ed’s house setting up his new Lenova computer.  There were a number of roadblocks but I finally got it pretty much the way he wanted it.  I downloaded and installed Google Chrome, then set up his e-mail and Facebook from there.  I wanted to set up his e-mail through the Windows 10 e-mail app but I couldn’t get it to work.  One of the issues is that his DSL through Verizon was very slow.  I’m so glad I don’t have it.

As I was leaving there, I got a text from Lynn that there was some food at Central that had been picked up today for Elizabeth’s family.  So that was my next stop.  From there I went to a computer store near Kroger.  I had Lynn’s Dell laptop with me.  She rarely uses this computer; it is for her sewing room because her embroidery machine is for Windows-only computers.  But sometime in the past year the letter “c” quit working on the keyboard.  I tried blowing air around it, removing the keycap, etc. but couldn’t get it to work.  As a work-around, I connected another keyboard via one of its USB ports.  But I thought I’d just get it fixed.  Well, I was told that it would cost $130 – $150 to be repaired.  I opted to not do this.  It isn’t as convenient to use the extra keyboard but it is free…

My next stop took WAY too long.  I went through the Kroger drive thru to get a prescription for Lynn which had been called in by her UVA doctor.  She had previously called and verified that the prescription was ready for pickup.  However, she had not previously had any prescriptions from Kroger or anywhere else in 2021 and in January we switched our Part D (prescription) service to a new company, Aetna.  When I had my prescriptions refilled earlier this year I had no issues.  But when I waited my turn to pick up Lynn’s I was told that Aetna wouldn’t pay because they were not the “primary” Part D company listed for her.  The Kroger lady was actually superbly nice and helpful.  She offered the prescription to me at a reduced price outside of insurance which I paid and then received her medication but she also told me that if I would get this issue cleared up with Aetna within a few days she could re-bill Aetna and I’d get my money back.  I should point out that all this took about 20 minutes and in the meantime five cars were in line behind me, undoubtedly ready to hang me from the nearest tree. 

So after I got the prescription, I decided to get it resolved right then and there.  From the Kroger parking lot I called Aetna.  I was told that Anthem was listed as her primary provider.  No, I told the representative, Anthem is our supplementary insurance for Medicare Part A and Part B, not Part D.  She said that she could get it resolved but I’d have to wait on the phone while she did so and it might take 30 – 45 minutes.  Well, she was right.  It took about 45 minutes of being on hold.  Several times during that time she came back online to ask some questions, get Lynn’s phone number to call her to make sure I had her approval to seek this, etc.  Finally, nearly an hour after I had gotten the original prescription, she came back on and said it was all taken care of.  She had other good news—under our plan the price for Lynn’s medicine was $0.  I quickly went back into Kroger and they were able to verify that now Aetna was Lynn’s primary provider for prescription drugs, got the bill switched, and my credit card refunded the amount I had paid earlier.  It was worth the hassle. 

On today’s news, the CDC confirmed that anyone who is two weeks beyond vaccination is fully protected and can meet with others who are in the same condition without masks or social distancing.  Great!

Here are today’s statistics:

March 8               Infected                   Died

World             117,736,220           2,611,525

US                     29,741,865              538,573

Virginia                586,592                  9,683

Augusta County       5,251                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,306,251  (823,887 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        25,908  (10,356 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The numbers continue to improve.  Augusta had only five new cases with zero new deaths or hospitalizations.

March 9, 2021

Today was the prettiest day we’ve had in 2021.  Lynn had to work this morning for Rockingham County Public Schools so I had plenty of time to take a 2.6 mile walk.  It felt and smelled really nice outside.  I had hoped to walk a second time with Lynn but she didn’t get back home from her work in Harrisonburg until mid-afternoon.  Then, her friend Cheryl Wright came over and the two of them did Cricut work for a while. 

Jim had made arrangements with us to come here this evening around dusk to pick up the trailer and his big zero-turn mower which has been sitting in our garage.  I did what I could to get things ready for him before he came here but there wasn’t a lot I could do.

He got here about 6:45.  We quickly jumped on what we had to do:  unload his two snow blowers from the truck, then move the truck to the field and attach the trailer to it, then come back to the driveway and load his mower on the trailer.  Finally, we moved the snow blowers into the garage where the mower had been.  Everything went smoothly.  Lynn and I had taken food to Elizabeth shortly before he came and we then made a stop at Chicano Boy Taco to pick up dinner for the three of us.  We ate the dinner shortly before he left to get back to Roanoke.  He wasn’t here 30 minutes in total.

We found out that our new garage doors will be installed on March 24.  That will make it nicer for us.  Right now we cannot raise the garage door in front of where Lynn parks because the spring is broken.

After Jim left this evening, Lynn and I made a run to Smiley’s for dessert.  We won’t be eating there for several days because we’ll be leaving for Boone NC tomorrow morning as soon as Lynn’s physical therapy for her back is done.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 9               Infected                   Died

World             118,144,229           2,621,025

US                     29,800,212              540,455

Virginia                588,129                  9,790

Augusta County       5,253                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,369,608  (850,774 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        26,047  (10,421 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County had only two new cases today.  Hurray!  Maybe we’re getting a grip on this virus now.  I know it was nice for me to not worry about wearing a mask when I was in Ed Smith’s home or with Cheryl Wright in our house today because all of us are fully vaccinated.

March 10, 2021

Today was our day to drive to Boone, NC for a min-vacation.  We chose Boone because this is one part of North Carolina we’ve never been to.  We had seen online that there were some good places to see.  The weather forecast was very good so it made sense to come and enjoy our vaccinated bodies.

We couldn’t leave until after Lynn had her initial physical therapy session at Synergy in Verona.  We had no idea how long this would take.  We got there at 7:45.  She went in while I waited in the car, working Whirly Word puzzles, trying to nap, etc.  I had no idea that she would be inside until almost 9:30.  But it was a good therapy session for her and she is scheduled to go twice a week for the next six weeks.

Soon we were heading south on I-81.  Traffic was normal—not light, not heavy.  We were on I-81 from Verona to just north of Abingdon.  We had thought about eating lunch at Draper Mercantile which we’ve done in the past, but we had brought along yogurt so we just ate at a rest stop south of Wytheville.

Once we got off I-81 we rode on Rt. 91 to Damascus.  We’d taken this road plenty of times in the past since we ride bikes out of Damascus.  But from Damascus on it was new territory for us.  The road to Boone was windy and actually went from Virginia to Tennesssee to North Carolina.  We got to our hotel around 2:00, thus making it around a 4 ½ hour drive. 

After we checked in and unloaded, we decided to go to Blowing Rock today.  It was about 12 miles away and an easy drive.  I took lots of good pictures—you can see in my pictures why the mountains are called Blue Ridge.  After we visited Blowing Rock we drove to a park with a trail called the Glen Burney trail in the middle of the town of Blowing Rock.  Lynn had found this trail on a map we’d been given.  It said that the trail was “strenuous” but went by several pretty waterfalls so we decided to take it.  The first half mile was very mild so we thought that it had been mislabeled strenuous.  But then we started going down and down and down, over thousands of roots and rocks.  Walking went very slowly, especially since Lynn had a bad back.  The trail was supposed to be around 1.6 miles out and the same distance back.  We made it most of the way before turning back.  It was certainly strenuous coming back up to our car.  But there were many scenic parts of the trail and I did get some good photos.

We were ready for dinner by the time our walk was over.  We thought we should eat local food so we went to a place called the Pedaling Pig so we could enjoy North Carolina BBQ.  It was a very good choice.  We split a sampler intended for one person though it was plenty for the two of us.

We had a chance to drive around Boone a little.  It is the home of Appalachian State University and is certainly a college town.  In fact, if the University was not here I’m not sure what would be.  And this city is so remote that you have to wonder why it was built here.  This town is of Daniel Boone history and has less than 20,000 population.  The traffic wasn’t bad here and it was fairly easy to find your way around.  We scoped out a bakery I’ll be going to tomorrow morning to grab sticky buns for our breakfast and a McDonald’s to get Lynn’s sweet tea on the way back.

One disappointment was that we decided to find some good North Carolina ice cream.  There was an ice cream bar listed not too far from our hotel but when we drove there we found that it was closed, perhaps due to the pandemic.  Not to be deterred, we found another ice cream store called Kilwin’s.  The only issue was that it was back in Blowing Rock.  Nonetheless, we drove there and enjoyed a good dessert.

We returned to the hotel tired after a fairly long day.  I did not sleep well at all last night so I was particularly exhausted.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 10             Infected                   Died

World             118,608,657           2,630,911

US                     29,858,762              542,018

Virginia                589,375                  9,849

Augusta County       5,258                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,428,900  (882,082 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        26,768  (11,122 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County still has 145 hospitalized with COVID-19.

March 11, 2021

I was sore all day today from our walk on that strenuous trail yesterday.  Nonetheless, we got in over 10,000 steps today. 

First thing this morning, Lynn washed her hair while I went to a bakery called Stick Boys Bakery to get us some pastries for breakfast.  They were great and I’ll be back there tomorrow morning to get her another sticky bun with pecans and raisins on it.  After breakfast, we hopped in the car and drove to Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina’s highest point.  It took about 40 minutes to get there.  It was a little expensive, $20 each, but we were able to drive up the mountain then walk on a mile-high swinging bridge.  Of course, I took lots of pictures.  We also went to a nature preserve within the park but most of the animals weren’t available for view yet such as the bears, cougars, and elk.  We did see an otter and an eagle. 

On our way back to Boone, we took a short detour to a little town where Mast’s General Store was begun many, many years ago and which has been preserved well.  The store is still a working retail store. 

Getting home around lunchtime, we ate our lunch, rested for a little while, then headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway and a trail called the Cascades trail about 30 minutes from the hotel in the opposite direction as Grandfather Mountain.  The sign said the trail was a leisurely 30 minute walk but actually it was a tough walk similar to yesterday’s strenuous hike.  It was worth it, though, as we saw a beautiful waterfall after trudging down the trail.  It took us a lot longer than a half hour to get back to our car.  I had to stop and rest several times.

Back in Boone, we stopped at a TJ Maxx for Lynn to look for some tennis shoes.  She was unsuccessful.  Then we came on to the hotel and rested some more before heading out to the campus of Applachian State University.  We parked in a visitor parking area then walked around the campus for about 45 minutes.  Appalachian State is similar to JMU.  It has about 18,000 students.  Its campus is fairly compact in Boone.  After all, Boone is in the middle of a very mountainous area of North Carolina so there isn’t a lot of spare space for buildings.

From there we drove to dinner at a restaurant called Vidalia.  Lynn had found this on line and was enamored that they offered a tomato pie appetizer.  She had that plus some pimento cheese on bread (actually it was sourdough multigrain bread from the bakery where I had bought our breakfast, Stick Boy), and a pear salad.  I had chicken and waffles and couldn’t eat it all.  No ice cream for us tonight.

The town of Boone is very careful with COVID-19 protocols.  Most stores have a sign in them which says “No Mask, No Service.” 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 11             Infected                   Died

World             119.095,926           2,640,843

US                     29,922,305              543,585

Virginia                590,625                  9,902

Augusta County       5,261                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,493,097  (916,276 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        27,435  (11,493 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 145 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

I was exhausted by the end of the day again.  I did not sleep well again last night.  Hopefully tonight I’ll finally get a good night’s sleep.

March 12, 2021

I did get a good night’s sleep last night which helped me a lot.  The drive home was a long one; we got here about 1:45. We were supposed to leave after Lynn did an interpreting session for Rockingham County Public Schools but it turns out that the Spanish speaking mother was a no-show so we got away sooner than we expected.

Before we left we again enjoyed breakfast from Stick Boys Bakery.  Plus, Lynn asked me to get two loaves of their Country Multigrain Sourdough bread.  We’ll have it for breakfast for the next several days.

On the way home we went by Ashe County Cheese Shop, a company in West Jefferson, NC where we were not only able to purchase a lot of different kinds of cheese but also see it being made.  This was about 30 minutes from Boone. 

Ashe County rang a bell with me and when I got home I confirmed that 8 generations ago William and Elizabeth Hill migrated to West Virginia from Ashe County.  I had thought that Ashe County would have been near Asheville but it turns out it is not. 

This was a good trip for us—not too long but still to somewhere we’d never been.  We got everything done we had scheduled to do.  We ate well and got our steps in. 

The drive home took a total of about 4 ½ hours; our only stop after the Cheese Shop was at a rest stop for a bathroom break and lunch (yogurt from our cooler). 

Lynn had scheduled a Physical Therapy session today at 4:00 and that’s one reason why we left Boone early in the morning.  We got back in plenty of time to unpack our belongings.  She even did a load of laundry before leaving for her PT. 

This was Friday so our dinner was the usual—hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike. 

Today is March 12.  A year ago on March 12 we watched Henry play his one and only soccer game as a freshman.  That weekend was when things came to a standstill with COVID-19.   So we have been under this coronavirus canopy for a full year now.  Thanks goodness things are finally looking up.  On our way home we learned that Josh had gotten an appointment for his first Pfizer vaccine next week.  Hurrah!

I’ve pretty much decided to keep this blog going until April 20.  That will be one full year, 365 posts.  Writing daily has helped me deal with all of the frustrations, fears, and pressure of COVID-19.  Now that Lynn and I are fully vaccinated we both feel a tremendous relief.  I’ve written over 500 pages of text already.

After our dinner tonight, I decided to watch the Fort Defiance – Riverheads football game, broadcast over the NFHS network.  I didn’t expect the game to be very close.  Fort has a 1 – 1 record this year while Riverheads has won the last four Class 1 state championships.   To my recollection, these two teams have not played in many, many years.  At least the two teams had a beautiful night for football though I still preferred to watch it from the comforts of our basement.

Riverheads is a grind-it-out team and they certainly did on their first possession, including a big play on 4th and 11.  They scored after a 4 ½ minute drive, taking the lead 7-0.  Fort, on the other hand, ill-advisedly went for it with 4th and 3 from their own 33 yard line.  The play turned into a fumble and Riverheads was on their way for an apparent second score.  Again it came down to a 4th down play from the 4 yard line but their pass fell incomplete and Fort took back over.  They couldn’t do anything and ended up punting.  The entire quarter was played on the Fort Defiance side of the field—not a good sign.  Penalty after penalty went against the Indians.  Riverheads scored with a few seconds left in the quarter to take a 14 – 0 lead.  From the get-go, Fort played in a desperation mode, going for fake punts and 4th down runs, none of which worked.  Meanwhile, Riverheads kept grinding it out with very few penalties.  None of their plays went for long yardage but none went backwards.  Fort didn’t cross the 50 yard line until late in the first half and they fumbled on the next play.  The halftime score was 35 – 0.   I quit watching at the end of the third and the score 49 – 0.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 12             Infected                   Died

World             119,582,242           2,650,508

US                     29,989,051              545,354

Virginia                592,214                  9,961

Augusta County       5,267                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,557,478  (945,336 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,126  (12,459 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County now has 147 residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  You’d think with all the progress that has been made with vaccinations this number would decrease but it is higher than ever.

March 13, 2021

Today was a good Saturday.  The weather was nice—nice enough for Lynn and me to take a walk this afternoon.  This morning we were busy doing things for other people.

We started at Central picking up a large box of food for the Aguirre family.  Central is given SO much food by one of the local Food Lion grocery stores and today was an especially big haul.  We were able to take just a fraction of that food yet fill a large box with groceries for Elizabeth and family.  We were also able to put together a box for Lynn’s student Juan Pablo.  We then delivered the boxes.  They live in opposite directions—Elizabeth in Mount Solon and Juan Pablo in Waynesboro.  Between we made a stop at Walmart to pick up a few items.  It is so nice to be able to go into Walmart (and other stores) without worrying about COVID-19.  By the time we picked up and delivered the food and returned home, it was almost noon.

Next I made my weekly trip to the dump including stopping by the Gutshall’s to get theirs.  The old truck works just fine for this task.  We talked to Ann about having her family over for dinner and we agreed that tonight would work.

That meant Lynn spent a lot of time this afternoon fixing a marvelous supper.  She marinated two huge packages of chicken strips and made a large batch of onion fritters.  And she cooked a large pot of green beans.  And she made rolls using her sour dough.  We needed every bit of it for our dinner.  Every piece of chicken, every onion fritter, and every roll was eaten.  There were a few green beans left over.  Plus, she found a nice ice cream treat she had bought at Aldi’s which served as a good dessert.

We ate outside.  The temperature was in the low 60’s so it was very bearable.  The only thing we both forgot about was that Betsy doesn’t eat meat products any longer but fortunately we were able to add pimento cheese to the mix so she had that along with her rolls and onion fritters. 

Freddie brought a football to toss but even before we ate he reminded me that I had told him that I’d play tennis with him when the weather was better.  It was better today, for sure, so I couldn’t say no.  He actually did very well.  His eye-hand coordination has definitely improved.  It was fun.  Henry and Gus got on the court and hit some balls, too.  Ann, Josh, Lynn, and I were able to chat after we ate.  Everything was almost like old times.  It felt sooooooo good.

Henry had previously asked if I’d help him with some math so when it got dark the others went home and Henry stayed.  He and I worked for about an hour on his assignment.  He catches on very quickly so it wasn’t hard to show him what to do.  Of course, I had a good time doing the problems with him.

This was the weekend for conference basketball championships but none of our favorite teams made it to the finals of their tournament.  WVU got beat by Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals, Virginia Tech lost to North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals, and UVA had to drop out of the ACC tournament due to a COVID-19 infection.  Tomorrow is the day that brackets are made for the NCAA March Madness tournament.  All of our teams should make it in the tournament; it will be interesting to see how they do.

This time next weekend all four of Ann, Josh, Lynn, and I will be vaccinated since Josh gets his first on Tuesday. 

Tonight is the night to set our clocks ahead for spring.  That means daylight will last longer beginning tomorrow night.  I love daylight savings time.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 13             Infected                   Died

World             120,042,087           2,659,118

US                     30,043,662              546,605

Virginia                593,562                  9,985

Augusta County       5,277                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,623,902  (971,254 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,560  (12,681 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Now there are 148 Augusta County residents hospitalized.  When will this number ever stop increasing?? 

March 14, 2021

The weather this Sunday was again nice so once again we were able to get in our standard two mile walk after lunch.  The temperature was a little cooler than yesterday but still around 60o

The morning was a typical Sunday morning.  I did our Zoom Sunday School class.  Lynn did some cleaning up around the house.  We both enjoyed getting up a little later since this was the first morning of daylight savings time.

This time of the year I debate with myself about when to turn the oil burner off and heat just with the heat pump.  Right now they work in tandem to keep our house nice and warm.  There’s no question to me that the hot water radiator heat from the boiler feels warmer so I’m hesitant to turn it off.  I think I’m going to wait one more week to make the change to heat pump only.

This afternoon was a lazy one.  We watched a little of the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship which involved WVU playing Baylor.  Baylor was much too strong, though, and won easily. 

I grilled ribeye steaks tonight.  We also fixed some of the little potatoes from Costco and had green beans left over.  It was a good meal.

After that, we decided to get in walk #2 for the day, enjoying the extra daylight now.  We drove to Grottoes and walked one loop on the 1.4 mile walkway around their park.  It was an easy walk, just right for my fitness and Lynn’s bad back.  From there we drove to Smiley’s and had ice cream.

We got home just in time to Zoom with Jim and Kay.  Both were a little late joining; it turns out I had the wrong time on the invitation.  But we had a good chat with them.

Tonight featured the release of the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament schedule.  WVU plays Morehead State on Friday.  Also on Friday, Virginia Tech plays Florida and Georgia Tech plays Loyola Chicago.  On Saturday, Virginia plays Ohio U. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 14             Infected                   Died

World             120,401,629           2,664,662

US                     30,081,296              547,220

Virginia                594,735                10,019

Augusta County       5,279                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,684,791  (974,837 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,639  (12,681 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County only had two new cases since yesterday and no additional deaths or hospitalizations.  That’s encouraging.

March 15, 2021

Today was a typically busy Monday though I confess we didn’t get up until almost 7:00 AM whereas we used to get up at 6:00 AM.  That’s what daylight savings time has done to us.  As most Mondays, it started for me at Central paying bills, making the weekly deposit, etc.  This all went smoothly.

I next hustled to Bridgewater for my car’s state inspection appointment.  That also went smoothly.  By the time I got back home and grabbed some lunch it was time to go to Central again, this time to unload the Food Bank’s truck.  The order this week was only two pallets of food but it was still much easier to unload the pallets in the Church’s parking lot from their truck than to have to drive to Verona to get them then haul them to Central on my pickup truck.

Lynn and I walked when I got back home.  My legs had been hurting while walking but today they felt OK.  The temperature was in the mid 40’s so we had to bundle up.

We opted to get pizza tonight despite having leftovers from last night’s steak dinner.  Now we’ll have leftovers for the next two nights.  The reason for getting pizza tonight is that Vito’s Pizza Pie isn’t open on Tuesday nights.  It is really good pizza.

I spent a lot of time after dinner checking on a place for our entire family to stay at Vic and Amy’s wedding in Kennebunkport, ME.  It may be that one or more families don’t decide to make the 10 hour drive there this summer but we felt like we should go ahead and get rooms reserved which can later be canceled instead of trying to make last-minute reservations when they may not be available.  On Vic and Amy’s wedding website, several hotels were mentioned.  The actual hotel where the wedding will be was a possibility but it was very expensive.  In the meantime, we learned that the DeLeo family (Joseph, Kit, MK, and families) had rented a house.  It turned out that one of the hotels on the list of suggested ones from Vic and Amy is only 0.3 mile from the house the DeLeo’s will be at.  Plus, this hotel, the Rhumb Line Resort, had both indoor and outdoor pools.  And its rates were approximately half the cost of the rooms at the resort where the wedding will be.  So, we called tonight and reserved five rooms, including one for my brother.  We got them all together and poolside.

One issue is vaccination.  Ann, Josh, Jim, Lynn, and I will have had our vaccines.  But Kay and Andy have no idea when they will be able to get theirs.  We’re told that by July everyone who wants one will have been vaccinated.  But until that happens there’s still some uncertainty in the Foy family.

Tonight I got a text from one of my old tennis buddies asking if I was interested and available this Wednesday morning to play at the Mary Baldwin courts.  I said yes.  I hope I still remember how to hit the ball!

I didn’t see the news tonight so I have no idea what’s new with the COVID-19 pandemic, but here are the statistics:

March 15             Infected                   Died

World             120,754,630           2,671,535

US                     30,136,475              547,991

Virginia                595,865                10,060

Augusta County       5,285                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,740,975  (1,010,519 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,383  (12,884 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

A landmark of over a million Virginians fully vaccinated; yet, a new record for Augusta County hospitalizations due to coronavirus—149.

March 16, 2021

Today was one of those days that, on reflecting back on what happened, I had a difficult time remembering much of anything significant that occurred.  Maybe I’m getting old, maybe today was just boring.  Either way, the most significant thing that happened was that Josh got his first Pfizer vaccine.

Lynn got a haircut early this morning.  As soon as she got back, we both took her car to McDonough Toyota.  Her car had an appointment there to be inspected (McDonough inspects cars bought there for free) and we wanted to have a look at the new 2021 Venzas since we may elect to get Lynn a new car this year, freeing up for Ann’s family, should they want it, the opportunity to get a good deal from us on Lynn’s RAV 4.  Lynn’s car is a 2017 model with 85,000 miles but has nothing wrong with it that I know of.

The Venza has three different models.  No surprise, the salesman there that we have dealt with in the past, Richard Harlow, started us with the top of the line, the Limited Edition.  It was an impressive car with leather seats, a 12.3” touchscreen display, and, like all Venzas, was a hybrid.  We took it for a short drive.  The touchscreen included navigation that was easy to use.  I could tell Lynn was hooked on this one.  We looked at the bottom of the line, the LE, which costs about $11,000 less than the Limited Edition.  It had a much smaller screen with no navigation.  The Limited Edition was keyless; the LE had a key.  The Limited Edition had seats that both were heated and self-cooled; the LE had neither. 

I did want Lynn to look at the 2021 Rav4 as well but McDonough had only one left and it was one of the entry level ones which she wasn’t interested in.  So we left with Richard promising to let us know when they got more Rav4’s in so we could compare it to the Venza.  Personally, I think Lynn’s mind is already made up but we didn’t discuss it much.

We were back in time for Lynn to do her scheduled 11:30 Zoom.  Two days a week she, a teacher, a parent, and a non-communicative three year old who won’t wear a mask have a Zoom meeting.  Today, for the first time, as they were finishing up the young boy said “Bye” which is the first word Lynn has heard him speak.

This afternoon was frustrating for me.  I had agreed to meet three other men at Central at 1:00 to help unload a new refrigerator that Central was getting from the Food Bank.  I was at CUMC yesterday when Caroline Jones got the call that the truck would be here today at 1:00.  Well, we waited and waited.  Caroline called several times.  Finally, near 3:00 the truck arrived.  But getting it into the church was not an easy task.  It was a very large, two door refrigerator that came enclosed in a wooden case for transport.  It wouldn’t fit through the double door on Central’s first floor until we removed the threshold.  Then it squeezed in where we quickly saw that it wouldn’t fit through the door into the Food Pantry room.  So on Thursday we’re going to try to remove its wheels which will lower it enough to slide through the door where we’ll re-attach the wheels.  The issue is that it is very, very heavy. 

I hustled home.  Henry was waiting for me with two pages of a math assignment he wanted help with.  These were very tough problems I’m going to label as Algebra III such as finding all the zeros of the polynomial f(x) = x4 – x3 – 31x2 + x + 30 = 0.  There were several key concepts in this assignment involving theorems I hadn’t looked at for years and years including Decartes’ Rule of Signs and the Rational Root Theorem.  They quickly came back to me but it still took us nearly two hours to complete his assignment.  Henry is a quick learner, very good at math, but having only three hours (at most) of math per week is not enough for tough material like this.  Worst of all, apparently he has no textbook for this course.  With no textbook, how can a student see examples of how to solve problems?  I think one of the most important things to learn when you take a math course is to learn to read the textbook, following its examples.  In his class, the instruction is all from the teacher in class; there is no textbook to see additional examples from.  I do think his teacher, a former colleague of mine, must be working hard to keep on top of this math, but I really wish he had a good textbook.  COVID-19 has really been tough on math classes because students can’t collaborate with each other outside of class because they can’t get together.  Henry is a quick learner; I’m not sure how others in the class who don’t have his propensity for math are surviving.

Yesterday I called AAA in Charlottesville to check on the money we had put toward last year’s Puerto Rico trip.  I had to wait almost an hour before I got through to an agent.  I quickly learned that the agent we had worked with last year, before the pandemic, no longer works there.  But the lady I spoke to found out information.  She said she would need to do some checking about our deposit and would get back to me within 24 hours at the latest.  Well, it has now been 36 hours and I have nothing from her.  We put down around $2,400 on this trip before the pandemic and I am not going to politely forfeit this money. 

Again I didn’t have a chance to watch the news today but I did look online.  The cool thing is that there is little news of consequence nowadays.  What a change since Trump left office!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 16             Infected                   Died

World             121,215,268           2,681,621

US                     30,190,361              549,246

Virginia                597,141                10,104

Augusta County       5,294                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,775,063  (1,025,332 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,505  (12,983 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County had the same number of hospitalized residents today as yesterday, 149.  But the number of cases in the County has dramatically slowed as it has elsewhere. 

March 17, 2021

We got our stimulus money today.  That should help with the new car purchase.  Jim told us he got his, also.

My morning was spent at Eddie Smith’s house.  He had four or five things he wanted done on his new computer and it took me a long time but I finally got them all done.  He is such a good man; I’d do most anything for him.  He is 86 years old but his mind is still quite sharp.

After lunch I ran a couple of errands—picked up a prescription at Kroger and dropped off a library book for Lynn.  Then I went to the Mary Baldwin tennis courts to play a couple of sets of doubles for the first time in a year.  The weather was fine—temps in the lower 60’s.  My tennis wasn’t but I didn’t expect it to be.  I played with Rob Cale, Marc Kinder, and Pat Peason.  They have been playing outside regularly.  They enthusiastically welcomed me back which made me feel good despite the fact that I didn’t play that well.   Rob and I played together the first set and lost 6 – 3.  Pat and I played together the second set.  It was a long one but we lost 9 – 7.  I was really tired by the time we finished.  That had been 1 ½ hours for me.  I did enjoy it, though.

I got home in time to meet Josh and Freddie.  Josh dropped Freddie off so he could take Betsy to dance.  Freddie and I played tennis for a short while then we went to Clymore Elementary so he could play on the playground there.  Plus, that’s where I was to meet Henry and Gus after their soccer open-field so this worked out well.  With the three boys, I returned to the house so Gus could pick up his Playstation then I took them home.

When I got back, Lynn wanted to walk so we did our standard two mile walk.  I was quite tired when we got back home—I walked well over my 10,000 step goal today.  We had leftover pizza for dinner then I went downstairs and filled in my NCAA mens basketball brackets for the upcoming tournament.  I did this twice—once on the Worthington PickHoops site that Lynn’s brother Bill hosts and again on the WHSV TV-3 site.  When you fill in brackets, there are basically two choices:  use your head or use your heart.  I went for the latter and picked seven of the eight quarterfinalists to be from the Big 12 Conference.  And, of course, I have WVU winning it all.  They never have but maybe this will be the first time.  Actually I know I’m just donating $5 to the Worthington pool.

This morning I called Ann because John Bauman told me yesterday that he had changed his internet provider to the Elon Musk satellite system known as Starlink.  I knew that Ann had been waiting for months for this to be offered so once I knew John was on it I let Ann know.  She immediately signed up for it.  I guess it will be a few days before she receives her equipment but it will be interesting to see if it works OK for them.  They have DISH network and it works fine and this is the same idea so maybe it will finally give them a way to get a good interenet connection.  I hope so!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 17             Infected                   Died

World             121,787,983           2,691,485

US                     30,291,308              550,552

Virginia                598,468                10,154

Augusta County       5,297                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,810,928  (1,036,399 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,884  (13,335 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Strangely, Augusta County’s death total decreased by one.  Perhaps there was a previous data entry error.  And although there were only three new cases in the county, an all time record for hospitalizations was set at 150.  It seems to me that those hospitalized are not making anywhere near a rapid recovery.

March 18, 2021

Today was rainy and cold all day so there was no tennis playing or walking.  Tomorrow is supposed to be drier but even colder with a stiff wind so I may not get in any exercise then, either.  I’m really starting to doubt that I can get in shape for a 150 mile bicycle ride by early May.

I joined John Bauman, Pastor Won, and Bill Bushman at Central this morning to get the giant refrigerator in to the Food Pantry room where it was scheduled to go.  It wasn’t easy.  First we had to jack it up and remove its wheels.  We also removed the door from the Food Pantry Room.  Then we gently slid it through the door, a very tight fit.  Once in the room, we had to reinstall the room door and its wheels, then install its shelves.  But after about two hours it was up and running and the room was clean.  After that I spent around an hour doing CUMC treasurer’s work.

In the meantime, Lynn went to Harrisonburg to test a student.  She didn’t come home afterwards because she had an interpreting session scheduled at Lacey Spring Elementary School at 3:15. I guess she made a few dollars today testing and interpreting.

I was here when Freddie’s bus came.  Betsy also got off and stayed with me until Ann got here.  I fixed hot chocolate for them and we played Wii until she came.   About the same time she got here, Lynn also got back home.

Some good news is that vaccinations, nationwide, are ahead of schedule.  NBC news reported that President Joe Biden said he was poised to meet his goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 vaccination shots in his first 100 days on Friday, more than 40 days ahead of schedule.  “I am proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into my administration, we will have met our goal,” Biden said Thursday afternoon in a speech at the White House.   But cases are rising now again in 15 states.  Doctors like Dr. Fauci warn that opening up too soon, letting our guard down especially with spring break coming up, could cause a 4th wave of COVID-19. 

The good news is that CNN says if Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the mass vaccination of our most vulnerable are likely to limit increases in hospitalizations and deaths. People age 65 and older make up more than 80% of all Covid-19 deaths, according to Centers for Disease Control and Preventation data. Yet 66% of people 65 and older have had at least one vaccine dose and about 39% are fully vaccinated, which sharply cuts down on the risk of hospitalization and death.

The CDC is expected to change its recommendations for schools tomorrow making the social distance three feet instead of six feet for students wearing masks.  This will be just in time for Augusta County which plans to have students return four days per week on April 15.

After a long day at work, Lynn’s back was painful for her tonight.  She had to lie down soon after dinner.  She had physical therapy yesterday plus we walked afterwards so maybe she was exhausted.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 18             Infected                   Died

World             122,320,822           2,701,390

US                     30,353,507              552,146

Virginia                600,550                10,182

Augusta County       5,306                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,870,901  (1,053,711 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        32,155  (13,702 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The number of hospitalizations in Augusta County remains at 150. 

March 19, 2021

Lynn worked giving tests at Turner Ashby High School this morning.  I had nothing important to do so I went to the Staunton YMCA and walked.  It was the first time in a year that I had been in the Y despite keeping my membership each month.  It was too cold to walk outside so all I did was to walk around the short track there for an hour.  It was boring but the environment was pleasant.

I am somewhat out of place at a place like the Y.  I am certainly not a body-builder and there were lots of them there.  They weren’t walking like I was but I passed by all of the gym machines as I walked.  I have never and will never have a sculpted body.

After Lynn came home at lunchtime we ran a bunch of errands in Harrisonburg before returning home in time to watch the second half of the VA Tech – Florida basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  In my brackets I had picked the higher rated Florida to win though I greatly preferred for the Hokies to prevail.  They led 33 – 27 at the half.  With less than ten minutes to go they held on to a 48 – 44 lead.  They had been ahead practically the whole game.  But with four minutes to go Florida went on a 7 point run and took a 56 – 52 lead.   The Hokies went on a four minute drought with no field goals and fell behind 59  – 53.  With one minute to go they were down 62 – 57.  With seven seconds to go and the score 64 – 61 Tech missed a 3-point chance to tie the game.  Florida had two shots to seal the game but missed both.  Tech rebounded and hit a three pointer to send the game to overtime.  Unfortunately, Florida held on in overtime and hit a three pointer with 23 seconds to go making the score 74 – 70.  They missed again and had to foul.  The final score was 75 – 70.

Between games Lynn had another Physical Therapy session at Synergy in Verona.  While she did that I went to the Staunton library for her then went to Krogers to get some groceries.  After we returned home we got our standard Friday night dinner—hamburgers from the Old School food truck.  We also picked up some for Bonnie and Ron Ball and delivered them to their house.

Tonight I watched two different sports at once.  On my iPad I watched the Fort Defiance – Stuarts Draft high school football game.  It wasn’t much of a game as once again Fort was awful.  The final score was 35 – 0.  At the same time I watched more of the NCAA tournament, seeing Georgia Tech lose to Chicago Loyola and the Oklahoma State – Liberty game.  I’ve already lost a few games in my bracket so I needed Oklahoma State to come through.  They did not play well and fell behind in the first half.  In the second half they played a little better and Liberty seemed to get worn down.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 19             Infected                   Died

World             122,866,399           2,712,435

US                     30,423,093              553,917

Virginia                602,182                10,092

Augusta County       5,314                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,940,103  (1,075,770 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        32,673  (14,048 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Those who maintain Virginia’s statistics must be doing some corrections because the number of deaths in Virginia decreased by 90 overnight and the number of deaths in Augusta County decreased by 3.  Augusta County still has 150 hospitalized.

The WVU – Morehead State game didn’t come on until 9:50 this evening so I’ll write about it tomorrow.  WVU is the kind of team that can beat any team and lose to any team.  Morehead State had won 19 of its last 20 games coming into the game so I was worried even though WVU was a 3 seed and its opponent a 14 seed.

March 20, 2021

The Mountaineers came through late last night.  The game was close for a while but in the second half WVU dominated the Eagles and took a 84 – 76 win.  They were ahead for most of the game but Morehead State wouldn’t go away.  It was a good win for the Mounties, coach Bob Huggins’ 900th win.   They now play Syracuse tomorrow afternoon.

Today started out like a typical Saturday.  We left fairly early to pick up groceries for Elizabeth’s family then took them out to her.  Lynn had invited her Cheryl friends over around noon.  I had my usual Saturday morning trash run to do plus I wanted to swap the current locations of my lawnmower (shed) and Jim’s snowblowers (garage) because we’re getting new garage doors this Wednesday and I wanted to start cleaning out our garage some.

We then got a great phone call.  I had previously made a deal with Jim that I would buy him a new special drill for drilling in brick/concrete if he would install a bird feeder on our brick back porch.  He said he could pick up the drill today and come and do the job.  Best of all, he said he would be bringing Coen and Faron with him.

We have seen all of our grandchildren during the pandemic but none so rarely as Faron and Coen.  In fact, they had not been to our house since Thanksgiving of 2019.  So it had been 16 months since they had come here.  Their mother has been extremely protective of them but agreed that Jim could bring them here today if they stayed outside the whole time.

They got here around 12:45 and stayed for four hours.  It was four great hours for Lynn and me.  The boys played on our playset.  They swung in the Pergola.  They rode their bikes and scooters on our tennis court which Jim had brought with him.  They rode our big wheels there.  They played basketball and football.  They ran all over the yard, climbed the big maple tree, and ate their McDonald’s lunch on our back porch.  They played on the seesaw, did the monkey bars, and swung on the playset swings.  I took over 100 pictures.  In the meantime, Jim used his new tool to install two bird feeders for Lynn plus some other tasks.  Before they headed back to Roanoke, we all went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  It was a fantastic afternoon.

The weather was wonderful—sunny and not cold.  It was a marvelous day.

After we got back from Smileys, Lynn and I ordered a calzone from the New York Pizza shop in Mount Sidney.  I copied my 111 new pictures to several locations then settled in to watch some more NCAA basketball including the Virginia – Ohio game.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

March 20             Infected                   Died

World             123,406,872           2,721,077

US                     30,479,306              554,877

Virginia                604,475                10,104

Augusta County       5,323                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,014,056  (1,092,681 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,005  (14,207 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

I heard on the news today that it was exactly one year ago today when Virginia had its first COVID-19 infection.  Wow—since then over 604,000 have gotten it.  It’s good to see that more than 3 million Virginians have at least one vaccine shot.  I wish Kay and Andy could get one.  The rest of the adults in my immediate family have at least one.

March 21, 2021

This was a typical Sunday for us.  It began with Sunday School for me again.  In the meantime, Lynn began working on dinner for the Gutshall family.  They agreed to come over early to watch the WVU – Syracuse basketball game.  They watched downstairs and Lynn and I watched upstairs.

The weather was very nice again so Lynn and I took our standard two mile walk after lunch.  I really need to do more exercise and get in better shape if I’m to do the bicycle ride in early May.

The NCAA basketball tournament has really been interesting so far this year.  There have been many big upsets:  Oral Roberts University over Ohio State, Ohio University over Virginia, and Abilene Christian over Texas.  Today’s big upset included Loyola Chicago over #1 seeded Illinois, 71 – 58.  Unfortunately there was another upset this evening:  Syracuse defeated my beloved Mountaineers.  WVU got behind 14 points a couple of times then came back to even take the lead but the hot-shooting Orangemen took my Mountaineers out of the tournament.  It was very, very, very disappointing.

Ann’s family came over tonight.  Lynn had spent a lot of time today fixing a huge dinner including creamed turkey, rice, lima beans, corn, and rolls.  We watched the first half of the basketball game, ate dinner at halftime, when watched the rest of the game.  After the game I played some tennis outside with Henry, Gus, and Freddie. 

March 21             Infected                   Died

World             123,844,154           2,727,286

US                     30,521,658              555,298

Virginia                604,904                10,117

Augusta County       5,330                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,075,086  (1,114,156 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,215  (14,233 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The number of Augusta County residents hospitalized keeps on rising.  Today it reached another all-time high at 151.  This happened despite the number of those infected has decreased markedly.  I can’t explain it. 

March 22, 2021

Today was a typical Monday.  I spent a couple of hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work which today included counting the offering, making the deposit at the bank and in QuickBooks, paying a bill, setting up the payroll for March 31, and paying two of the benefits (insurance and retirement) that are paid monthly for Pastor Won.  It all went smoothly.

When I came home, Lynn was still at Turner Ashby High School testing students so I decided to spent some time on my bike.  My bike is now mounted on a trainer in our basement.  That way I can peddle and watch tv at the same time.  I’m worried about my legs holding out when we do the 150 mile hike in early May but I’m also quite worried about my butt surviving that long on my bike’s saddle seat.  So I spent 40 minutes peddling and sitting on the seat. 

When Lynn got home we ate lunch then took a walk.  The weather was very nice again with highs around 60. 

Later in the day I did another 20 minutes on the bike so, all in all, I was on it for an hour today.  I need to do this more often because I imagine we’ll be riding up to five hours a day when we ride in Missouri.  To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure I’m going to make that trip because I don’t want to be the one that holds everyone else back just because I’m not in shape.  If I don’t feel like I can do the ride then I’ll drop out before leaving home.

I didn’t get much else done today, unlike Lynn who not only tested students all morning but also did a Zoom interpreting session at another school while she was at Turner Ashby.  Plus, she did barber duties when she got home, cutting my hair.  She does a very nice job.

My only payback was using the new message gun she bought on her back.  It vibrates the soft tissue in her back, relaxing it.  She likes the relief it gives her.  She needs relief, too, as she is still far from recovered from her back injury.

I watched a little NCAA basketball tonight but my interest has greatly fallen off now that the teams I support:  WVU, VA Tech, UVA, and Georgia Tech have all lost in the tournament.  I have about zero chance of winning any of the brackets I turned in.

The news tonight is both good and bad for COVID-19.  The good news is that a fourth vaccine, AstraZeneca, had really good test results among the 30,000+ trials in the US.  Not a single person who took the vaccine had to be hospitalized with coronavirus.  But the interesting part of this development is that the US will likely not need this vaccine because there are already orders placed with the other three (Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson) to cover all Americans.  The bad news regarding COVID-19 is that twenty states, including Virginia, have showed an increase in infections over the past few days.  It’s no wonder that Florida has an increase; there were many videos of spring break parties there involving hundreds of young people with no masks nor social distancing.

We had some very good news today from a travel agent at AAA in Charlottesville.  We had contacted AAA to see what the status was on the $2,400 we had prepaid for our canceled Puerto Rico trip from last year.  We had fears that all or parts of this money would be lost.  Furthermore, we had learned that the travel agent we had worked with to plan this trip prior to the pandemic was no longer working there.  But the lady whom we had contacted got back to us today and reported to us that we had been placed in a deal with the travel company we originally planned the PR trip with that paid us 25% extra.  In other words, instead of losing some of our $2,400 deposit we actually now have a credit for over $2,900 with the company.  There are some strings attached.  First, we must use this credit and travel before December 15 of this year.  But we don’t have to travel to Puerto Rico; we can use the credit where ever this company has ties to airlines and hotels.  She sent us a link for their typical destinations which basically includes every content and most nations.  We made an appointment to meet her next Tuesday morning in Charlottesville to further explore our options.

It is obvious to use that we won’t be taking the Gutshall family to Puerto Rico this year because there is very little likelihood that the children will be vaccinated in 2021.  So we’ll just wait until 2022 and take them then, if that’s what they want.

In the meantime, Lynn somewhat has her eyes set on the Florida Keys.  She has wanted to go there for a long time.  But I don’t think we would need $2,900 to go to the Keys.  We’ll just have to find out from the travel agent what our options are. 

We have one long trip already in the works.  From July 17 – July 26 we will be traveling to Portugal and northern Spain, ending up in Barcelona.  This trip is with a company, Globus.  We originally planned to go with Globus to Brazil and Argentina but changed this to Portugal and Spain when we learned how COVID-19 has been so devasting in South America.  The truth is I don’t think Portugal and Spain will allow incoming visitors as of today but by July we hope this will not be an issue.

Of course, we also have the trip to Maine scheduled for June 30 – July 3 for Vic and Amy’s wedding.  We may be able to squeeze in a trip to Oregon at some time, too.  We just feel like we need to travel while we have the health.  Right now, Oregon recommended a 14 day quarantine for anyone visiting from out of state but hopefully this policy will be changed soon, too.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 22             Infected                   Died

World             124,266,969           2,734,701

US                     30,568,244              555,870

Virginia                605,967                10,127

Augusta County       5,334                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,123,190  (1,133,834 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,602  (14,435 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 151 Augusta County residents hospitalized.  I also found a statistic regarding national vaccines.  In the US, 124 million people (37% of the population) have received at least one dose and 44.1 million are fully vaccinated (13.45% of the population). 

March 23, 2021

All I had on my original schedule for today was tennis at 11:00 and Freddie’s bus arrival at 3:18.  But mid-morning I got a reminder from Savannah at Central UMC that this was the scheduled day for both Central’s Finance and Church Council meetings.  I hustled to Central to gather some data for the Finance meeting which we scheduled at 6:30 PM.  Then I headed to Mary Baldwin’s tennis courts.

It wasn’t hot today; it was overcast with temperatures in the low 50’s.  But it felt good to play tennis outside.  I played better than I did last week.  The other three players were Pastor Won, Marc Kinder, and Rob Cale.  We played three sets, rotating partners each set.  My record was 2 – 1 which was better than my last week’s record which had zero wins.

When I came home, I worked a good bit more getting ready for the Finance Committee meeting.  I always sound like a whiner at those meetings, complaining how our income doesn’t meet our expenses and that we’d really be struggling if we didn’t have our investment accounts to bail us out.

I also spent a lot of time today looking at various options with the travel company Travel Impressions which is the company holding our deposit from last year’s scheduled Puerto Rico trip.  There are lots of options for us to discuss when we meet with the travel agent next Tuesday.

At 6:30 we had the CUMC Finance Committee meeting via Zoom.  It went well and was followed by our monthly Council meeting at 7:00.  Everything was wrapped up by 8:00 and I quickly e-mailed the minutes.  I’m always glad to get that behind me.

Lynn made a delicious dinner tonight with an “oldie but goodie,” hamburger casserole.  It was particularly tasty, perhaps because it had been a while since she had fixed it.  Lynn is a really good cook but lately I’ve tried to keep her from cooking too often during the week because her back needs to be resting.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 23             Infected                   Died

World             124,775,908           2,745,146

US                     30,633,757              556,799

Virginia                607,234                10,137

Augusta County       5,342                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,149,148  (1,142,467 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        34,017  (14,758 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

A handful of states, including West Virginia, now offer vaccines to anyone 16 and over.  Virginia is not among them but an article I read today from CNN said that this might change sometime in April.  I hope so; Kay and Andy need a shot.

In the past two weeks there have been two more cases of multiple killings by a gunman with a semi-automatic gun, one in Atlanta and another in Colorado.  When will this stop?  When will our legislators quit bowing down to lobbies like the NRA and pass meaningful gun control legislation?  Why in the world does a person need a gun that can unload 50 shots per second?  I’m much more fearful of being killed by a white man with an AR-15 than by an attack from a Black Lives Matter advocate or illegal immigrant.  And I believe I’m much more at risk at Walmart or Krogers when I’m among people who pack than I am at home with no gun in the house.

March 24, 2021

The big item on the agenda today is that the Overhead Door crew came to install our new garage doors.  I had ordered the doors from Overhead Door because I had worked for years with Lowell Fulk who was employed there.  Lowell has been on the Rockingham County School Board for decades and I had many contacts with him when I worked for the school system.  Plus, he is an ardent Democrat, living in a heavily Republican county, so he and I are philosophically in sync.  Wouldn’t you know that one week after I called him to get our doors replaced when the huge spring on one of the doors snapped, he announced his retirement.  Nonetheless, he got everything ordered for us and it showed up this morning.

I spent quite a bit of time shuffling things around in the garage and cleaning up before they came so there would be plenty of room for them to do the installation.  Our garage is so full of junk that this wasn’t easy.  Well, all of it isn’t junk as much of it came from Lynn’s parents’ home after they died, but nonetheless the room can’t really be called a garage because no cars fit in it.

The new doors are lighter than the 50-year old wooden doors they replaced.  According to the advertisement on the Overhead Door website, “Thermacore® insulated steel doors are the ideal choice for premium construction and maximum thermal efficiency. This series of doors feature our sandwich construction of steel-polyurethane-steel as well as between-section seals with thermal breaks to reduce air infiltration.”

All of the old hardware was removed so everything that went in its place is new.  Hopefully this will mean that we won’t have any trouble with the new ones; the old doors were a semi-regular source of headache even before the spring broke.

After the first couple of hours, I am very pleased with our new garage doors.  We also got the keypad for outside access and three remotes for our three vehicles.  The new doors are much smother and quieter than the old ones.  I hope they last 50+ years like their predecessors.  The men who installed the new doors knew what they were doing, ran into no particular obstacles, and did a good job, as far as I can tell.

In the meantime, the Toyota car salesman that we’ve been working with, Richard Harlow, sent Lynn a spec sheet about a Venza that will be arriving at McDonough Toyota before the end of this month.  It appears to be exactly what she wants so this afternoon I went there and left him a deposit.  When it comes, we’ll see if it, indeed, is what she wants and if so we’ll buy it.  Between the garage doors and the car we spent some money today!

Lynn had Physical Therapy for her back today so I dropped her off, went to McDonough Toyota to leave our deposit on the Venza, went to Aldi’s to buy a couple of items, then returned to Synergy Rehab to pick her up after her PT. 

After dinner, we took advantage of the sunny weather with temperatures in the 60’s and took a walk on our normal two mile trail.

Here are my daily COVID-19 statistics:

March 24             Infected                   Died

World             125,202,291           2,752,100

US                     30,691,230              557,905

Virginia                608,704                10,143

Augusta County       5,358                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,226,713  (1,167,307 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        34,928  (15,457 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

March 25, 2021

Lynn had morning work at Turner Ashby High School again so I decided to get in some more seat time on my bike.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to leave the basement to do this since my bike is currently mounted on Jim’s trainer.  I pedaled for an hour while watching CNN.  This may sound like a lot but when we do our May bike hike on the Katy Trail I could be in the saddle for 5 – 6 hours a day.  I know I’m not ready for that yet.  I hope to get a chance for a real bike ride sometime soon.

Lynn and I even discussed taking a trip to Pennsylvania for a few days after Easter.  If we do, we may take our bikes and ride on a rail trail near Altoona.  I found a few possibilities online today.  I guess it will mainly depend on the weather.

It is looking more and more like we’ll be having an Easter egg hunt here on the Saturday before Easter, April 3.  Kay let us know that she and her family will be in Charlottesville that weekend and could come over.  Today I got all of the Easter stuff down from the storage over the garage.

I spent a little time cleaning the garage some more today, too.  When Freddie and Betsy came here after their school, I showed them how to use the new keypad to open either door.  The new doors are SO much safer than the old ones were.  I frequently discouraged the grandchildren from going outside through the garage doors before we got the new ones just because I was afraid of the huge springs breaking.  One did break, and that’s what precipitated getting our new doors.  The new doors have a different kind of spring which appears to be much safer.

After Lynn’s work this morning, she and I made a trip to Harrisonburg with several stops.  First we went to the Rockingham County School Board office to return some testing materials she had.  I helped her carry them in and, while there, I chatted with Kim Garber and Stephanie Failes.  I hadn’t talked with either of them in months; it was good to see them again. 

Other stops for us included Krispy Kreme where we verified that, indeed, you do get a free donut if you show proof of your vaccination!  Then we went to Costco where we bought a new set of pots and pans for the kitchen.  Ours were old and worn.

Tonight, after dinner at home, we went to Smiley’s for dessert.  I never get tired of eating that ice cream!

When we got home, we decided to take advantage of the NFHS network and watch the Fort Defiance – Staunton girls volleyball match.  It was a good one.  FDHS started slowly and got behind quickly.  They came all the way back to 24 – 23 but lost the next point and first game, 25 – 23.  But the second game was a completely different story.  Fort dominated it, 25 – 11.  They continued their roll into the third game, going ahead 7 – 1.  Lynn and I have watched a lot of volleyball over the years and one thing that is certain is that momentum is important.  It seems like when one team grabs the momentum they are invincible.  Tonight there were lots of long and contested points.  Staunton grabbed the momentum back for a while in the third game and came back to 11 – 7 then went on another run to take the lead 13 – 12.   Then the lead switched hands several times.  But the last team to go on a roll was FDHS and they won, 25 – 20.  Staunton looked winded in the fourth game.  Fort jumped out to a 16 – 7 lead.  Staunton made a run after Fort’s lead grew to 20 – 12 but FDHS answered to up the score to 22 – 16.  With the score 22 – 18, FDHS closed the match with the last three points.  It was good volleyball to watch.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 25             Infected                   Died

World             126,033,104           2,766,304

US                     30,769,035              559,611

Virginia                610,263                10,147

Augusta County       5,367                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,282,767  (1,183,917 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,188  (15,496 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

March 26, 2021

Today was an easy but productive Friday.  Lynn had Physical Therapy plus three different short Zoom interpreting sessions today.  I had only one thing on the agenda at Central in the afternoon.

I got in a little exercise today.  First I rode on the bike (on the trainer) for a while.  Then Lynn and I did our two mile walk.  I still need to exercise lots more to get in shape for the May bike trip.

I spent a good bit of time this morning making plans for a trip Lynn and I want to take after Easter.  We decided to combine a trip to see my sister with a trip I had suggested to her at Christmas.  We’re going to leave home on Thursday, April 8 and return on Saturday, April 10.  On this trip, we’ll not only see Mary K. but will also ride our bikes on two trails and visit five ice cream creameries.  I had scoped out all of the creameries in the Pennsylvania-Maryland-Virginia area back in December knowing how much Lynn likes ice cream.  This morning I firmed up the plans which have us driving first to a creamery near Chambersburg PA on the 8th, then on to my sister’s house in Altoona.  We’ll stay at the Comfort Suites not far from her house.  The next day we’ll drive to Frederick, MD, stopping at a creamery near there for lunch.  Then we’ll ride bikes on a trail near town, followed by dinner and dessert at anoter creamery.  On Saturday morning, we’ll first drive to the C & O Canal bike path which is nearby and ride our bikes again.  Then we’ll visit a creamery near there then head home, stopping halfway at our last creamery.  This should be a fine trip!  By the time the day was done, I had confirmed with my sister that the date was OK and made our hotel reservations for the two nights we’ll be away.

This afternoon I did my errands at Central.  First, I did my treasurer’s duty of paying the bills that had accumulated this week.  Then I went to the sanctuary and recorded a reading for this Sunday’s recorded service.  Then I picked up a bunch of food for Elizabeth’s family which we’ll take to her tomorrow morning.  It was a very successful trip to CUMC for me.

This evening we had two friends over for dinner, Cheryl and Bogie Wright.  Actually, we all got hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike and brought them back to our patio to eat.   Today was Cheryl’s birthday so after we ate our burgers we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Smiley’s was busier than I have ever seen the place—there was a line of over twenty people waiting to order.  But the line went fast and soon I was enjoying a cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.  All four of us got the same flavor.  We took our folding chairs and chatted in the parking lot with our cones.

When I got home I decided to watch a little of the Fort Defiance – Wilson Memorial football game on the NFHS network.  I missed most of the first half.  Fort struggled again in this game; the score was 14 – 0 at half.  Soon it was 21 – 0.  Fort’s losses have been 49 – 6 to Riverheads and 35 – 0 to Stuarts Draft the past two weeks.  They also lost 15 – 0  to Rockbridge the first week the played.  So how in the world did they defeat Staunton 39 – 10 the second game of the season?  Their offense is so bad I am amazed they scored 39 points in one game. In tonight’s game, Fort did manage to score late in the 4th quarter to make the final score 21 – 8.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 26             Infected                   Died

World             126,673,096           2,778,770

US                     30,848,263              561,070

Virginia                612,062                10,154

Augusta County       5,373                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,357,008  (1,209,895 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,682  (15,589 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

At least the number of Augusta County residents who have died or are hospitalized hasn’t changed in the last several days. 

March 27, 2021

This was a typical Saturday, especially in the morning.  We took the food from Central to Elizabeth’s family mid-morning.  She was very appreciative, as always.

After that, I loaded up my truck with our trash, picked up the Gutshall’s, then took it all to the dumpster in Mount Sidney.  The weather was nice so this was a pleasant chore.

In the meantime, Lynn had gone to Staunton to see her Aunt Jo Lee who is at The Legacy.  Visitors are now allowed in again so she had her first visit in ages there.  Then she got some groceries and came home. 

After lunch, we decided to take a longer walk than we’ve been taking.  The pleasant weather helped so we did the Leaport Loop.  I looked back through my notes and believe thte last time we did this was July 1, 2020.  Of course, she broke her foot in July so our long walks had ceased.  I felt surprisingly good when we got back home after the 3.7 mile hike.  I expected to be much more tired but I felt fine.

One of the reasons that I thought I’d be tired is that I spent an hour today on my bike (in the trainer) while Lynn was in Staunton.  So my legs have gotten much more of a workout today which they need.  The disappointing thing about riding the bike on the trainer is that the iPhone health app doesn’t pick up the leg movements as steps.  So when I got off the trainer it said I had only 2,000 steps.  When we got back from the Leaport Loop I was well over 10,000 steps.

For dinner tonight, Lynn fixed waffles.  We hadn’t eaten waffles in months, maybe even years.  They were delicious. 

We heard today that Andy got an appointment for his first vaccination shot.  Kay doesn’t have one scheduled yet.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 27             Infected                   Died

World             127,223,738           2,788,068

US                     30,911,667              561,966

Virginia                613,974                10,178

Augusta County       5,379                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,403,097  (1,222,047 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,728  (15,610 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County’s deaths remained at 66 and hospitalizations at 151. 

We’re in the process of planning several trips for later this year.  Some that we are considering are:

  • Driving trip April 8 – 10 as I described yesterday.  This one appears to be definite now.
  • Possible trip to Florida Keys in late May.  We’ll know more when we meet with the AAA travel agent this coming Tuesday.
  • Trip to Maine June 30 – July 3 for Vic and Amy’s wedding.  This one is definite.  This will be a driving trip.
  • Portugal – Spain July 17 – 28.  This one is with Globus Tours.  We’ve paid our deposit and think this one is definite.
  • Oregon perhaps August 31 – September 8.  We’re coordinating this with Hal and Diane whose son lives in Ashland, OR.

March 28, 2021

Today proved to be a busy Sunday for us.  It started out as most do, with a leisurely breakfast then a 9:00 Sunday School class for me. 

Before lunch, Lynn got a text from Diane and Hal Koerner asking us about Oregon travel plans.  They told us that they would like to meet us there but had to work around a race that their son Hallie was involved in on September 11.  The kind of races that Hal Koerner III runs in are ultramarathons, sometimes over 100 miles long. 

After lunch we called them and made some tentative plans for a long Oregon vacation in September.  We’ll likely meet them in Portland on September 1, visit places around there for several days, then they’ll head four hours south to Ashland where their son lives.  We’ll spend the better part of a week sightseeing around Oregon on our way to Ashland and will arrive around September 10 so we can see the race.  We’ll head back to Portland on September 13 and fly home on the 14th.  At least that’s our tentative plans.

The weather was OK today though very windy and rainy at times.  We did manage to find time to take our two mile walk.

We had to get back in time to fix dinner for the Gutshalls.  We (mostly Lynn) fixed a big dinner including a ham, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, hard boiled eggs, asparagus, and a chocolate cake for dessert.  It was a fine dinner.  Ann and Josh took home lots of leftovers which is just what we intended.

I also watched some of the NCAA basketball tournament today but, like yesterday, I wasn’t too invested in it because none of the teams left are favorites of mine.  For the most part, even the ones which were left that I favored lost so this was not a good tournament for my favorites, for sure.

I also worked some math problems with Henry tonight but we mostly did them during basketball games.  His problems aren’t due until Thursday so I guess if he has any questions I have plenty of time to help him.

March 28             Infected                   Died

World             127,762,982           2,795,893

US                     30,962,803              562,526

Virginia                615,366                10,198

Augusta County       5,380                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,505,656  (1,253,021 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        36,999  (16,211 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

The good news is that Augusta County had only one new case in the past 24 hours and no new deaths nor hospitalizations.  The number hospitalized remains at 151, though.

March 29, 2021

We awoke this morning with a concerning text from Jim.  He said that he was at the hospital with a terrible pain in his groin.  He asked if we could come and pick him up.  So quickly, of course, we got up and ate breakfast.  Lynn had several items on her agenda for today and I only had one so I went by myself to Roanoke, leaving around 7:00 AM.

Lynn and I talked over the phone and thought that this must be a kidney stone.  Sure enough, he texted us that, indeed, this was the diagnosis.  He said undergone an ultrasound and was awaiting a CT scan to make sure there was no infection.  If there was no infection, it would be treated with typical drugs.  By the time I got to Roanoke, he had texted that there was no infection but he definitely did have a stone.

I got to the parking lot at Lewis Gale Hospital just as he was coming outside.  He had been given some medicine and several prescriptions were called in.  He told me that Morgan had taken him there at 4:00 AM.  He hadn’t had anything to eat or drink so our first stop was at a Mill Mountain Coffee Shop for him to grab a pastry and some coffee.  I like their coffee so I bought a pound of it, too. 

We then drove to a CVS where his prescriptions had been called in.  He was given three different prescriptions.  We picked them up then headed to his house.  By this time he wasn’t in any pain but I’m sure he was dead tired.  His cross country team had an away meet today so he had already made plans for a half-day substitute and had called her earlier in the morning and changed it to a full day.  He was still bent on going to the meet.

I left Roanoke coming back home shortly after 11:00.  During my trip down there I had made arrangements with Sam Richardson to do Central’s weekly deposit tomorrow instead of today so my calendar was clear.  I got back home near 1:00 just as Lynn left to walk with her friend Ginny Bauman. 

Lynn had Physical Therapy today at 3:30 so I took her then went in to S & W Appliance to pick up a filter for our refrigerator.  Our icemaker had slowed making ice to a crawl so I thought this would be the fix it needed.  We were supposed to replace this filter every six months but we hadn’t done so.  The new filter seemed to fix the problem.

After dinner tonight I hopped on my bike and peddled for an hour.  It was the only exercise I got today but better than nothing.

This evening we called Jim to see how he felt.  He said he was OK and had gone to the cross country meet.  He said he was told it might take a week or two for him to pass the kidney stone.

On the news tonight it was reported that over 93,000,000 Americans, 37% of the population, had gotten at least their first vaccination shot so far.  And, the report said that even one shot provides a person with 80% immunity.  Yet the head of the CDC warned of a 4th wave as people let their guards down.  Supposedly in several states infections and deaths are on the rise again.

Here are today’s statistics:

March 29             Infected                   Died

World             128,202,664           2,803,562

US                     31,028,530              563,183

Virginia                616,509                10,219

Augusta County       5,388                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,590,553  (1,278,643 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        37,259  (16,418 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Today there was a new record set for the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County, 152.

I wrote this post on my downstairs iMac because I left my MacBook Pro with Jim today.  I had taken it with me in case I had spare time waiting on him which I didn’t.  But once he got in the car I realized that he needed it to do his TurboTax return for 2020.  I’ll get it back from him later this week sometime.

March 30, 2021

We had a very good visit today with Mana Welsh, AAA Travel Consultant in Charlottesville.  We found out that we can apply the credit we have for the canceled Puerto Rico trip to our Oregon vacation scheduled in September.  She helped us look at various options involving flights, hotels in Portland, and rental cars.  Of course, our trip to Oregon for two weeks will cost lots more than what we deposited on the Puerto Rico trip but at least we can pay for the flights, hotel stays in Portland, and rental car with these funds.

Tonight we called Hal and Diane and firmed up lots more of the plans for this trip.  We are now going to fly from Reagan to Portland on September 1.  They are going to meet us in Portland that day.  We will stay in Portland for three nights.  On Thursday, September 2 we will go eastward to see Mount Hood, Multanomah Falls, etc.  On Friday, September 3 we will go northward in the Columbia River valley, perhaps all the way to the coast in Astoria.  On Saturday, September 4 we will travel west to see Tillamook and the Pacific Coast.  On Sunday, September 5 we will travel south along the coast and stay there.  On Monday, September 6 we will go sightseeing at the Trail of Ten Falls and stay in Lebanon OR.  On Tuesday, September 7 we will drive to Smith Rock State Park and stay in Bend OR.  On Wednesday, September 8 we will drive to Crater Lake and stay in a cabin there for two nights.  On Friday, September 10 we will meet back up with the Koerners at the location of the ultramarathon they are going to be working at along with their son, Hal III, in Grants Pass.  We’ll stay in Ashland, visiting with Hal and Diane and watching the race for the next two days.  On Monday, September 13 we will return to Portland.  We fly to Reagan Airport on Tuesday, September 14.

Because we were able to use the funds for this trip, we now are going to postpone our plans to visit the Florida keys this year; we’ll do it some other time.  We’re also likely going to postpone our plans to take the Globus tour from Lisbon to Barcelona originally scheduled for July 17 – 28 until 2022.  We’ve got until June 1 to make that decision.  Right now it seems very unlikely that Globus will even be doing this trip.  Indeed, if they postpone it we’ll not lose any of our deposit and will simply transfer this to a 2022 trip.  We’ll be making this decision at the end of May.

Besides all of this thinking and planning about us today, our hearts have been out to our children today.  Jim told us he has been feeling OK but knowing what a bad day he had yesterday we still worry for him and hopes he gets rid of the kidney stone soon.  Ann and her family have been somewhat devastated today, too, as they found out that the house they had wanted and placed an offer on not far from our house was sold to another buyer who made a cash offer for $12,000 more than the asking price.  Ann and Josh were willing to offer more than the asking price, too, but I guess that the house was being sold by a trust company since the owners had both passed away and they had no children.  I know there will be other houses for them to consider but this one was particularly appealing to Ann.  She had her eyes on it long before it hit the market last week.

Today’s real estate market is such a seller’s market.  Houses sell for more than their asking price which is already ridiculously high, in my opinion.  They stay on the market for just a couple of days.  Ann and Josh have spent a year now looking and haven’t been successful yet.  I hope things work out for them in the near future.

I didn’t get any exercise in today.  I did take Betsy and Freddie bike riding at Clymore Elementary and Stewart Middle School this afternoon when their bus got here but I didn’t take my bike because it was on the trainer.  Lynn had a couple of interpreting sessions via Zoom today to occupy her time.  I also spent two hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 30             Infected                   Died

World             128,777,244           2,814,831

US                     31,096,479              564,133

Virginia                617,941                10,242

Augusta County       5,391                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,700,610  (1,320,424 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        37,474  (16,478 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Not only were there two more deaths in Augusta County in the past 24 hours but the number of hospitalizations increased to 152 which is an all-time record.  COVID-19 isn’t going away in this section of the world.

March 31, 2021

Today had several significant events occur for us.  Perhaps the biggest was that Lynn’s new car came in and we picked it up this afternoon.  The Venza is an impressive vehicle.  It has a 12.4 inch screen for navigation and other features.  I actually drove it home from the dealer because she had to run to a Physical Therapy session.  I pushed the “Talk” button and said “Navigate to 296 Leaport Road, Mount Sidney Virginia” and it immediately not only routed me home but talked me through each turn on the way.  It was easy to figure out how to use the cruise control, mirror adjustments, seat adjustments, etc.  The car was expensive but hopefully will last her for a long time. 

The other significant event was getting our Oregon plans cemented.  Our AAA travel agent was johnny-on-the-spot this morning and soon we had our airplane tickets booked, seats selected, hotels booked in Portland for both the first three night when we arrive on September 1 but also the night before we leave on September 13, and our car rental.  We’ll manage the reservations for the other nights along with the Koerners.  In fact, I’ve got most of them done already including two nights at a cabin at Crater Lake.  Best of all, we had over $500 leftover for other travels.

That being the case, I started looking in earnest at our trip to Kennebunkport for Vic and Amy’s wedding the first week of July.  I decided that we should try to make it a nice trip for the Gutshall children (and for the other grandchildren if they come) by planning for the first night at Eden Resort in Lancaster where we’ve always stayed and the kids love and the second night at a hotel in Springfield, Massachusetts near the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.  The AAA agent gave me several hotel choices there that we can use with our leftover credits.  The third day of the trip we’d first visit in the Hall of Fame then drive on to Kennebunkport.

I spent almost the entire morning corresponding with Mana Welsh, the travel agent, plus looking at our options for the New England trip.  It’s nice to know our Oregon trip is set up just the way we wanted it and we’ve got ideas for the Maine trip.  Before we can confirm the Maine trip plans we need to know if Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia will be joining us as well as Jim.  I know Jim’s boys won’t be.

While Lynn was getting her Physical Therapy this afternoon I made a pizza run to Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  Their Soprano pizza is so good!

I made a change tonight in our plans for the get-away we scheduled for next Thursday – Saturday.  Butch said he could be in Altoona on Friday night but I had us there on Thursday.  So I simply reversed the direction that Lynn and I will go on our three day loop and now we’ll be in Altoona on Friday night when Butch is there.

Tonight Pfizer said its vaccine is 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 12 – 16.  That’s good news.

Despite this and other good news regarding vaccines, coronavirus cases are on the rise in half of the states in America.  Apparently there’s way too much lack of social distancing and mask wearing among those who aren’t vaccinated. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 31             Infected                   Died

World             129,422,841           2,826,554

US                     31,158,560              565,066

Virginia                618,976                10,252

Augusta County       5,398                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,773,586  (1,346,564 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        38,266  (16,957 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I’m pleased to find out that Augusta County is even ahead of Rockingham County in the number of vaccinations given.  But the number of hospitalized remains at 152.

February 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

February 1, 2021

With the snowy roads most everything was canceled today—schools, church counting, Lynn’s Zoom interpreting, etc.  Actually our roads look very passable though we haven’t gone out since Saturday.  It has now been over two days since I left our property.

With little to do today I spent some time back on the ancestry pages.  I was able to trace a route from me to Turold De Grenteville.  If you haven’t heard of my relative Turold, it may be because he was born in Normandy in 1026 and died in Dorset, England in 1071.  If the websites I found are accurate, indeed I was able to trace back 32 generations.  I recorded the names, years of life, spouses, years of their lives, and web addresses to the records of each ancestor.  Of course, I’m not really doing the genealogy work but simply using the work of many, many others who have graciously posted their findings in publicly available websites.

My grandmother was Frankie Lee Penland Cook.  She lived until she was 90 though she suffered from delusions and loss of memory in her final years.  At one point before she died, she told my adopted aunt Zella a story that her husband, Joseph Sans Cook, was not the father of my mother.  She told Zella she had become pregnant by another man but ended up marrying Joe Cook.  I never did believe that this was true, especially given that she would tell other wild stories from her imagination during her old age.  She would frequently see other people in the room or hear them talking to her.  Today, in my online legacy work, I saw a reference that she and Joe Cook were married October 27, 1913.  My mother was born August 20, 2014, ten months later.  I was able to find in public records both my mother’s birth certificate and my grandparents’ marriage license so I know these dates are correct.  Thus, the story she told Zella could not have been true.  My initial reason for not believing that story was that my mother and her sister Mary always looked like twins, but today’s research cemented my belief that, indeed, Joseph Sans Cook was my grandfather.  He was a GREAT grandfather who took me (and the other grandchildren) to baseball games, took me to drive-in movies, played baseball with me, took me for rides on his farm tractor, and would pick me up on his way home from working in the mines so I could stay with them in Falls Mills, VA.  It was a very sad day for me when he died when I was 10 years old.

I did get a haircut today without going to a barber shop.  Lynn and I had been borrowing the Gutshall’s hair clipping set but a few months ago we bought our own at Costco so today she put them to good use.  I really do think she does a fine job cutting my hair and don’t know that I’ll ever go back to a barber shop again.

Jim called us today and told how he’d made a bunch of money using a snow blower to clean off driveways in his neighborhood and elsewhere in Roanoke.  Good for him!

In the news tonight was a story about an at-home COVID-19 test anyone can do which returns results in 15 minutes which are 95% accurate.  I hope this is true but I also hope that, thanks to the vaccine, I’ll never need this.

This doesn’t make sense—an ABC news story said that the CDC looked at more than 11,000 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities that had at least one vaccination clinic between the middle of December and the middle of January. The researchers found that while 78% of residents got at least one shot, only 37.5% of staff members did.  The staff members were basically saying they didn’t think the vaccines worked.  What this means is that they will continue to bring in COVID-19 to the most dangerous of climates in the US—nursing homes.  I can’t believe this.  And I wonder why there were 22% of the residents who refused it. 

The messages about the pandemic are mixed.  The President of Moderna said he believed the US could achieve herd immunity by summer.  Yet other people are saying that the worst is yet to come given that the virus is mutating so much and some of the mutations may be resistant to vaccines.  January was the most deadly month since the pandemic started yet the number of hospitalizations and cases have dropped pretty sharply at the end of this month.  But the month had more than 6 million new cases; one in twelve Americans has now had it.

Here are today’s statistics:

February 1          Infected                   Died

World             103,909,445           2,246,841

US                     26,902,109              454,103

Virginia               507,640                  6,474

Augusta County       4,773                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               843,230  (124,407 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,033  (779 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 2, 2021

We had a very busy but productive morning.  Our first stop was at Costco where we got several needed items.  The store was almost empty so I believe it was very safe.  Then we went to Michael’s where Lynn had ordered an item yesterday that we picked up curbside.  She then picked up one quick item at Dollar Tree and we headed to Cub Run Elementary with a stop at the Penn Laird Post Office for her to buy stamps.  The reason for going to Cub Run was for Lynn to pick up her recertification materials which Principal Kenny Boyers had signed off on.  We then took the recertification application to the Rockingham County Schools’ Administrative Office so Lynn could fulfill her obligations in order to be able to continue teaching part-time.  Actually, this recertification is for ten more years; I doubt she will work all ten of them.  Alas, my teacher certification expired in 2020 and I made no attempt to renew it.

Waiting on Lynn and sitting in the parking lot at the RCPS Admin Office brought back some memories for me.  I helped design that building and worked in it for almost fifteen years.  My first several years as an administrator in RCPS were in the old building in downtown Harrisonburg.  But I remember well how we designed that new office, saw it being built, then moved there around 2000.  It was a great place to work, not only for the building itself, but especially because of the people who worked there with me.  My staff increased from about 6 to 26 while working there.

Lynn’s two Cheryl friends came out this afternoon to chat on the back porch.  The temperature was around 32o but there was a wind so the feels-like temperature was around 21o.  They were brave souls.  The heater we bought for the back porch has been spotty in working but today it was really needed.  Lynn said that it worked most of the 90 minutes they were out there.

Today was Gus’ 14th birthday.  Due to the snow, neither Augusta or Rockingham Counties had in-person school today so he was free to come over to our house mid-afternoon to get his present.  I had sent him a set of 16 math problems to do.  The set was quite mixed but required no math beyond Algebra I which he is taking now.  Before he came today, I asked him to text me his solutions so I could check them.  He had done very well with the problem set—had a couple of careless (sign) errors on two problems and one more mistake but he had 13 of the 16 perfect which I was very impressed with.  When he came, I told him that his present was hidden in our garage and he’d find it using a decoder sheet which linked answers to his math problems to letters of the alphabet.  For example, the answer to the first problem was 3 and that corresponded to the letter C on the decoder sheet.  The sixteen answers spelled out CABINET TOP DRAWER.  So in no time he was able to find his card with the money inside it.  He did tell me it took him two hours to do the 16 problems I had sent him but said he didn’t have anything else to do today so that was OK.  For many reasons, including his math skills, I’m proud of Gus.  He’s a very polite, easy-going young man.

Despite school being called off today due to icy roads, the basketball games scheduled for tonight went on as scheduled.  Fort played Stuarts Draft in JV and varsity.  The games were at FDHS so Ann and Josh got to go there to see the games.  Ann confirmed with me that this would be Henry’s last home game so I asked her to take my camera and take some pictures since we weren’t allowed to go.

The news tonight is the same as usual.  At least the daily number of new COVID-19 cases has fallen somewhat.  Here are the statistics:

February 2          Infected                   Died

World             104,337,420           2,261,004

US                     27,007,773              457,264

Virginia               510,380                  6,517

Augusta County       4,792                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               873,468  (130,735 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,208  (824 of whom have 2nd dose)

Elizabeth texted us tonight that her husband Gilbeto finally made it home this evening.  He’d been at the UVA hospital since November 23—around ten weeks.  There was a time Elizabeth was afraid he wouldn’t be coming home alive so it is a real blessing that he made it back today though I’m sure he’s a long way from being back to normal.  It has been a real tough journey for this entire family.  Thankfully they’ve had help from their own family, from their church and community family, and from us. 

The Shenandoah District boys basketball this season has featured six pretty evenly matched teams.  None will win the state championship but on a given night any one could beat the other.  Going into tonight’s game, Fort Defiance was second with a 5 – 3 district record (7 – 3 overall) and Stuart Draft was in sixth place with a 2 – 6 district record (3 – 7 overall).  Wilson Memorial is the district leader with a 6 – 2 record (9 – 2 overall).  It has been amazing that they’ve been able to play a full schedule with the pandemic going on.   Well, a full schedule this year means 13 regular season games since all of the sports seasons were shortened.

The JV team played first, of course.  Though it is great to be able to live-stream the games, it seems so strange to see the stands nearly empty.  I think each home player is allowed two from his family to attend. 

Watching the JV’s is not easy.  Stuarts Draft turned the ball over its first nine possessions.  Fort missed its first ten shots from the field. Fort did manage two foul shots and a field goal and led 4 – 2 after five minutes of play.  Gus got in with two minutes to go in the quarter.  Stuarts Draft finished the quarter with a plethora of turnovers.  The score at the end of the first was FDHS 10, Stuarts Draft 2.  As the second quarter opened, Gus got an offensive rebound and put it back in.  As a reward, I suppose, the coach took him out.  Go figure.  When Gus went out, the score was 12 – 2 in Fort’s favor.  Moments later it was 13 – 12.  The half ended 19 – 18 in favor of Stuarts Draft.   This is how the Fort JV’s have played all season.  On January 15, against this same team, Gus’ JV team was ahead by double digits with four minutes to go in the game when he was taken out; Stuarts Draft scored the next 14 points and won. 

In the second half, Gus sat out the first half of the third quarter and got in with Stuarts Draft leading 24 – 23.  He made a nice put back but the refs ruled he had fouled first so it didn’t count.  He played the rest of the quarter; FDHS was down 30 – 29.  But then the streaming network went out and we missed the entire 4th quarter.  Ann and Josh reported that he played the entire 4th quarter and did well as Fort got revenge with a 44 – 32 win.  She Facetime called us so we could see a little bit though it wasn’t the same as streaming.  This turned out to be a good birthday for Gus!  I’m glad the coach finally figured out to leave him in.

Unfortunately, the streaming didn’t work for the varsity game.  I was so disappointed because it was Henry’s last home game this season.  Ann and Josh tried to help us out, first via Facetime then via Zoom.  The Zoom feed was OK but not as good as the streaming had been.  In the first half, Stuarts Draft couldn’t miss, hitting all kinds of three pointers.  Fort was lucky to stay fairly close, 41 – 33, at the break. 

They got down by twelve but managed to close within four at the end of the third quarter.  As the 4th quarter wore on, Tyreek Veney got hot and Ryan Cook made some good drives.  Soon Fort was up 59 – 58.  With 1:15 to go, Fort led 63 – 60 but then Draft hit a 3 pointer to tie the score at 63.  Fort worked the ball into Henry who scored on a drive with 1.5 seconds to go to give FDHS the win, 65 – 63.  It was a huge bucket!  Henry the Hero!  I love it. 

Thanks to Ann’s Zoom feed, Kay’s family, Jim, Josh’s parents, Lynn, and I got to witness the game.  I’m so glad she was able to do that.  The NFHS feed never did come back so without the Zoom connection we wouldn’t have seen Henry’s heroics.  I believe he had six points for the game including the big basket at the end.

February 3, 2021

The Waynesboro paper had another fine article about the game last night with high praise for sophomores Tyreek and Henry.  “With the clock ticking down in a tight contest and a court full of upperclassmen, it was two sophomores who provided the heroics for Fort Defiance.   Indians’ second-year player Tyreek Veney nailed six 3-pointers, and Henry Gutshall lifted up to bank in the contested game-winning shot with 7.8 seconds left to give Fort a 65-63 win over Stuarts Draft in a game they once trailed by 13 points in Shenandoah District boys basketball.  Sophomore Gutshall has stepped up for Fort all year, and with 7.8 seconds left on the clock, he stepped up again. Gutshall caught the ball and turned around in the face of the defender, putting up a hook shot that found its way off the glass through the bottom of the net to give Fort the 65-63 lead they would not relinquish.”

I had a another pleasant surprise today—the live stream didn’t work but the game was available on demand today from NFHS.  I got to watch Henry score that game-winning basket over and over!  Plus I got to see the 4th quarter of Gus’ JV game, a quarter in which he played the whole time.  Neat..

Since this is the first week of February, I had lots of work to do on Central’s books today.  I was able to get almost everything done but it took me nearly four hours in the morning.  I reconciled the four bank accounts, finalized the two monthly statements for January that are always presented to Church Council, entered the January 31 deposit, and paid several bills.  I got one of the credit card statements reconciled and will do the other one later since Won needs to give me some receipts for them.  It won’t take long.  I felt good about getting so much done.

Lynn braved the cold again to walk with Ginny Bauman.  She put on her long underwear first and wore boots.  I don’t know how she walked two miles in boots.  I recall that when I was a high school basketball player we were required to wear galoshes to run laps after practice sometimes.  It wasn’t easy.  We also had to wear ankle weights all day sometimes in the off-season, supposedly to build up our leg muscles so we could run and jump better.  Obviously this tactic didn’t work for me because running and jumping were two of my worst athletic attributes.

I also got a call today from Steve Johnson of Air Tight Windows and Doors.  He had sent a proposal to us on August 31 which we accepted and paid him a deposit for our upstairs windows to be replaced.  Then we waited and waited.  I e-mailed him in October and he said they were having troubles getting materials.  He asked that we be patient and we were.  Finally he called this morning to say the materials had arrived and he wanted to start replacing our windows tomorrow morning!  I told him to go for it.

Gus had a make-up JV basketball game tonight with Wilson Memorial.  The first half had the same troubles with the streaming service that the varsity game last night had.  It didn’t start working until the end of the half.  Ann helped us out by Zooming from her camera which worked OK but was a lot of trouble for her.  The second half the NFHS stream worked OK.  Gus played almost the entire first half.  I believe he had one point on a foul shot.  At the half, Fort led 19 – 16.  Gus was on the bench to start the second half.  Any bets on what happened?  After four minutes the score was WMHS 22, FDHS 19.  It’s not that Gus is a dominant player, he just doesn’t make the stupid mistakes that the other kids do.  They throw the ball away over and over and over.  He got back in with 3:30 to go in the quarter.  He made a nice spin move and scored with 30 seconds to go—their only score of the quarter.  And though he played throughout the 4th quarter, his team couldn’t score.   Meanwhile, WMHS had several buckets.  With 51 seconds to go in the game Fort finally scored in the 4th quarter—two foul shots.   They made one more free throw and banked a desperation three pointer in to make the final score WMHS 36, FDHS 27.  For the second half, they had a grand total of two field goals, eight points.   Maybe we’ll be able to watch the first half again tomorrow on the NFHS stream.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 3          Infected                   Died

World             104,866,768           2,276,010

US                     27,140,569              461,504

Virginia               513,339                  6,575

Augusta County       4,807                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               895,005  (136,731 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,297  (841 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 15 can’t get here quickly enough!  Some good news we got today is that Ann was able to get her vaccine today at Broadway High School.  She wasn’t originally supposed to get hers today but apparently they had some extras while doing the immunizations there today.  Great!

February 4, 2021

Our morning was interesting as the father-son team from Airtight Windows and Doors arrived shortly after our breakfast to replace our upstairs windows.  With the big snowfall we had last week, this presented some challenges to them as part of the roof still had snow on it.  The side which faces east did not so they began on those windows.  I was surprised at how quickly they were able to extract the old ones and insert the new ones.  The new ones look nice and function much better than the 50+ year old ones they replaced.  Due to the snowy roof, they were only able to get three windows.  They are going to come back next week and do the other four.

Today’s weather was a little better—good enough for Lynn to walk twice.  She walked once with Ginny Bauman then walked with me before dinner.  She got in 11,000 steps today.  I did not but still got to walk two miles.

I had plenty of spare time this afternoon so I decided to turn the genealogy work I had done into web pages and post them on my website.  I ended up putting three routes on my website, all with links to each generation.  The lineage routes were 1) the Hill ancestry back to 1589   2) the ancestral path for 32 generations through the Hill, Dixon, McMillan, Gambrill, Nall, Holloway, Mathews, Greville, Glanville, and Greneteville families all the way back to the year 1026 in France and England.  Included in this path is the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1656 – 1660, Samuel Mathews and 3) an ancestral path through the Hill, Cook, and Goodson families back to 1550 in England.

Tonight Gus had a JV basketball game at Buffalo Gap which we were able to watch on the NFS network.  We watched in our bedroom while the Gutshalls watched downstairs.  The poor JV’s picked up where they left off last night, unable to score in the first four minutes.  Fortunately, Gap was little better and only led 2 – 0 at that point which is when Gus got in.  He played the rest of the quarter but didn’t see action in the second quarter.  Both teams played miserably with Fort squeaking out a 10 – 9 lead at the half.  I didn’t really keep records but I’m betting the shooting percentage for both teams was somewhere around 10%.

Gus got in the last three minutes of the 3rd quarter.  After shooting terribly all game, Gap hit three consecutive three-pointers to take a 25 – 19 lead at the end of the quarter.  Gus got to play a little in the 4th quarter but it was more of the same.   After Gap went out to a ten point lead in the 4th, Fort made a run and got within three but in the end Gap hit their free throws and won 41 – 34.  Tomorrow the JVs will have their fourth game in four days.  Both play Wilson Memorial    away.  Going into that game, the Fort varsity team is in a three way tie for first place in the district.  Fort, Wilson Memorial, and Staunton all have 6 – 3 records.  So the winner of the Fort – Wilson game will be the district champion if Buffalo Gap beats Staunton, also played tomorrow night.  If Staunton beats Buffalo Gap, they will be co-champions with the winner of the Fort-Wilson game.

Today Johnson and Johnson requested Emergency Use Authorization for its vaccine.  It doesn’t have as high of rating for initially keeping people from being infected with COVID-19, around 70% compared to Pfizer and Moderna’s 95%, but it had a 100% rating of keeping people from being hospitalized or dying after taking it.  So this adds more hope; the key is to get more and more people vaccinated so the spread will stop; thus, the mutations will stop.

Here are today’s statistics: 

February 4          Infected                   Died

World             105,380,028           2,292,100

US                     27,258,651              466,504

Virginia               516,398                  6,650

Augusta County       4,813                       49

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               920,641  (145,284 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,767  (974 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 5, 2021

I did more work on my website this morning, adding a link to a detailed genealogy of Lynn’s family which one of her cousins had done.  I think I have an abnormally high sense of providing a legacy for future generations, perhaps because I enjoy my own ancestry so much.  Thus, I loved writing the StoryWorth book from Ann’s 2017 Christmas present and have really liked documenting my life in 50,000+ pictures on Flickr, both of which are available on the website.  Adding the ancestry to it just makes sense, especially since the name of the website is joehillfamily.com.  This blog isn’t written for posterity, though; it is mainly therapy for me to survive in these pandemic times.

Lynn and I have had good discussion lately about our similarity and differences.  Like any couple, there are times that I wish she thought more like I do but then I realize how much my life has been enriched by her thoughts which are so unlike mine.  I told her last night that if I had never met her, I would probably never have gone to Machu Picchu and she would likely not have had a tennis court in her backyard which has proven to be such a nice playground for our grandchildren.  Without her, my children wouldn’t have grown up in the beautiful and safe Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I joked that I would have missed some of the junk TV shows that she watches in the middle of the night such as Young Sheldon and Big Bang Theory.  Lynn and I strongly agree on some very important matters such as the importance of family and good fiscal management.  We have a good division of duties around the house, I believe.  I wish I were as thoughtful of others as she is.  I admire her ability to socialize with others and marvel at her memory of other people’s names, families, and events.  If the definition of an angel is a superb being sent by God to lead someone in the right direction, she certainly qualifies for that title.

I’m a nostalgic person; Lynn is not.  I am part of a group on Facebook called All of Us West Virginians which now has almost 200,000 members.  Members of that group post daily pictures of the beauty of the Mountain State.  Many members also post nostalgic pictures which leads me to believe I’m not the only one with this propensity.  Maybe it’s something that West Virginians have in their blood.

This afternoon was productive for me.  Lynn had placed an online order at Walmart in Staunton.  Since it wasn’t groceries, they wouldn’t bring them to curbside but they did have a kiosk set up inside the store for pickup orders.  It worked very well.  She had forwarded to me the QR code from her order.  All I had to do was pull that up on my phone, scan it at the kiosk, then one of the 8-10 lockers beside me popped open and there was her order!  I didn’t have to talk to anyone and was in the store less than two minutes.  From there I went to Kroger to pick up two prescriptions I had called in.  I was able to get them via the drive-in window so again it was safe.  Then I went to Central and did some bookkeeping I needed to do.  I got it all done in about an hour, made one stop on the way home to drop off some jellybeans Lynn’s sister Kay had us buy when we were at Costo earlier this week, then I came home in plenty of time to get our usual Friday hamburgers from Old School food truck.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 5          Infected                   Died

World             105,864,287           2,306,802

US                     27,358,493              470,244

Virginia               521,467                  6,732

Augusta County       4,856                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               963,953  (157,507 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,138  (1,122 of whom have 2nd dose)

Tonight was the last regular season game for Fort Defiance boys basketball.  We’ve really enjoyed watching these 12 games.  And, to be honest, FDHS has exceeded our expectations this season.  Going into tonight’s game, they were 8-3 overall and 6 – 3 in the district.  As I stated in last night’s post, they needed to beat Wilson Memorial to grab at least a share of the district title.  Going into the season, I was aware that 6 of the 11 boys on the team were seniors, three of whom started last year so I didn’t think that Henry would play regularly though I hoped he would see action from time to time.  But throughout the season, as I’ve written about many times in this blog, he had established himself as a very important part of the team.  I haven’t kept season records for everyone on the team, but I believe he was the third leading scorer for the year.  In two of the games he made the crucial winning shots in the last minute.  In addition, for the last several games, Fort had three sophomores in the starting lineup:  Henry, Tyreek Veney, and Kaden Johnson. 

First, as always, was Gus’ JV game.  Both games were away so Lynn and I watched them on my iPad while Ann’s family was in the basement using the TV with AirPlay.  A pleasant surprise was that Gus was on the starting five.  This is his first time all season.  That’s great as an 8th grader since there are plenty of 9th and 10th graders on the team.  Gus played the entire quarter, got lots of rebounds, and hit a nice 10 foot jumper as Fort led 10 – 9 at the end of the quarter.  This was a team which blew them away the first time they played.  Even though this was their fourth game in four days, it was the best quarter I’ve seen them play all season.

He sat out the entire 2nd quarter.  No surprise, it was not a good one for Fort.  The halftime score was 23 – 16 in favor of Wilson Memorial.  He did return to the floor as the second half began but only for three minutes.  The quarter was, unfortunately, more typical of what has happened all season.  Their turnovers and missed shots continued while Wilson poured it on.  The score at the end of the third was 38 – 23.  Gus didn’t play again and they could have used him.  I’m sorry for the way this game ended especially with such a good beginning.  Despite Wilson subbing throughout the quarter, Fort still could get no closer.  The final score was 51 – 37. 

Sure enough, Henry, Tyreek, and Kaden started in this important game.  Henry picked up two fouls in the first quarter and had to come out.  He hadn’t scored but had a bunch of rebounds.  The score when he came out was 7 – 7.  Fort scored the next five and had a 12 – 7 lead as time expired but Landon Simmons hit a miracle half court throw at the buzzer to give FDHS a 15 – 8 lead.  Henry came back in with 6:39 and Fort ahead 18 – 9.  Henry scored but then picked up a third foul call on a play in which he didn’t touch the player so he had to come back out.  All of the Fort boys seem to contribute and FDHS built up a nice 30 – 17 lead and closed out the half leading 33 – 21.  It was fun to see so many different kids contributing.  Kaden Johnson hit two nice three pointers in the second quarter.

I rarely agree with referees’ calls that go against my team but tonight the whistles were especially bad for Henry.  He may have had one foul in the first half but he was called for three.  I hope the referees take the time to watch the replay of this game on NFHS and see what bad calls they made.  With Henry on the bench to start the second half, Wilson scored the first four points before Ryan made a 3 point play.  With 4:33 to go in the third, Tyreek hit a three pointer after Wilson had scored to make the score 39 – 29. At this point, Henry came back in.  Fort made a run in the last minute after Wilson had mounted a comeback to take the lead 50 – 37 going into the 4th quarter.  With 5:09 to go Fort still clung to a 55 – 43 lead.  Henry got the two to give them 55.  Then Henry drove and made a great reverse layup to run the score to 57 – 48.  With 2:35 Tyreek buried two free throws to make it 59 – 48.  Fort’s lead was 59 – 50 with 1:42 to go.  With 1:20 to go Henry was fouled but missed the front end of a one and one but Fort held them without scoring and Ryan was fouled this time.  Ryan also missed the front end of a one and one.  Wilson fouled Henry with 31 seconds to go.  He zipped both to make the score 63 – 51 and seal the win.  The final was 65 – 53.  It was a great team win. 

Best of all, we learned that Staunton had lost to Buffalo Gap which makes Fort the District Champions!  On our Family chat session which we maintain throughout the game, my comment was “In December, if anyone would have told me that Fort would be District Champions, Henry would start and be a key player on a team with five seniors and three starters returning, and the season would be played uninterrupted despite COVID-19 I might have doubted that.  Just saying.”

February 6, 2021

According to Henry, the banners inside the FDHS gym indicate that the last time Fort won a district championship in basketball was 1996.  That makes 25 years!  This is really something to celebrate.  There was a really nice video on WSHV Channel 3 Sports last night about the game including the reverse layup that Henry made in the 4th quarter.  And the Waynesboro newspaper not only had a good article about the game but the cover photo shows Henry taking a charge from a Wilson player.  He got good press!  He deserves it.

This morning was a busy morning for us with lots of errands to run.  We started at Central where we got a big box of food for the Aquirre family plus some treats for Juan Pablo.  Then we stopped at Aldi’s grocery store so Lynn could buy a few items.  After that, we stopped at the post office in Fishersville for her to mail a gift to our friends Hal and Diane in Arizona.  We then went to Waynesboro where Lynn gave Juan Pablo his treats then we went to Kohl’s where she returned an item to Amazon.  Finally, we drove to the Aquirre’s home in Natural Chimneys to drop off the food box.  We got everything done we had planned.

After lunch, I did my usual Saturday trash run before making it back in time to watch the WVU – Kansas basketball game.  WVU’s history against Kansas basketball is not good so I didn’t come into the game with high expectations despite the fact that WVU was ranked 17th and Kansas 23rd currently this season.  WVU hopped out to a 9-2 lead and maintained a lead the entire first half.  The score was 44 – 34 at the break.  But within two minutes into the second half the lead had evaporated and the score was 47 all.  It was a terrible 2nd half start for WVU and a great one for Kansas.  But the Mounties rebounded, shot well, and won a rare game against the Jayhawks.  The final score was WVU 91, Kansas 79.  A great win for WVU!

Tonight we had soup from Central UMC for dinner.  We weren’t crazy about it so we loaded up and went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  As always, it was delicious.

Most everyone we know who is in the 65 and over category and wants a vaccine has been able to get it, thankfully.  But that isn’t true everywhere.  We talked to my sister today who has not been able to secure an appointment in Altoona PA despite the fact that she is 75 years old.  I wish she were here because we’ve had multiple opportunities to get ourselves and our acquaintenances inoculated.

The number of COVID-19 cases have definitely dropped off, nationwide.  I’m not sure that Virginia or Augusta County has seen much of a slowdown, though.  Here are today’s stats:

February 6          Infected                   Died

World             106,308,059           2,318,294

US                     27,510,198              473,214

Virginia               526,176                  6,773

Augusta County       4,880                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,022,150  (178,708 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,349  (1,169 of whom have 2nd dose)

It is great to see that a million Virginians have received at least their first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.  There are 8.5 million Virginians so this is about 12%.

We’re supposed to get another snowstorm tonight.  But tomorrow’s temperatures are supposed to be in the 40’s and the snow is to have stopped by noon so perhaps this one won’t be a show-stopper. 

February 7, 2021

The snow came down in bunches this morning, leaving around 6 inches on our ground despite the temperature being above freezing.  It was a very pretty snow since the wind wasn’t blowing at all which meant the trees were quite pretty.  It took me over an hour to do all of my shoveling of the sidewalks, between the cars, back porch, around the mailbox, and other places that wonderful neighbor Bee Myers didn’t get with his snowplow as he made two passes through our driveway.

One issue the last two snowfalls has caused is that our satellite dish has gotten covered with snow; thus, DISH network doesn’t work.  When this happened a week ago, I used duct tape to combine an old broom with another pole to make a 10 foot long device for removing the snow from the dish.  It worked then and it worked again this morning.

I’ve been thinking about some friends of mine that I haven’t communicated with in nearly a year.  This time last year, I texted some subset of this group almost every week.  They are my tennis friends and they include Rob Cale, John Gorra, Pat Peason, Marc Kinder, Lewis Moore, Lloyd Meadows, Bob Stripling, Jonathan Mason, Jack Ballurio, Todd Carr, and Paul Lightner.  I haven’t seen nor heard from any of these guys since last March.  There are a couple of other tennis players I have crossed paths with such as Darrell Miller and Won Un.  It’s like the pandemic cut the lines of communication among us.  Maybe after my second vaccination I’ll try to find out if any of them are playing again.

Lynn had an idea yesterday for a project—to make mugs for each of the FDHS basketball players and coaches with the words “Shenandoah District Champions 2020-2021” on them.  Her Cricut machine can create the letters but it takes a long time to get them placed on the mugs.  Ann bought mugs last night and Lynn spent all day today working on this project.  Both her craft skills and work ethic were on display today as she churned the mugs out one by one.  She bought chocolates to put inside the mugs and plans to give them to the players and coaches tomorrow. 

Though the day started out with six inches of snow, by mid-afternoon the roads were not only clear of snow, they were mostly dry.  The benefit of plowing them early paid off as the sun bore down.  The same was true of my sidewalk, porch, and driveway.  They were all clean and dry by 3:00 pm.  The yard still had plenty of snow.  So did our roof which I had hoped would not be the case since one day this coming week the men from Airtight Windows and Doors are returning to install the four remaining upstairs windows at our house.  They might not be able to do it on Monday but surely by Tuesday the roof will be clear as the forecast is for temperatures well above freezing for the next few days.

My only job for the afternoon was to go to Kroger to pickup a curbside order we had placed yesterday.  There were a few items on the order we wanted for dinner and we had correctly figured out that by mid-afternoon the roads would be fine when we placed the order yesterday.

Today was Super Bowl Sunday.  Before COVID-19, we always had a dinner with Ann’s family with lots of finger foods.  Since we couldn’t do that this year, we made some Pigs in a Blanket using the miniature hot dogs and crescent rolls then took them to their house.  The kids love them.

Rather than watch the Super Bowl from start to finish, we made a quick run to Harrisonburg around kickoff time.  Lynn needed two more mugs to complete her craft project for the FDHS basketball team plus some bags to put the gifts in.  We got back near the end of the first quarter.  She really worked hard on this project today and her back was sore from sitting in the hard kitchen chairs for so long.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 7          Infected                   Died

World             106,673,989           2,326,773

US                     27,609,213              474,933

Virginia               529,125                  6,778

Augusta County       4,897                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,072,748  (195,970 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,658  (1,338 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of new infections in the US is under 100,000 for the first time in a long time.  Augusta County currently has 123 hospitalizations which is a lot.

February 8, 2021

I think I made a mistake yesterday.  I was talking to Lynn on the phone on my way home from the Kroger pickup and asked how her mugs were coming along.  She said they were almost done.  I suggested to her that she could add “FDHS” to the side of each mug and she shrugged at that suggestion.  In fact, she thought I was being critical of her work and that was certainly not the case.  Later she apologized for snapping at my suggestion and I thought the issue was over.   Well, at 2:00 AM she was awake and I asked why.  She said she thought her mugs were unfinished because they didn’t have the FDHS on them.  So out of the bed she popped and worked until 3:30 AM when all seventeen cups had the school’s initials on the side opposite the side she put the basketball on.  The mugs really look good.  This morning she added three coats of Mod Podge to each cup which makes them dishwasher safe.  Also this morning we printed a note to put inside each of them along with a label for each mug with each player’s name and jersey number.  She made mugs for the manager, three coaches, athletic director, and principal, too.  Then she filled all the mugs with candy, wrapped them, and added the label for each.  They really looked great.  She didn’t seem to mind working so hard on this project.  After all, FDHS hasn’t been district champions in boys basketball for 25 years!  Josh picked them up tonight on his way to the game so were delivered to everyone.

Today I made two trips to Central.  The first was in the morning because I had promised the new duo who are counting that I would be around if they had any questions.  It’s a good thing because they had several.  While I was there I got several tasks done including setting up the February 15 payroll, paying the monthly federal taxes, paying three bills, and making the deposit after they counted it.  My second trip was after lunch to help unload the delivery truck from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  The order that was placed for this week was the largest one ever—there were six pallets completely loaded with food.  This will supply our Food Pantry for the rest of this week and for next since February 15 is a holiday (President’s Day).  The amount of food that the Food Bank distributes to Pantries such as ours is really amazing.  At no cost to us or to the recipients, we got over 2,000 pounds of meat, milk, potatoes, milk, beans, canned vegetables, etc.  This order had a lot of frozen meat on it.

We’ve had two snowfalls in the last two weeks and more is forecast.  The forecast for Thursday night is for us to get 2 – 5 inches more snow.  Airtight Windows and Doors is going to try to get our windows finished tomorrow since the weather forecast is nice for then.  Tomorrow we’re supposed to have temperatures in the 50’s. 

It’s been nice to not write anything about Donald Trump for days.  His impeachment case starts tomorrow in the Senate.  How can he not be held accountable for inciting the riot?  He lied about the election results and called for fighting.  He should be found guilty.

In the news today, the COVID-19 UK variant’s cases are doubling every ten days in the US and may soon be the dominant strain of COVID-19.  Biden says there will be more than 300 million vaccines delivered by the end of the summer.  I hope so!  The Johnson and Johnson vaccine should be approved for Emergency Use Authorization before the end of this month.  They have promised 100 million doses by June once it has been approved.  Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 8          Infected                   Died

World             106,962,985           2,334,923

US                     27,686,809              476,284

Virginia                530,825                  6,820

Augusta County       4,931                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,105,102  (206,942 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,705  (1,352 of whom have 2nd dose)

Virginia proudly announces on the Department of Health website that over 10% of its residents now have at least one shot of the vaccine.  This time next week Lynn and I will have both of ours!  Augusta County still has a high number of hospitalizations—up to 124 now. 

Tonight Henry’s Fort Defiance basketball team had a regional quarterfinal game against Fluvanna County.  The game was a home game so Josh and Ann were able to attend while Lynn and I watched from our house.  Personally, my thoughts were that this season has already exceeded my expectations so I knew I wouldn’t be upset if Fort came out on the losing end of the game.

Fort went with its three sophomore lineup to start:  Henry Gutshall, Tyreek Veney, and Kaden Johnson plus junior Josh Jones and senior Ryan Cook.  It didn’t take Fluvanna long to score with a three pointer than two follow up two pointers.  Meanwhile, Tyreek missed his first five shots and Ryan missed one.  Then Fluvanna hit another three pointer to lead 10 – 0.  Tyreek finally got a three ponter to go then Kaden hit one to make the score 10 – 6.   A Ryan drive closed the score to 10 – 8.  Unfortunately, Fluvanna answered with an eight point run to make it 18 – 8.  During this stretch, they got almost every rebound and Henry picked up two fouls and had to come out.  Ryan and Tyreek were cold as ice; meanwhile Fluvanna shot and rebounded until they made it to go up 25 – 8.  A three pointer near the end of the quarter made it 25 – 11 at the end of the first.  There were no calls for over the back despite the fact that Fluvanna routinely did so.

In the second quarter, Henry returned to the court.   Fort went on a nine point run to make the score 25 – 20 with 4:18 to go in the half.  Tyreek got hot and soon FDHS was within three before Fluvanna answered.  FDHS did make it respectable by halftime, 30 – 26.  From 17 down in the first quarter to only 4 down at half was a great comeback. 

To start the second half, Henry was back on the court but he quickly bumped a kid and got his third foul.  Poor Henry!  His fouls were totally inconsequential and should never have been called.  Fluvanna hit two consecutive three pointers to push the lead to ten before Ryan scored on a two straight drives.  Then Fluvanna hit another three pointer and the score was 39 – 30 with 4:39 to go in the 3rd.   A three point play by Fluvanna pushed the score to 42 – 30.  Fluvanna’s lead grew to 44 – 30 with 2:54 to go in the quarter.  At that point, Henry came back in.  Fluvanna pulled back to a 16 point lead, 48 – 32 before Henry was fouled trying to make a put-back.  He hit one of two.  The score was 48 – 33 at the end of the third. 

To start the fourth quarter, Henry sat out. Meanwhile, Fort could do nothing right as Fluvanna went on a 15 – 2 run to widen its lead to 63 – 35.  Henry didn’t play a second in the quarter; the coach substituted his seniors the last few minutes.  It was a good season for the Indians but not a good game to finish on.  The final score was 65 – 41. 

February 9, 2021

Weather-wise, today was the best day we’ve had in a while with temperatures making it to the 50’s by mid-afternoon.  Since the weather was good today but the forecast for Thursday is for more snow, the Airtight Windows and Doors men came to get the rest of the upstairs windows in.  Actually, it was “man” instead of “men” since only the son of the father-son team came.  The father, Steve Johnson, broke a finger yesterday.  Unfortunately, when the morning started the roof still had plenty of snow on it which prevented them from getting an early start on the front windows and especially the small one in Kay’s room. 

Corey Johnson, Steve’s son, worked all day and got our windows finished.  All seven of them look much better and certainly function better now.  These windows can be tilted in for cleaning and even have a night latch where you can open them a certain distance and lock it so they can’t be opened any more.  I told Corey that we would like to accept the proposal to replace our downstairs windows as well but he said he would need to get a new quote from his father.  Plus, they’re backed up a lot now but that suits us fine.  Whenever they can get them replaced will do.

I stayed home all day because of the work being done to the windows.  Lynn had to go to the Rockingham County Schools Administrative Office to pick up an iPad because she is going to be testing a student tomorrow at Ottobine Elementary School.  She’s actually scheduled to test students at Ottobine on Wednesday, Fulks Run Elementary on Thursday, and back at Ottobine on Friday.  However, the forecast calls for several more inches of snow on Wednesday night so I don’t know how much more testing she’ll be doing after tomorrow.

Because the weather was so good today, I grilled steaks for us for dinner plus I made baked potatoes.  Lynn cooked some mushrooms so we had a real feast for dinner.  After dinner, we had some running around to do-she had to pick up something she had ordered from a Cub Run Elementary School teacher whom we met at the Staunton Mall plus she wanted to buy some items from Old Navy in Waynesboro.  After that, I didn’t have much trouble convincing her that we should go to Smiley’s for dessert especially since the flavor of the week this week is her favorite, Death by Chocolate.

I spent a good deal of time today working on a project which I won’t elaborate about yet but which is for a family member.  It is something that I may take to Staples to get printed and bound.  I’ll tell more about this project at a later date.

The news today was dominated by the first day of Trump’s 2nd impeachment hearings in the Senate.  The Democrats played a 13 minute video to start their case that made you cringe just to watch.  He is as guilty as he can be but it is doubtful that 2/3rds of the Senate will vote to convict him.  As one of the Democratic speakers said, if what he did isn’t impeachable then what is?

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 9          Infected                   Died

World             107,376,511           2,348,684

US                     27,790,347              479,390

Virginia                534,116                  6,898

Augusta County       4,962                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,130,763  (217,605 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,049  (1,558 of whom have 2nd dose)

Though the US statistics are improving, I am still concerned about the local situation.  Augusta County’s number of hospitalizations continue to rise—up to 130 now.  And the percentage of those infected who have died is now well above 1%.  Looking back, in June only 8 people were hospitalized in Augusta County and in August this had only risen to 17.  By November this number was in the 40’s and was at 76 at the end of 2020.  That number has skyrocketed since then.

February 10, 2021

Lynn left very early today to get to Ottobine Elementary School to test a student.  She had to give the student four different tests so it took all morning.  In the meantime, I got lots of small tasks done around the house plus I made a trash run at Ann and Josh’s request. 

We were both dragging a little today because we were up late last night watching a great WVU – Texas Tech basketball game.  We went to bed early then noticed that the game came on at 9:00 so we watched it.  It was a great win for the Mountaineers who came into the game ranked #14 and Texas Tech was ranked #7.  Plus, the game was an away game in Lubbock, Texas.

I did some more work on my new project today and pretty much got it ready.  I’m likely going to have it printed at Staples and am trying to decide between sending it off to Staples which would then be mailed back here or dropping it off at our local Staples.  I really don’t want to go inside Staples (or other stores) until I’ve had that second vaccine.

I told Lynn tonight that my taste buds were still working fine as we had another good supper so I’m fairly certain I don’t have COVID-19 yet.  She said her sister Kay’s taste buds are still not back to normal though she got the virus around a month or more ago.

The forecast for tonight was originally for several inches of snow tonight but now it seems like we’ll just get a little sleet and snow.  It may be enough to cause Lynn’s scheduled testing at Fulks Run to be postponed.  I don’t have anything scheduled for tomorrow so my day will likely not change regardless of the snowfall.  Thursday night will probably bring us more snow but that forecast has changed some as well.  It seems that the meteorologists are having trouble pinning down our forecast for the next several days.  The latest is that we’ll get 2”– 5” of snow by the time this all ends on Friday.

I watched more of the impeachment trial today.  The Democrats continue to make their case that Trump prodded and incited those who rioted on January 6 with months of lies, not just his speech that day.  They showed many videos today of the January 6 insurrection.  It must have been really scary for those in the Capitol building that day.

Today Lynn got a call from her brother that he had a check for her share of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger’s estate.  So we went into Staunton to pick it up then drove back to Bridgewater to deposit it.  Lynn has opted to divide it among our children and do it now instead of later.  We have all the money we should ever need (I hope!) whereas each of them can use some extra money now.  Her parents’ estate wasn’t a huge one because the expenses to house Mrs. Hanger at The Legacy for years were great.  But at least her parents were able to support themselves throughout their lives, including the health issues they had in their last years of life, and still ended up with some money for their children.  We can all aspire to be able to do that.

On our way back from the Bridgewater bank we stopped to pick up two quarts of Lynn’s favorite ice cream, Death by Chocolate.  She has plenty of her favorite ice cream now in our freezers.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 10        Infected                   Died

World             107,806,179           2,362,412

US                     27,885,171              482,595

Virginia                537,319                  6,932

Augusta County       4,980                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,156,117  (229,345 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,332  (1,656 of whom have 2nd dose)

Augusta County’s hospitalized increased to 131.  The number of new cases in the US fell below 100,000 which is better than it was in January.  But Virginia still had 3,200 new cases.   I just checked for the statistics a month ago:  on January 10 the US had 212,000 new cases from the previous day and Virginia had 5,100 new infections.  So I suppose the situation is improving somewhat.

Nationwide, over 33 million people, 10.2% of the population, have now received at least one vaccine.  I texted Mary Katherine today to find out if she had any progress on getting an appointment for hers but I didn’t get a response.  Jim already has had his second shot.  So has my brother.  Lynn and I get ours this coming Monday.  I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief after that.

February 11, 2021

The snow that was forecast for last night did not materialize.  We had a little rain in the morning but the temperature remained above freezing so the roads were fine.  Lynn was able to go to Fulks Run Elementary School to test the student there.  She waited to leave home until she had called the school and verified that he was present, which makes a lot of sense.  Fulks Run is 41 miles from here.

I may be bored for the next several days but I do not want to endanger myself now after being safe for the past eleven months with only four days to go until I am completely vaccinated.  I got a request to get some items from Costco for our Food Bank last night but I asked Caroline Jones if I could wait until after my vaccination to get the items.  She was fine with that.  Lynn did go out in order to do her testing and she also made a stop at Aldi’s today but I know she was very self-protective.

I spent a good deal of time today watching the impeachment hearing again.  There is no doubt in my mind that Trump is guilty of inciting the riot.  Those who were caught and are being convicted now are paying for their behavior—why is their leader not?  The Democrat impeachment managers presented overwhelming evidence about Trump’s incendiary behavior in the years, months, and days prior to January 6.  They demonstrated how he called for his mob to come to Washington on the day Congress was to certify the votes of the Electoral College then told them to “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”  They showed how he did nothing to discourage the rioters or check on the fate of Congress and Vice President Pence during the insurrection.  He showed no remorse for what happened.  The more I watched today the angrier I got.  Yet the news reports are that the Republicans in the Senate are unfazed by this evidence.  Where are their souls?  Where is their allegiance?  Where is their conscience?

I like the way the impeachment presenters all referred to the crowd as the “Trump mob.”  One of the impeachment presenters said “I’m not afraid of Trump running for office again.  I’m afraid he will run and lose because look what happens when he does.” 

My sister texted that she got her first vaccine today.  Hurrah!  She, Butch, and I exchanged a few comments.  One of his I strongly agree with, “It feels like we’ve all been wondering which we’ll get first—covid or the vaccine.”

President Biden today said that there would be enough vaccinations in the US by the end of July for every person.  That’s great news.  Right now there are many places with shortages.  Here are today’s statistics:

February 11        Infected                   Died

World             108,259,566           2,376,620

US                     27,992,776              486,561

Virginia                541,018                  6,958

Augusta County       5,007                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,191,875  (245,471 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,792  (1,866 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of hospitalizations in Augusta County continues to climb.  Today the number is 134. 

It was snowing when we went to bed this evening.  The forecast was for 2” – 4” of snow.  Lynn won’t be testing her student at Ottobine Elementary tomorrow—Rockingham County has already called off school. 

February 12, 2021

Indeed, we got about 4” of snow overnight.  So, as I have several mornings already this month, I spent an hour shoveling off our cars and sidewalks.  Today was a little colder than the other days; it was around 26o when I was outside.  The forecast for today is cloudy.  The sun’s radiance will melt the sidewalks and driveway if the layer of snow has been removed so that’s why I shoveled first thing. 

What a pleasure it is to have a neighbor like Bee Myers.  He’s lived across from us all 33 years we have lived in this house.  When it snows, he’s johnny-on-the-spot with his jeep and snow plow.  With his plow he gets the length of our driveway so all I have to shovel is around the cars and on the sidewalks.  He plowed our driveway once in December, once on January 31, and he’s had to do the job several times this month and it isn’t even mid-month yet.

Lynn had lots of craft projects to work on today.  One thing I did was to replace the Christmas dishes with our Fiesta ones. 

Lynn heard from Elizabeth that Gilberto is doing much better now and is able to walk around his house.  That’s such good news.

I was enraged watching Trump’s lawyers give their defense today.  Attorney Schoen made a big deal about Trump being denied due process in this case as if to say that it wasn’t a fair trial.  Yet three of the Senators met with him and the other Trump attorneys last evening.  How fair is it that jurors meet with the defense lawyers?  A Facebook post I saw today said “If I ever commit a major crime, I really hope the jury is made up of the people who helped me do it.”  Then, after complaining that Trump’s words were taken out of context, they played a long video in which numerous Democratic legislators used the word “fight” but every single one of them was taken out of context.  And none of the film clips they showed where Democrats used the word “fight” resulted in our Capitol building being ransacked.

Another attorney blasted the Democratic impeachment team for their hatred of Donald Trump.  No president in my life has been more full of hatred than Donald Trump.  Indeed, he is a person worthy of hate.

The news media was in complete agreement that Trump’s lawyers today were more interested in pleasing him than they were in mounting a reasonable defense.  Their defense was to attack the Democrats.  The defense made no reference to Trump’s tweets that the rioters were “special people” whom he loved and that the “day would be remembered forever.”  They didn’t mention why he made no attempt to come to their rescue or to the Vice President’s.  They didn’t mention that he to this day has not conceded the election. 

Since I really had nothing else to do today, I watched the impeachment hearings all afternoon.  That was a few hours of my life I’ll not get back….

After the defense had rested its case, Senators were allowed to submit questions for the two teams to answer.  One question that caught my eye was from a Senator who asked if, indeed, the teams believed the Big Lie, that the election was stolen from Trump.  Of course, the Democrats refused it vehemently and cited the 61 court cases that went against Trump.  But the irony is that the Republican team refused to answer the question.

For dinner tonight we got hamburgers from the Old School food truck.  After all, today is Friday, snow or no snow.  Actually by the time we went the roads were fine.  We didn’t just get our dinner, we also got dinner for Lynn’s good friend Bonnie Ball and her husband Ron.  Ron suffers from Alzheimer’s and spent the previous two years at a facility but now is at home.  Lynn wanted to help them out so she asked Bonnie if we could bring them burgers and fries from the food truck.

After dinner we made a quick run into Central UMC to pick up some food for the Aguirre family for this weekend.  Pastor Won had picked up a lot of donated food from Food Lion so we filled two boxes of it and brought it back here.  We’ll take it to them tomorrow, if weather allows, or Sunday.  The weather forecast for Sunday is good.  Tomorrow is iffy.  While we were at CUMC I also checked to see how much treasurer’s work was waiting there for me to do.  It turns out there were only two bills to get paid, neither of which needs to be paid immediately, so I put off doing that since we were rushed tonight.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 12        Infected                   Died

World             108,687,432           2,391,794

US                     28,093,824              492,119

Virginia                544,209                  6,966

Augusta County       5,025                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,243,231  (270,738 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,974  (1,968 of whom have 2nd dose)

Augusta County had 135 people hospitalized as it continues to climb.  Three more days until we get our second vaccination!  Almost 11% of the national population has been vaccinated; Virginia’s percentage is a little higher at 11.4%.  Augusta County’s rate is 11.9%.

February 13, 2021

Today was income tax day for me.  I installed the 2020 version of TurboTax and spent a good bit of the morning entering data from our W2’s and 1099’s.  Our income was down a little in 2020 compared to 2019 because Lynn worked less for Albemarle and Rockingham Counties.  But we still are slated to get a good refund from both the federal and state governments.  I will likely wait a few days to submit this but I think I got everything done today.

The impeachment was front and center again today on the news.  I spent the entire day watching this including the 57 – 43 vote to acquit Trump.  Of course, I thought the Democratic team made an undeniable case against Trump but the voting was pre-determined.  In their closing statements, the House managers emphasized how Trump did nothing to slow or stop the insurrection and complimented those who participated.  The Republican lawyers in their closing statement didn’t defend Trump at all but instead attacked the Democratic team and everyone else in the Democratic party.  They even implied that the insurrectionists came both from the left and the right and that Biden and Harris had contributed to the climate of civil disobedience.  I was furious and wanted the Democrats to ask them how many Biden signs were carried by the insurrectionists.  But immediately after the vote came the real jaw-dropper:  Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader of the Republicans, stood up and told how he believed exactly what the Democrats had said, that Trump had instigated everything that happened on January 6, but still voted to acquit him on the technicality that he didn’t think the Senate could impeach a person no longer in office.  This is the same exact person who, prior to January 20 when he was the Senate majority leader, told the House they couldn’t bring their case to the Senate prior to January 20 because he wouldn’t call them back in session.  What a hypocrite!  The 57 – 43 vote, including seven Republicans, is the largest guilty vote ever for impeachment in the United States but it just wasn’t enough since a 2/3rds majority was required (67 votes).  This was a kangaroo court. McConnell himself said Trump could still be charged in a criminal court; we can only hope he is.

Lynn and I were both bored to tears today.  Thank goodness I had the impeachment to watch.  I had hoped to see the WVU – Oklahoma basketball game (which the Mountaineers lost 91 – 90 in double overtime) but it was on ESPN+ which is a paid subscription channel.  The outside weather was very ugly today with freezing rain coming down at times, ice on our sidewalks, etc.  We were stuck inside, hiding in our foxholes, waiting until Monday at 12:45.

I admit that I watched the entire hearing and the comments afterwards on CNN which is definitely a Democratic network.  But I find nothing, nothing that the commentators said that I could disagree with.  Their arguments, and the arguments of the House managers, were just common sense and factual.  If what Trump did is not impeachable, nothing is.  Some of the CNN commentators made this point as well.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 13        Infected                   Died

World             109,066,969           2,403,310

US                     28,188,339              495,725

Virginia                547,424                  6,996

Augusta County       5,047                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,298,573  (303,942 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,226  (2,201 of whom have 2nd dose)

There were still 135 Augusta County residents hospitalized today.  I have spent the last eleven months trying to not be one of these.  I am very, very thankful that Lynn and I have somehow not yet been infected.  Sadly, there are now 53 Augusta County residents who have succumbed to COVID-19 as of today.

February 14, 2021

Today was a very good Valentine’s Day.  Lynn and I gave each other cards at breakfast, as always.  I really liked the one she gave me and I think she had a similar opinion of the ones I gave her.  However, my present for her wasn’t given until afternoon—a Smiley’s Death by Chocolate Ice Cream cake.  She and I each had a delicious piece this afternoon and she froze the rest for another day.

After my Sunday School Zoom class, we ate an early lunch then headed out.  Our first stop was to drop off a loaf of bread she had baked for her friend Cheryl.  Then we drove to Natural Chimneys to take the two boxes of food we had picked up for the Aguirre family at Central on Friday night.  From there we went to Central where Lynn dropped me off to do a little treasurer’s work while she went to T J Maxx to buy a new pocketbook.  It didn’t take me long to get my work done and likewise she quickly got a pocketbook so she picked me up and we were on our way to Smiley’s for the ice cream cake.

Actually I had ordered two cakes, one for her and one for the Gutshall family.  So after we picked up the cakes we dropped them by along with another loaf of her bread for Ann and family. 

When we got home she walked for a while in the frigid cold with Ginny Bauman then we ate our ice cream cake.  A short time later we ate our dinner which tonight was pancakes. 

We spent some time talking about our upcoming trip to the Greenbrier.  There are going to be seven of us there:  John and Ginny Bauman, Paul and Sandy Porterfield plus their daughter Emily, and the two of us.  The weather forecast isn’t great—we won’t be able to enjoy much of the outdoors there but that’s OK. 

Our plan for tomorrow is to eat breakfast here then pack.  She has a 11:30 interpreting session that will likely last 15 minutes or so.  By that time we’ll have the car packed so the minute it is over we’ll head to Augusta Health for our very much anticipated follow-up vaccines.  From Augusta Health we’ll go straight to the Greenbrier and should be there in plenty of time for the afternoon tea.

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

February 14        Infected                   Died

World             109,367,294           2,410,509

US                     28,258,366              497,047

Virginia                549,999                  7,012

Augusta County       5,060                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,323,448  (317,526 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,379  (2,344 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of Americans who acquired COVID-19 in the last 24 hours was under 100,000 and is the lowest this statistic has been since the first of November. But just when things seem to be going better, I have to keep my eye on the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County.  Today the number is an all-time high, 138. This is very worrisome.

February 15, 2021

What a big day!  Getting our second vaccination!  Going to the Greenbrier!  Visiting with friends, eating well, being pampered.  We have looked forward to this for so long.  I was like an excited child last night, unable to sleep well.  We both were up and packed long before we could leave since Lynn had a 11:30 Zoom interpreting session. 

We both killed time in the morning until her Zoom then hustled to Augusta Health.  It only took a few minutes until we had our second vaccination.  YAHOO!!  YAHOO!!  We waited the required fifteen minutes then we were off for the Greenbrier.

The drive down was quick but not pretty.  It was foggy, rained some, and was in the mid 30’s.  But we got here just fine.   When we arrived, we were surprised to see a backup of people registering.  In all the times we’ve come here we’ve not experienced this.  Apparently, there are a lot of people cashing in on the Greenbrier’s reduced rates as were we. 

Since we stay here often, we are a member of the Loyalty club, earning points with each stay.  The advantage of the points is that we were able to upgrade to a nicer room though at the cheap rate.  Indeed, our room was very nice.

Plus, another advantage of staying here so much is that we know where the secret parking places were.  With such a big crowd, there was no easy parking in sight.  But our secret place had a few empty spots so that’s where I parked while Lynn came on up to the room.

We got to the Greenbrier around 2:15.  Paul, Sandy and Emily were here at 3:30.  We met them at the afternoon tea where we enjoyed cookies and tea then talked for several hours.  The large number of people staying here plus the social distancing requirements made it difficult to get a dinner reservation.  We actually had discovered this before we came and the earliest we could secure a reservation for tonight was 8:30.  That’s usually our bedtime!  John and Ginny Bauman made it here around 5:00 and chose to eat dinner in their rooms so we didn’t get a chance to chat with them but had plenty of time to catch up with Paul, Sandy, and Emily. 

Paul and Sandy do so much for other people in their region of North Carolina.  Paul was a successful forester then got into real estate where his work has really taken off.  Every time we’ve visited with them over the past several years his phone keeps ringing.  But much of their business is now to help other people, especially some Hispanic families around them in Grifton, NC.  They finance homes for families, help others buy and sell their properties, and are generally like a rich uncle to a lot of people. 

Our dinner was at the restaurant called The Forum.  It was delicious!  I had a pork chop with asparagus, polenta, and a Greenbrier peach.  Lynn had an angel hair pasta dish. 

It is with great joy that I list today’s coronavirus statistics since today is the first day that Lynn and I are counted in the set of FULLY VACCINATED:

February 15        Infected                   Died

World             109,664,104           2,418,013

US                     28,316,305              498,197

Virginia                551,538                  7,016

Augusta County       5,064                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,367,319  (337,968 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,403  (2,356 of whom have 2nd dose)

The numbers are showing some positive signs.  Virginia had only 4 new deaths today and Augusta County had only 4 new cases.  And, as I’ve been writing about over and over, there are now two residents of 296 Leaport Road included in the number who got their second dose.

We were both very tired and got to bed late but both aware that today was a monumental day.  We are very thankful.

February 16, 2021

Neither of us had any reaction to our vaccination.  We’ve heard of plenty of others who did but many of them took the Moderna version.  Both of us did well with our Pfizer one.  And now with each day we are becoming less susceptible to COVID-19.  Supposedly, it takes about a week to achieve full immunity.

The Greenbrier has adapted to the pandemic in small ways that were noticeable to us.  At yesterday’s tea, instead of having the cookies laid out in buffet style, they were pre-placed on plates and the plates distributed.  At the restaurant, occupancy was at 50%.  There is an expectation to wear masks everywhere except while eating.  There was no turn-down service at night—I’m sure that is to limit the number of times an employee comes into each room.  These are minor, minor changes; the good thing is that the Greenbrier has survived in what must have been a very tough year for them.  Selfishly, we wanted them to stay open because we had purchased a couple of gift cards for ourselves in the past couple of years which were at a good discount and we didn’t want to lose the money on the cards.  But more importantly, the hotel has remained a great place for us to meet with friends.

We had a wonderful breakfast in the main dining hall.  All seven of us met and ate together.  The food and service were superb, no surprise.  After that, the Porterfields went on a Bunker Tour while we and the Baumans went to the history presentation.

We’ve been to the history presentation at least a dozen times.  The one who usually presents it is Bob Conte, the official Greenbrier historian.  He is a great speaker, very entertaining and always shares something new. Indeed, everytime we see this presentation we learn something new about the Greenbrier.  Today was no exception. 

After it, we relaxed then met up with the Porterfields for an ice cream lunch at Draper’s.  Everything at the Greenbrier is expensive except for their great ice cream.  For only $5 you can order a huge sundae of your choice of any flavor plus any toppings you want.  It was more than filling especially given that we had such a big breakfast.

During the afternoon, Emily and Sandy came to our room because Emily had offered to help Lynn with her hurting back.  As I’ve detailed in this blog, her back has been hurting for months, probably injured on the day we moved the Pergola swings to the shed.  Emily gave Lynn a mini-message then she and Sandy showed her how to loosen up the back muscles by standing against a wall with a tennis ball (actually she had a lacrosse ball today) between her and the wall and rolling it by moving her back.  It seemed to work very well for Lynn.  Both of us were very thankful of this relief.

We made it to the 4:00 tea but weren’t hungry and our dinner reservations were for 5:00.  All seven of us were able to eat together at Draper’s.  Lynn and I shared a hamburger and fries—one of the smallest meals we’ve ever had here but it was more than filling.  The conversation was again superb.

We were too tired to go to the casino or do anything else so we came back to our rooms for an early retiral.  Before that we had checked at the check-out desk about our otions for the next two days.  The issue is that there is a major snowstorm coming Wednesday night which is to bring around 4” of snow here plus freezing rain on Thursday morning when we are scheduled to return home.  Plus, Thursday night we’re supposed to get another 4” – 8” of snow.  The lady from the Greenbrier didn’t offer any help; we were told that if we left earliy we’d still forfeit the payment that we made for the room when we made the reservation.  If we stayed an extra night the cost wold be at the normal rate, around twice what we’re paying now.  The Porterfields can’t stay an extra night because they have their second Pfizer vaccine on Friday back in North Carolina.  We agreed to check the weather forecast and make a decision tomorrow.

I’ve looked at the forecast numerous times and personally think that our best option would be to stay here until after lunch tomorrow then come on home before the snow starts.  But I’ll try to not be too pushy with the others though I will let them know my feelings.  We’ll see what happens.

We’ve been away from the news so I don’t know what’s going on in the US but still I can look up our daily coronavirus statistics:

February 16        Infected                   Died

World             110,032,362           2,429,707

US                     28,381,220              499,991

Virginia                553,308                  7,037

Augusta County       5,070                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,399,221  (351,441 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,871  (2,585 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The trend is positive, with fewer and fewer cases of COVID-19 each day in our county, state, and nation.  Yet I am still worried about Augusta’s hospitalizations—today the number was 140, the highest ever.  Augusta County had only six new cases but apparently the people who are getting infected now are having more serious issues. 

February 17, 2021

The weather forecast has turned from a weather advisory to a weather watch to a weather warning.  Snow is definitely coming tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night.  While I had definite feelings about leaving today before the storm comes,  I sensed from Lynn a strong desire to stay.  The Porterfields seemed willing to stay and were anxious to see snow since they don’t get it in their part of North Carolina.  I have disappointed Lynn so many times in our 44 years that I resolved to go along with whatever she wanted to do.  Today I felt sure that this will mean we will end up staying an extra day and not leave until Friday.  Well, we didn’t really have anything that had to be done on Thursday back in Virginia.  The Porterfields must leave tomorrow, though, since their 2nd COVID-19 vaccine is scheduled on Friday.

We had another wonderful breakfast in the main dining hall.  We ate with Paul, Sandy, and Emily; John and Ginny ate earlier because they wanted to check out early today and get back before the storm. 

After that we decided to go to the history presentation again.  Many times I’ve heard Bob Conte say during his presentation that “many hotels have good beds and food but we have history….”  There wasn’t much new this time around but it was still educational to be reminded of the history of this place.

After that, we were too full to eat lunch, but we did think we should move our vehicles from the “secret” parking place they were in because it would likely not be plowed with tonight’s snow.  Plus, many people were checking out today so there were close places to move our cars to now.

We took a walk in the afternoon.  The temperature was in the 30’s but the sun was out and it felt good.  After our walk, chatted for a while then went to the afternoon tea where we enjoyed tea and cookies.  After that, it was off to Food and Friends in Lewisburg for dinner.  We had a great meal there and returned to the hotel.  We were all tired and apprehensive about tomorrow’s weather so we retired early.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 17        Infected                   Died

World             110,419,584           2,439,849

US                     28,453,526              502,554

Virginia                555,592                  7,075

Augusta County       5,085                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,427,750  (366,058 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,296  (2,837 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Augusta County still has 140 hospitalized.  According to worldometers.info, the US just passed the half million mark in number of deaths due to COVID-19.  So sad…

Tonight I am going to bed extremely worried about the road conditions tomorrow, especially for the Porterfields’ sake since they have to leave early in the morning.  I am 95% sure that we are going to stay until Friday now where the forecast is much better.  I am always a worrier about road conditions and will not put Lynn’s life or my life in jeopardy unnecessarily. 

February 18, 2021

We did have snow and ice overnight but not as much as we thought.  The Porterfields were up and out by 7:30. We texted each other throughout the day about our whereabouts.  They got home around 5:00—quite a long day in the car.

Lynn and I had a leisurely morning.  We ate breakfast in the Main Dining Hall, each having some delicious pancakes.  Then we returned to our room and started packing up.  I had kept an eye on the weather and road conditions and decided that it would be safe for us to travel today and best for us to leave around 10:30, just before checkout time.  Those plans turned out to be good ones.  The road home was wet but not icy.  Some parts were actually dry.  And there was no precipitation during our drive.  We got home before 12:30 which is about the time it normally takes us to get here from the Greenbrier.  I had said yesterday that I would make sure our travels home would be safe before leaving the Greenbrier and indeed the trip today was.  Lynn drove the whole way.

In the meantime, Jim had let us know that he had already come to Augusta County hoping to pick up some snowblower work.  He did Kay Carter’s driveway then went to Ann’s to pick up Henry then headed out to find some driveway work in Staunton.  They were gone all afternoon.  Henry said they did about ten driveways.

Shortly after we were home, we heard a loud sound in the garage area.  I discovered that one of the springs on the garage door on Lynn’s side had broken.  I had decided a long time ago that whenever we had more trouble with these doors I’d simply replace them both because they are old, heavy, and frequently don’t work well.  I called my old friend Lowell Fulk who was a school board member nearly the entire time I worked for Rockingham County Public Schools.  Lowell works for Overhead Doors in Harrisonburg and I knew he’d treat us well.  We talked for quite a while, I gave him some measurements and sent him a picture, and soon we had new garage doors ordered.  They will be here in a couple of weeks.

I spent some money today because not only did I order new garage doors but I also sent a deposit to the guy who did our upstairs windows for him to replace all of the downstairs ones as well. 

Jim made it home in time for dinner.  We had thawed some of Lynn’s delicious chicken noodle soup plus she made for the first time some Amish Onion Fritters.  They were very good, too.  For dessert we had some Death by Chocolate cake.

February 18        Infected                   Died

World             110,799,525           2,450,637

US                     28,514,986              504,817

Virginia                557,896                  7,090

Augusta County       5,102                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,471,242  (393,306 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,362  (2,873 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are 141 people in the hospital today in Augusta County, another record.  I just don’t understand how, with the number of infections declining and the number vaccinated rising each day, why do the number of hospitalized also increase from day to day?

I finished off the night doing something I haven’t done in years—watching ice hockey.  Jim loves the Washington Caps and was very happy that they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3 – 1 tonight.

February 19, 2021

Today was catch-up and return to normal day.  Lynn had an interpreting session today despite the fact that the schools were all called off due to snow.  I had several checks to write and some other things to do at Central UMC.  Jim needed to do some minor work on his snowblower before he left and he also fixed the latch on the truck’s hood and, as best as he could, cleaned off our front sidewalk with his snowblower.

I say that he did it as best he could because this was a very tough snowfall to remove.  It was mostly ice with a snow covering.  It was hard to shovel and heavy to lift.  I worked on cleaning off my driveway this afternoon and definitely felt the tug on my muscles.

We bought Jim a lunch at Chicano Boys on his way home and he let us know he had gotten home OK.  After he left Lynn and I went to Costco where we picked up a few things for ourselves, some for her sister Kay, and a big load for Central.  I delivered the Central sugar and coffee when I went to pay the bills this afternoon.

It felt good to relax some from COVID-19 now that we are vaccinated.  With Jim here, all three of us had taken both shots so we didn’t even wear masks around each other.  At the stores, masks were still worn but a lot of the worry wasn’t there.

Since today was Friday, we had our usual hamburger dinner from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  After dinner we went back to Staunton to get two boxes of food from Central for the Aguirre family.  We’ll take it to them tomorrow.

One reason we went tonight is that the weather forecast for tomorrow is bitterly cold.  The low tonight is supposed to be in the teens.  Tomorrow it isn’t supposed to get above freezing and tomorrow night the low is supposed to be 10o.  Brrr!  Next week the temperatures are supposed to be much better.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 19        Infected                   Died

World             111,218,875           2,462,216

US                     28,599,759              507,534

Virginia                559,930                  7,098

Augusta County       5,107                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,513,373  (420,574 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,867  (3,248 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 141 people in the hospital in Augusta County.  There were only five new cases in Augusta County, no new deaths, and eight additional deaths in Virginia.  The number of new cases in the US was around 85,000 which is much less than it has been.  So there’s reason for hope.  The news tonight said that Anthony Fauci now says elementary students won’t get vaccinated until early 2022, after high schoolers in fall.

February 20, 2021

Today was a cold and somewhat boring Saturday.  We slept in later than usual then took our time getting anything productive done.  I made a run to the trash dump in the morning.  When I got back, we ate an early lunch then took the boxes of food to the Aquirre family. 

The afternoon included a basketball game featuring WVU at Texas.  It was a great game.  Texas shot extremely well in the first half and took a 53- 43 lead at halftime.  That was a lot of points for one half.  Then, to start the second half, they hit three consecutive three pointers to take a 19 point lead.  Things looked bleak for the Mountaineers but the kept chipping their way back.  They finally got back even at 76 all.  The last two minutes were very exciting but the Mounties hung on to win 84 – 82.  It was the second time this season they have come back from 19 down.  It was a great win for WVU and made up for the first time these two teams played when Texas hit a three pointer at the buzzer to win.

The low forecast for tonight is 10o, the coldest of the year thus far.  Watching how devastated Texas has been with the cold this year with no electricity and no water has made me appreciate how easy we’ve had it.  We’ve certainly been blessed with winters that have been bearable lately.  Of course, being retired and not having to climb into a cold car to go to work early in the morning has helped.

We made arrangements to meet Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia tomorrow.  They have girl scout cookies for us and we have several items for them.  We will likely meet them in Front Royal which is approximately halfway.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 20        Infected                   Died

World             111,595,464           2,471,015

US                     28,670,976              509,641

Virginia                561,812                  7,197

Augusta County       5,122                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,541,722  (440,339 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,274  (3,628 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are even more people hospitalized in Augusta County today, 142.  And so far this month Augusta County has lost six people to COVID-19 in just twenty days.  Supposedly, now that we’re vaccinated, even if we get COVID-19 it shouldn’t be a bad case of it.  I hope that’s the case, of course.

February 21, 2021

Though the overnight temperature was frigid, it did warm up a little today making it to around 38o.  After breakfast and Sunday School this morning we loaded up the car and headed for Front Royal to meet Kay, Thomas, and Georgia.  They had suggested a park just north of Front Royal that was easy to get to from I-66.

We had a nice but short visit with the three of them at the park.  It was cold but we still walked a little.  I managed to get a few pictures in.  We exchanged items—we had some Christmas items for them and they had Girl Scout cookies for us including some for Butch, Ann’s family, and Jim. 

On our way back we made stops at Dollar Tree and TJ Maxx.  Then we went to Smiley’s for ice cream before coming home around 4:00.  There wasn’t much to do this evening except eat dinner and watch the news and the end of a NBA basketball game—the first game I’ve seen all season.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 21        Infected                   Died

World             111,935,194           2,477,373

US                     28,758,430              511,010

Virginia                564,115                  7,331

Augusta County       5,124                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,574,229  (463,117 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,337  (3,676 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 142 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Augusta County.  The good news is that there were only two new cases in the County the past 24 hours.

We’re still trying to figure out what we can and cannot do now that we’ve had our Pfizer vaccinations nearly a week ago.  We believe that restaurants should be safe now yet we still wore masks today when we visited with Kay, Georgia, and Thomas outside.  We’re planning on eating with Butch in restaurants in Ohio.  We’re not sure what to plan for this summer concerning family vacations.  When Central resumes Sunday morning worship services at Easter will we attend?  Lynn is going to be testing students in Rockingham County several days this coming week.  She is taking a plexiglass shield with her.

February 22, 2021

Not unexpected, Lynn’s work in Rockingham County didn’t happen today thanks to the morning snow.  Schools there were closed.  The roads were a little icy when I went to Central at 8:15 to do my weekly Treasurer’s work.  I had several bills to pay and a deposit to count and record in QuickBooks.

Central’s finances are not in good shape now and COVID-19 isn’t helping.  I told others in CUMC leadership positions today that we were going to have to move money from our endowment funds in order to pay bills.  This is the first time we’ve had to do this since I began working with QuickBooks.

Lynn was bored most of the day since her work was canceled.  She did check out a book from the Staunton City library which we picked up this afternoon.  She wanted something to read while students were taking the tests she has to administer the rest of this week.

Butch is getting more ideas for our trip to Athens OH this weekend.  Our plan is to leave early Friday morning.  It is a 5 hour drive.  Today I found out that our Virginia EZ Pass will work on the WV Turnpike.  The turnpike is the only way to drive from Beckley to Charleston and costs $8 each way.

After an early dinner, we decided that our vaccines allowed us to do some things we haven’t done for months.  We wanted to walk but it was still cold outside.  So, we hopped in the car and drove to the Valley Mall.  We hadn’t been inside the mall in almost a year.  Boy, has it changed!  It looks now more like the Staunton mall looked for years:  multiple empty store fronts and very few customers.  I’d estimate that almost 50% of the stores have either gone out of business or have a sign that they are going.  We thought there might be several old people like us who had gotten their vaccines who would be walking; we saw one other couple.  Most people there were young.  I’d guess that the number of employees just about equaled the number of customers we saw in the mall.  Most stores had two employees in them, chatting with each other or looking at their phones, with no customers.  The stores that somehow involved a service had a few customers such as the nail salon and the eye glasses store.  But almost all of the jewelry stores had closed along with many other boutique stores.  The store that Lynn worked at in the evening for several years after Jim went to college, Christopher & Banks, is closing in 5 days.  We felt very safe there not just because we were vaccinated but because there were so few people there that no one got near us.  Lynn looked briefly in the Belk and Penney’s stores but we mainly just walked.  A sign said two laps around the perimeter of the mall equaled one mile.  We did four laps, two miles.  I felt tired; I am not in very good shape now.  With the better weather that is forecast to come I need to be walking more.

I like how Dish network has the feature that you can rewind up to an hour’s programming and re-watch.  We got home tonight just as the nightly news had ended so I just rewound and watched it. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 22        Infected                   Died

World             112,247,612           2,484,663

US                     28,822,047              512,473

Virginia                565,270                  7,486

Augusta County       5,130                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,602,502  (481,287 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,348  (3,680 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The statistics continue to be puzzling.  Virginia had an increase of only 1,100 number of new cases in the past 24 hours but the number of deaths increased by over 150.  Augusta County’s number of new cases was only six but there are more people than ever hospitalized, 143.  The national graphs clearly show that the number of new cases and hospitalizations across the US are decreasing at a nice rate.  The daily case average is down 74% since January.  Yet today the US marked a grim milestone—over 500,000 deaths.  This is more deaths than the total of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam war casualties. 

February 23, 2021

Lynn was the breadwinner today.  She left early for Ottobine Elementary School to do Access testing for ELL students.  My only chores for the day were conducting a Central Finance Committee meeting at 2:00 and being secretary for Central’s Council meeting at 7:00. 

I did make a quick run to Harrisonburg this morning to get salt for the water softener plus cash for our Ohio this weekend.  Plus, I updated some picture on my computers.  Then I did a few things to prepare for the Finance Committee which met via Zoom at 2:00.  The biggest part of this meeting was for us as a committee to find a way to the cash shortfall caused by decreased giving and high bills.  The committee decided to move $8,300 from one of the investment accounts to the general fund to solve the problem for the short term.

After that, it was time for Freddie’s bus.  For the first time since the pandemic, we felt fine in having him come into our house.  He spent most of the time waiting for his mom in the basement playing on the computer.  He had asked to play Wii but our Wii was dead.  That was a bummer; it has entertained grandchildren for years.

As soon as Ann picked Freddie up, Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  The temperature was fine, around 50o, but the wind was fierce.  That makes two straight days that we have walked and tomorrow’s forecast looks like another walking day.  Lynn was at Ottobine most of the day today but tomorrow her only scheduled work is a Zoom interpreting session in the morning.

I spent some time today doing preliminary plans for us to take an Oregon trip in late May.  Oregon will be our 49th state visited.  I’ve got plans now for a seven day trip where we’ll fly to Portland then rent a car to see lots of the natural beauty Oregon has to offer.  I didn’t make any reservations yet so the plans aren’t anywhere near final.

Tonight I had a conflict:  both the Central Administrative Council meeting and the WVU – TCU basketball game were scheduled at 7:00.  Fortunately, the game was recorded on our DVR so I could watch it in its entirety after the meeting.  I’m the secretary of Council so I can’t just skip out of the meeting.

The Council meeting lasted longer than I wanted it to, around 8:30.  I immediately got the WVU game started and fast forwarded through all the timeouts and foul shots.  The Mountaineers repeatedly went out to comfortable leads only to falter and see TCU get back in the game.  Their 16 point lead in the second half dwindled to eight with four minutes to go as they missed multiple free throws in a row.  But they held on against a decidedly inferior team and won 74 – 66.  The Mounties have now won six consecutive road games in the Big 12 league and are ranked #10 nationally.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 23        Infected                   Died

World             112,638,446           2,495,339

US                     28,897,718              514,996

Virginia                567,039                  7,658

Augusta County       5,139                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,632,700  (497,401 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,562  (3,725 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Particularly worrisome is the number of new deaths in Virginia—172 in one day.  And the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County keep climbing—144. 

February 24, 2021

Today was another easy day with not a lot to do.  I went to Staunton this morning with some errands to do, mainly Treasurer’s stuff at Central.  Lynn had a morning interpreting session with Rockingham County Schools.  The weather today was the best it has been for weeks with temperature rising to the 60’s. 

Both of us stayed busy all day today.  After my errands in Staunton, I came home and did several chores around the house while Lynn went with her sister Kay to Green Valley Auction to look over several items that are now being auctioned from their parents’ home.  Apparently there are some things which the two of them want which were included in the auction so they are bidding on them.  It is an online auction.

When they got back we went back to Staunton to pick up some soup that Cheryl Kent had secured for the Aguirre family.  We also had loaded up the food for them that I brought home yesterday from Central so our next stop was at their home near Natural Chimneys.  We typically take them food on Saturdays but we’ll be in Ohio this Saturday.

After that run we hopped back in the car and went to Penn Laird to pick up pizza from Vito’s Pizza Pie, our favorite.  The pizza we bought tonight will last us through tomorrow’s dinner.

Lynn will be testing students all day tomorrow at Elkton.  I’ve got several things planned to keep me busy during the day.

We didn’t get a chance to walk today which is regrettable given the weather.  The temperatures were warm but again it is exceptionally windy today.  Plus we were rushed between all the errands we ran today.

My nephew Joseph called last evening to say his mom, Mary K., had been hospitalized with a kidney infection.  He said she was doing OK but would likely be there for a few days.  This afternoon I called her at the Altoona hospital.  She answered and her daughter Kit was there so I got to talk to both of them.  Mary K. led me to believe that I had been misled about the severity of her issues.  I think that the kidney issue also led her to have breathing and blood pressure issues.  She even told me that the nurse had told her she wasn’t sure if MK would make it through the night though she was doing somewhat better today.  That was very puzzling.  Even Kit told me she had been called to come this morning so I’m really not sure how she is doing.  Later this evening Joseph texted an update.  In it he said “She had a tough 24 hours.  After last night we felt pretty good about her progress only for kit to get a call from a nurse this morning that they were very concerned that there was increased fluid in her lungs and around her heart and kidneys and she was not fighting off the infection.   After several conversations with PAs and doctors we learned that they have switched one of her antibiotics and it seems to be working better.  They are still worried about her decreased heart function but the first issue is to get the infection down which may be causing many of the other issues.  Her blood pressure is back to normal levels which is good.  Once the infection is under control they will focus on what is causing the kidney functions to be below expectations.  Bottom line from the doctor is that she is stable and under good care although not out of the woods entirely.  She is in good spirits and to no surprise talkative.  I will keep you updated daily but feel free to call if you need more information.”

Some good news on the COVID-19 front is that in an analysis released Wednesday, the US Food and Drug Administration said the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine has met the requirements for emergency use authorization — another step toward the authorization of a third shot for the United States.  This vaccine has the advantages that it only requires one dose and doesn’t have to be kept in super-freezers.  I hope this increases the probability that others in our family such as Kay, Andy, and Josh, will soon get their vaccines.  I don’t think the grandchildren will get theirs for many months.

Here are today’s numbers:

February 24        Infected                   Died

World             113,073,369           2,506,583

US                     28,970,468              517,367

Virginia                568,946                  7,807

Augusta County       5,144                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,667,353  (516,655 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        11,979  (3,908 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Once again, the statistics are puzzling.  Virginia’s daily infections rose by only 1,900 but the number of deaths rose by 159.  Augusta’s number of infections increased by only five and the number who have died and are hospitalized remained the same at 54 and 144, respectively.

February 25, 2021

I had a very busy but successful morning running errands.  First I loaded up our trash and the Gutshall’s and went to the dump.  On the way home I stopped at the Post Office and had our  mail held for Friday and Saturday.  Then I came home, picked up my laptop, grocery bags, and the grocery list and went to Central.  There I recorded the message about Central’s finances that Pastor Won had asked me to do which will be part of the video for this coming Sunday morning.  While I was there I took advantage of Central’s good internet connection to upload the video to my Google drive so Yi-Ping Chen can download it for inclusion in the YouTube video she’ll do for the service.  Then I headed to Kroger and bought Lynn’s yogurt which was on sale.  From there I went to Aldi’s and bought a bunch of items including a fire extinguisher which they had on sale.  Ours hadn’t been replaced since we bought the house in 1988!  Actually I’d already ordered a replacement for it from Amazon but last night Lynn noticed that Aldi’s had them on sale.  So now we’ll have two instead of one so old it probably wouldn’t work.

I got home just before Lynn did from her work at Elkton Elementary, put the groceries away, then ate lunch with her.  On her list of things to do for the day were to make English Muffins for Butch and pepperoni rolls for Wiley.  She started on these jobs then took a break so we could walk in the nice weather.  We had a very pleasant walk; today wasn’t as warm as yesterday but the wind was calm which makes all the difference.  When we got back she finished her chores then we ate dinner.

We both spent time getting ready for our trip tomorrow.  We hope to leave very early in the morning.  We need to make a stop at the Greenbrier to pick up our checkbook which was inadvertently left there last week.  Then we’ll resume on our five hour trip.

I mentioned that for the last two days I’ve spent some time planning a May trip to Oregon.  Lynn suggested today that I should make sure Oregon has no travel restrictions.  Guess what?   If we were to go there today we’d be asked to quarantine for 14 days there!  We won’t be making any permanent plans to go there until this is lifted.

Joseph sent this text to Butch and me midday: “MK is a little better today.  Kidney functions have improved albeit slightly.  They have been successful in reducing fluids around her heart, lungs, and kidneys although that is also a slow process.  She looks better and is in a chair and not bed.  I will send another update tonight after speaking to the doctors.”

Later he wrote again: “She had a better day for sure.  The doctor is pleased with her response to the infection.  The fluid is also decreasing.  She will need some additional testing to understand why this happened but they are focused mostly on beating the infection first.  She will need a heart cath at some point but not until she continues to improve.  She looks better today and feels better as well.  I will keep you all updated.”

Lynn only has one more day of ELL testing in Rockingham County.  She plans to finish up next Tuesday.  She still has some interpreting sessions scheduled but her March will definitely be lighter than her February was.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

February 25        Infected                   Died

World             113,498,837           2,517,458

US                     28,039,576              520,450

Virginia                570,982                  7,963

Augusta County       5,156                       55

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,709,828  (543,394 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        12,377  (4,210 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

From the New York Times data:  In Virginia on January 17, there were 9,914 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.  Today there were “only” 1907.  So the number of cases in the state has definitely decreased and the graph of cases versus time definitely shows that.  What’s disturbing is that since February 13 there has not only been increases in the number of daily deaths, the number is actually at its highest point ever now.  Instead of seeing these numbers decline like cases, they have risen. What’s going on?

I mentioned a few days ago about the online auction involving some of Lynn’s parents estate which had been going on for the past few days.  The auction ended this evening.  Lynn had placed bids on several items.  It was interesting watching the items sell online.  Each item had a specified auction end time.  Items were spaced several seconds apart.  This is a novel way to conduct the auction but it seems to work well.

February 26, 2021

Today was our trip to Ohio to visit with Butch.  We got up early, packed, and were out of the house by 7:30.  Traffic was generally good the whole way.  Our first stop was at the Greenbrier where we had left our checkbook last weekend.  Lynn had called them as soon as we got back and discovered it and, sure enough, they had found it in the safe in our room and held it for us to pick up today which we did.

While at the Greenbrier, we had a restroom stop and I bought some coffee for my brother.  It was a quick stop and soon we were heading east again on I-64.  From there we joined I-77 in Beckley which is the WV Turnpike.  We had previously checked and found out that our EZ Pass would work on the turnpike and, indeed, it did.  We kept on driving on I-77 north of Charleston until US 33W took us straight to Athens.  It was just over a five hour drive plus our stop at the Greenbrier.

We checked in at the Ohio University Inn which is right beside the campus.  It was where we were supposed to have our Thanksgiving family dinner before it got canceled.  Butch joined us there shortly after we got here.  After chatting for a while we took a hike around a section of the campus that, decades ago, housed an insane asylum. 

While we were chatting in the room, we called my sister.  She seemed better today and hopes to get out of the hospital day after tomorrow.  She was a little groggy but definitely seems to have improved.  Kit had texted us earlier in the day that her mom was doing better, too.  That’s good news.

During our walk today, Butch learned from us how Lynn’s back has been hurting.  He has a friend who is a message therapist and he quickly called her and made an appointment for Lynn to have a back massage tomorrow afternoon, 

After our hike, Butch went to his house.  I got a cup of coffee from the Starbucks which is inside the Ohio U Inn and Lynn read a book she had just checked out by Trevor Noah.  Butch picked us up shortly after 5:00 and we headed for dinner at an Italian restaurant, Ciro’s.  It wasn’t the Ciro’s chain we have in Virginia; this was a locally owned and very nice restaurant.  The three of us were joined by Wiley, who drove himself there, and Butch’s friends Kristin and Maria.  We had a great meal:  I had a special spaghetti dinner with meat balls.  Lynn had a mushroom ravioli.  Butch had a salmon dinner.  He insisted on paying for everything.

When we got gack to the hotel we gave Butch the things we had brought for him:  Girl Scout cookies from Georgia, a shirt from Kay, pepperoni rolls and English Muffins Lynn had baked, and the coffee I bought for him.  Lynn and I then got in bed, tired from a long ride and full from a huge dinner.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 26        Infected                   Died

World             113,985,109           2,529,337

US                     29,136,912              523,082

Virginia                572,639                  8,197

Augusta County       5,178                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,781,339  (587,990 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        20,505  (7,197 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The vaccination numbers for Augusta County are impossibly high and I have to believe the VDH site is in error.  There’s no way Augusta County vaccinated 8,000 people today.

February 27, 2021

Today was another day of visitation with Butch.  It started with breakfast together this morning at the hotel.  Then we went to Bath and Body Works where Butch’s friend Kristin works.  Lynn bought some candles there.  Then we went to Butch’s house where Lynn looked through various jewelry and other items that had been Ann’s that Butch wanted to get rid of.  From there we drove back to campus and took a nice three mile walk on the bike path and through campus.

From there we came back to the hotel, talked with Kay on the phone, then Lynn got ready for her afternoon massage.  She had a great experience with it.  We’re going to have to find someone near us who can do this.  She really felt good after it.

While she had her message Butch and I went to his house and called Mary K.  It turns out that she is having issues with her heart.  So instead of her getting released from the hospital, she is going to have a heart catherization done to find out what is causing her heart to underperform.  This is concerning and is the first time she’s had any heart issues. 

After picking Lynn up, we came back to the hotel and watched some of the WVU – Kansas State basketball game.  It was a relatively easy win for the Mountaineers, 65 – 43.  They are currently ranked #10 in the US.

Our next activity was dinner at El Camino, a Mexican restaurant in Athens.  It was a superb meal.  Lynn and I both had Arroz con pollo.  Plus their quacamole was delicious on the chips.  For dessert we had sopapillas.  Butch’s friends Kristin and Maria joined us; we had good conversation in addition to the good food.

Butch seemed to really enjoy our company.  He does have many, many friends in Athens.  He seems to know everyone’s name from the mailman to the servers at the restaurants. 

The good news for today is that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was officially approved for emergency authorization use.  This will add a third arrow in the vaccination quiver.  Perhaps this will mean the rest of the adults in our family can soon be vaccinated.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 27        Infected                   Died

World             114,364,387           2,536,679

US                     29,202,186              524,654

Virginia                574,314                  8,382

Augusta County       5,185                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,855,904  (616,469 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        21,501  (7,695 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 144 people hospitalized in Augusta County. 

February 28, 2021

Most of the day today was spent driving home from Ohio.  We had breakfast with Butch at the hotel then checked out and began our drive home in the rain around 9:00.  It rained from Athens to Charleston WV but from there on it was just overcast.  We stopped once, at Tamarack in Beckley, where Lynn found some Cherry Butter to try sometime.  We were home shortly before 2:30.

I didn’t sleep well last night largely due to the amount of Mexican food I had eaten at dinner and the noise from a party in an adjoining room at the hotel.  So I was tired the whole way home.  Once I got everything unloaded Lynn went into Staunton to pick up the glassware Kay had picked up for Lynn from the estate auction of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger’s belongings at Green Valley Auction.  I told Lynn I was going to lie down for a while.  Whew!  Two hours later I awoke as she came back home.  I almost never nap during the day but today was something else.  I was out of it!  The nap really helped me.

We had hoped to have picked up hamburgers from the Old School food truck in Weyers Cave for dinner but it turns out they aren’t open on Sundays.  So we scrounged together some leftovers then went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is set to be distributed immediately.  This is certainly good news.  Here are today’s statistics:

February 28        Infected                   Died

World             114,670,438           2,542,425

US                     29,251,954              525,650

Virginia                576,050                  8,552

Augusta County       5,196                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,933,953  (666,970 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,317  (8,141 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 144 people hospitalized in Augusta County.  It is encouraging to see that more people have now received two doses of the vaccine than have been infected in the County.  This is also true of Virginia.  Perhaps there is hope for a herd immunity if you consider how many people have already been infected with COVID-19 plus those who have been vaccinated against it. 

We got some good news from Kay today.  Thomas’ good friend Kush had been exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and the two of them had played together so Thomas wasn’t allowed to participate in a soccer tournament this weekend.  Then today Kush got back his test results which were negative so Thomas and Andy quickly headed out to the soccer tournament.

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 ne