Category Archives: July 2020 Posts

July 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

July 1, 2020

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


Unbelievably stupid!  This story is from ABC news tonight:

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


Can you believe this behavior with statistics like these?

Infected                   Died

World               10,780,541              517,842

US                       2,774,663              130,757

Virginia                  63,203                  1,786

Augusta County          184                         2


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


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


July 2, 2020

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


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


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


On the last 1/2 mile of our walk we noticed that a huge 18 wheeler had stopped on the side of our narrow country road.  We had seen this truck come up Limestone Road beside Mount Pisgah Church which is very surprising because that road has a 5 mph curve on it that I don’t know how the truck made.  Anyway the truck was stopped because the driver was lost.  We chatted with him and think we got him back on track to the Augusta County Business Park.  Apparently his GPS had led him astray once he got off I-81.


We’ve had lots of texts from my brother Butch today and others who are on the mass chat he has set up so he can report to all interested parties about her progress.  He called the chat “Ann’s Army.”  Ann is still making some progress in Columbus, slow though.


The Harrisonburg newspaper had an article in today’s edition saying that yesterday was the first day of no new COVID-19 cases since March.  That’s a good sign, especially with the rest of the country going in the opposite direction.


The ABC news tonight verified that the number of infections in one day, 50,700 is more than double that of a month ago.  Dr. Fauci warned that we are losing the war.  Cases were rising in 38 states (but not Virginia).  Yet Trump said “it is being handled.”  With the July 4 weekend coming up, another surge is expected.  The governor of Texas finally made mask wearing mandatory.


Here are tonight’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               10,968,349              523,136

US                       2,832,121              131,406

Virginia                  63,735                  1,816

Augusta County          189                         2


Such a shame that there is no news about a cure or a vaccine.  When will it come?


July 3, 2020

This is a typical July day—hot and dry.  We managed to get in our morning 3 mile walk before it got too hot.


I got an interesting e-mail from YouTube today.  When I was at Bridgewater College I created a YouTube channel for posting my instructional videos.  I posted them mainly for my students though they could be viewed by anyone.  I have nearly 50 videos posted.  Nearly all are screencasts where you hear my voice and see my computer screen but never see me.  I created them to show students how to do various tasks including teaching math topics, instructional video topics, and teaching assistance videos.  One of them has nearly 175,000 views.  The e-mail I got today was a celebration e-mail that I now have 1,000 subscribers.  When you subscribe to a YouTube channel you receive instant updates whenever new content from that source appears. It also enables you to view activity from the author, such as videos that have been named “favorites,” ratings that have been given and comments that have been left.  What’s really interesting is that I haven’t made any new screencasts in over three years!


Lynn’s iPhone has been giving her fits for the past several days.  Many times when you call her the phone just doesn’t ring.  Sometimes she can’t call out.  It is an old phone, an iPhone 6, which may need to be replaced.  I made an appointment for her this afternoon at Verizon in Staunton to see what her options are.  They told her that her phone would be replaced at no cost to us because we have a service agreement on it and all of our phones.


In the morning, she visited with her mother to help with lunch.  Mrs. Hanger’s health remains OK though she certainly has slipped during the past year.


Lynn reposted a message on Facebook I agree with today:


Only three miles of the wall have been built. Mexico isn’t paying, Hillary is not in jail, Obamacare wasn’t repealed or replaced, North Korea and Iran are building nuclear weapons, there’s no China trade deal, the deficit has skyrocketed, race relations have worsened, tens of millions are unemployed, and our country is the epicenter of a national pandemic.



She also reposted a story today about Francis Collins who is Dr. Fauci’s boss at the National Institute of Health.  Francis Collins is a Staunton native and graduated from Lee High School (now called Staunton High School) a few years before Lynn did.  The article gave his rather optimistic predictions for when and how we can get behind the coronavirus pandemic though it was filled with his admission that there’s so much we do not know about the virus.  He gave an explanation on how vaccines are developed and where we currently are in the process.  He seemed optimistic that by the end of the year we’d have mass production of at least one vaccine.  The article also made mention of his Christian faith and understanding that science and faith are not at odds with each other.  I really liked the article.  It was originally posted in The New York Intelligencer on July 1.


Lynn is happiest when she has some craft job in the works.  Today was one of those days.  She has been working on a wooden sign which will go over the double doors to our patio.  She has sanded and stained the wooden 1″ x 6″ x 6′ board.  She created stencils for all the letters and tonight is putting them on the board, “mi casa es su casa.”  Tomorrow she’ll paint the stencils.  She is so talented!


America had its second consecutive day of over 50,000 COVID-19 new infections today.  Most of them came from six states.  Fortunately, Virginia wasn’t one of them.  Here are the statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               11,181,548              528,376

US                       2,890,582              132,101

Virginia                  64,393                  1,845

Augusta County          190                         2


This evening, the temperature was over 85o so we opted to return to Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton for our second walk of the day.  As I’ve said before, the park is shady, not too hilly, and has a very smooth surface since the road was recently resurfaced.  Easy walking!  Our total for the day was 6.2 miles.  Yes, Lynn and I once again walked for nearly two hours today as we do almost every day.


July 4, 2020

This will be perhaps the least celebrated July 4 that Lynn and I have had thanks to COVID-19.  Usually we at least go to the parade in Gypsy Hill Park but, of course, this year there’s no parade.  In some years past our Bryan and Tommy Simmons have discharged an extremely impressive fireworks display but after a neighbor complained they’ve quit doing that.  We invited Ann’s family over for hamburgers but they are going to Josh’s sister’s house to swim instead.


We did our usual morning walk before it got in the 80’s today.  As on many of our walks, we had a chance to stop and chat with several people while we were hiking.  We talked with Elizabeth Tuttle who lives not far away on Cider Mill Road.  She is a painter from whom we just bought two originals which are now displayed in our downstairs bathroom.   She is also Toni Sheets’ mother and told us of the awful plight Toni is in now after having fallen and broken bones in BOTH elbows.  Toni is also battling colon cancer so she didn’t need any more maladies.


We also talked with James and Millie Davis who live on Limestone Road.  Like us, both are now retired.  Millie taught at Fort Defiance with Lynn.  They are avid walkers/runners.  Finally we chatted with Beth Metcalfe as she was driving her two twins to their church the day before their sixth birthday.


It’s surprising that there are many United Methodists in our neighborhood but they go to several different churches.  The Metcalfes go to Bethany UMC which is north on US 11.  Millie and James Davis and our immediate neighbors the Myers and Links go to Verona United Methodist.  Of course, many in the area attend Mt. Pisgah UMC which is in sight from our front door.  And we go to Central UMC in Staunton.


With nothing on the calendar today and no events to attend thanks to COVID-19, Lynn and I were both a little bored today.  Boredom isn’t something we’re used to.  Certainly during our working lives boredom was never felt.  And even in retirement we’ve stayed very busy walking, working around the house, visiting with family, and running errands.  For me, when I’m bored I feel guilty.  Shouldn’t I be doing something useful?  What chores need to be done?  I know I’ve spent a good bit of time writing on this blog since April 20.  What should I really be doing?  I play my usual games:  Sudoku, Whirly Word, and Solitaire.  After a while even those bore me.  Lynn at least had her craft project (kitchen sign) to work on.  She finished it today and it looks quite nice.  Plus she’s cooking a good bit today.  I’ve played the piano some (more guilt feelings) and done a little work on the Central UMC website.  But mostly I’ve done nothing.   Lynn likes to keep game shows on the television but I get to a point where I need a break from them, too.


The World Health Organization reported that today was the highest single-day coronavirus case total worldwide.  Here are the stats:

Infected                   Died

World               11,345,442              532,391

US                       2,931,745              132,299

Virginia                  65,109                  1,849

Augusta County          192                         2


Thirty years ago we would have been sitting in the baseball field next to Gypsy Hill Park on the night of July 4.  We would be surrounded, closely, by 65,000 fans of the Statler Brothers and their guests at the annual Happy Birthday USA Celebration in Staunton.  It was really something to behold.  We would set out folding chairs out at 3:00 AM on the 4th then come back for the 8:00 pm concert followed by, of course, fireworks.


What a difference this year!  Lynn and I decided to walk in Gypsy Hill Park tonight since the road is so shady and the temperature here was above 85o.   Even though the Happy Birthday USA celebrations ceased in 1994, Gypsy Hill has still been home to thousands of people who come to the parade then picnic there.  With COVID-19, no parade, and the threat of a storm, we were shocked to see fewer than 100 people in the entire park as we walked.  The park was literally the emptiest I have seen it anytime we have walked there.  And on July 4!


Actually it did start to rain a bit as we were halfway through our second of two laps around the park so we took a shortcut back to the car then came home.  Our tomatoes could have used some of the rain but it never made it here to Mount Sidney.  It stopped in Verona.  Oh well, at least we still had time to finish our walk so we did our one-mile-out-and-back route making our total for the day 7.6 miles.


Lynn and I joked that at least we were safe today.  I think we talked to a total of seven people all day and they were all at least six feet away.  We ate exceedingly well tonight with hamburgers on the grill.  She tried a new way of preparing the hamburgers by mixing in mushrooms to the ground beef before I grilled them.  They were delicious!


July 5, 2020

We cued up Hamilton on our Disney+ subscription last night and started it when we went to bed at 9:00.  Unfortunately, we both fell asleep during the show.  I’m sure we’ll re-watch it several times this month now that it is available.


If there’s any word that describes America now it is divisive.  We have Republicans feuding with Democrats, liberals vs. conservatives, white power groups and those who insist that black lives matter, police supporters and those who want to defund and disempower police, mask enthusiasts disagreeing with those who refuse to wear them, those who want to tear down Civil War statutes fighting with those who want to keep them standing, people who insist that America should re-open from its quarantine against those who think that re-opening is fueling more COVID-19 infections, those who believe that science has the answers we seek compared to evangelicals who decry science, Trumpsters who want to build the wall to keep out Hispanics on the opposite side of those who wish to embrace and. assist them, advocates for healthcare for everyone and its opponents, and Second Amendment advocates versus those who insist on gun control.  Facebook is full of lethal posts on both sides of every issue.  We need unity but I do not see it on any horizon.  There doesn’t seem to be middle ground on any of those issues.


It was 9:30 before we got away on our morning walk.  We did a 2.8 mile hike in the heat.  Of course, it is getting much hotter later so I guess it was good that we got this in when we did.  Lynn has been having some trouble with shin splints lately so we may pull back a little from our daily walking.


It was Lynn’s turn to help her mother at lunchtime so we left for The Legacy shortly after our walk.  From there we went to Michael’s in Waynesboro for her to buy some craft materials for our Avon Hill vacation.


Florida is really having a COVID-19 outbreak.  They have over 10,000 new cases every day, 20% of the new cases in the US.  Of course, this is where the Republican governor went light on restrictions at first though he is back pedaling now by necessity.  Their percent of those testing positive is also quite high–nearly 20%.  Arizona and Texas are also still undergoing an unabated surge in cases.


Trump made remarks yesterday at a July 4 event in Washington and claimed that “a therapeutic and/or vaccine will be around long before the end of the year.”  Today a member of his own coronavirus task force, Dr. Stephan Hahn, refused to offer such a timeline for its final development.  Yes, there is furious work going on regarding vaccine development but I do strongly predict is that Trump will have something released prior to the November 3 election that he will claim will kill the virus.  But he also claimed earlier that hydroxychloroquine did that which was proven false.  You just can’t trust that guy.


This afternoon I felt ambitious and did something that I have been planning to do for months–took the wallpaper off the small green bathroom off our laundry room.  I use that bathroom all the time.  Nearly every time I did I saw the places where the wallpaper had worn off or was torn.  No longer!  Tomorrow I plan to paint the room using some paint we originally bought for the kitchen before changing our mind.  It took me a couple of hours to get the walls bare.  I’m glad that job is behind me.


We invited Ann and her family over for ice cream tonight thinking that we could eat outside.  But around 4:45 a severe thunderstorm blew through here.  We had hail, lightning, and lots of rain.  The storm had left before 7:00 when the Gutshalls came over but the threat of rain was still there.  But I dried off the patio furniture and we enjoyed our treat outside after all.  It was so good to see the Gutshalls.  Of course, before the pandemic we ate dinner with them every Sunday night.


Here are the numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               11,586,780              537,372

US                       2,983,155              132,571

Virginia                  65,748                  1,853

Augusta County          193                         2


July 6, 2020

Today was painting day for me.  The bathroom is small so I was able to get it all done in one day.  I cleaned up the wallpaper scraping from yesterday, taped where it needed, painted, came back in a couple of hours and touched up, then cleaned up.  The color isn’t great but I’m OK with it.  At least the bathroom is very clean now.


We walked our usual 2.8 mile neighborhood walk in the morning.  We were a little late getting out the door since I was prepping for painting and Lynn was doing laundry.  But we got it done before it got too hot.


We took a break in the afternoon to run to Mt. Crawford to pick up some tomatoes.  Lynn discovered that the vegetable stand there had one of her favorites–sour cherries–so she got some and will make jelly with them.  We also got a cucumber and a few Golden Delicious apples.


Lynn helped her Mom with lunch today.  Then, this afternoon, Ann took her family to visit her.  Only 24 days until she turns 101!


In addition to all the news about coronavirus, a lead story today is that there were six children killed in the past 72 hours by gun violence.  These incidents happened in various US cities but all had the common denominator of gunshots.  I’ve written many times that I do not own a gun, want a gun, or think anyone except for law enforcement needs to have a handgun.  I can see the need of owning a .22 rifle or something similar for killing rabid animals.  But I’ll let my neighbors be the ones who own that.  No guns for me!


Trump recently claimed that 99% of COVID-19 cases were “totally harmless.”  Tell that to the families of the 130,000+ Americans who have already died due to the virus not to mention the thousands and thousands who have been hospitalized.  Even if they recovered, you could not say the virus is harmless.  He says that the reason we have so many cases is that we test so many people.  Can you believe this idiot?


Trump also claimed that the US was a world leader on COVID-19.  What a lie!  The fact is, the European Union continues to ban all Americans from coming to Europe due to the fact that our cases are rising out of control.  Thank goodness Lynn and I had our Italy trip last October.  We wouldn’t be allowed to visit Italy now.


Lynn’s replacement iPhone arrived today.  I spent a good deal of time getting it set up just like her old one which had died.  It now has 3,400 songs on it and connects to her Toyota when she gets in.  All of her contacts and apps were restored.  And thanks to the fact that our neighbors got a UPS delivery this evening, her old one is on its way back to Apple as required.


Lynn has come up with another craft idea for the kids at Avon Hill.  Today she tested it out and it worked fine.  I can’t elaborate yet on any of her ideas for fear that the cat will get out of the bag!  Those grandchildren are so lucky to have a talented and interested grandmommy.


This was another typical July day with an afternoon thunderstorm with rain.  But the skies cleared for a late walk for us though it was only two miles.  Lynn’ fitbit said we had gone 6 miles today.  But she had done some walking that I hadn’t since I stayed and painted while she ran errands and helped with Ann’s family visiting her mother.  The health app on my phone said I’d only done 4.7 miles today.  Nonetheless, it was a good and productive day for me.


Here are the figures for today’s coronavirus:

Infected                   Died

World               11,717,549              539,836

US                       3,029,704              132,852

Virginia                  66,102                  1,853

Augusta County          194                         2


July 7, 2020

Lynn finally has a good working phone so she has been on the phone much of the morning making calls to families of upcoming kindergarteners in Rockingham County Schools to see if their child needs ELL services.  Unfortunately, many of the calls went to voicemail.  She was able to talk to some parents and children.


We were able to get in a two mile walk after breakfast.  Much of the time during the walk was spent on the phone with my sister who called us.  Of course, she was concerned about Butch and Ann but also shared various DeLeo family news with us.


Today I created a video for Central containing both a stewardship message (since I am Chairman of the Finance Committee) and the congregational prayer for July 12.  I tested it here at home then went to Central and recorded it in the sanctuary.


From CNN news today:  The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as effective against the novel coronavirus when used on hard, non-porous surfaces.  Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist meet the EPA’s criteria for use against the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the ongoing pandemic, based on laboratory testing that found both products kill the virus two minutes after contact, the agency announced in a statement Monday.


Now I’m very glad that on our last Costco trip we bought a four-pack of the disinfectant spray!


CNN also reported that Donald Trump’s niece Mary Trump’s scathing tell-all book will be released on July 14.  In it, among other things, Mary claimed that Donald paid for someone else to take his SAT test for him.  She also describes how Trump’s family, especially his father, created the monster who now is our president.


Here are the daily statistics:

Infected                   Died

World             11,940,5245              545,605

US                       3,096,503              133,954

Virginia                  66,740                  1,881

Augusta County          200                         2


We got in our second walk of the day at Gypsy Hill Park.  Since our morning walk was shortened, we only did 5.1 miles today.  That’s still plenty for me.


July 8, 2020

The news this morning is more of the same–over 50,000 new cases of coronavirus per day in the US.  Texas alone had over 10,000 new cases.  People spent 13 hours in line for testing in Arizona.  The daily death rate increased in a dozen states including Virginia.  Yet Trump said that schools in the US should re-open in the fall and threatened to pull federal aid from those that don’t.


I am puzzled as to why so many people are calling for schools to be open and bars to be closed.  Both involve people sitting in close proximity to each other with the obvious threat of virus spread.  Yet one is OK while the other should be banned?


I saw a Facebook posts today that really hit home.  First, there was this Trump tweet:

“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and many other countries SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS.  The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if US schools open before the November Election, but it is important for the children & families.  May cut off funding if not open.”  Immediately after this was the post, “New cases, yesterday:  Germany: 298, Denmark: 10, Norway: 11, Sweden: 57, USA: 55,442


Another Facebook post was a re-tweet someone wrote:  “am I understanding this correctly?  covid-19 is so deadly that Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen had to be released from prison early, but it’s also so benign that we needed to be packing the nation’s children back into their schools pronto?  ok, cool, that checks out”


Another hot July day here! We walked after breakfast so we got 3 miles in before it got unbearable but the temperature rose to the 90’s in the afternoon.  I wanted to cut grass but Lynn convinced me to wait until tomorrow.  I did make a trash dump run and did a few minor jobs around the house.


In my spare time today I worked on my pictures.  I have a special folder with my favorite pictures from 2019-20 in it that my computer randomly pulls pictures from and displays when it goes into sleep mode.  Right now there are 1,515 pictures in that folder (with six more months to go this year).  That’s just my favorites!  I probably have 10,000 pictures in all from that era.  On my website I have over 50,000!  My work today was reviewing several recent albums I had taken and selected favorites to add to that special folder.  I could spend hours just glaring at those pictures.


We opted to get a carryout meal from The Depot tonight.  They have a family chicken tenders meal.  It comes with two sides but we asked that both be baked potatoes.  They gave us eight full baked potatoes!  We love their baked potatoes so that was quite a treat as were the chicken tenders.


After dinner we took a short but hot walk at Stewart Middle School.  It was 87o when we started.  Our total for the day was only five miles.


This evening we had the weekly Hill Family Zoom.  As always, it was a combination of conversation, mayhem, and fun.  No surprise, I loved it!


Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               12,155,402              551,183

US                       3,158,731              134,853

Virginia                  67,375                  1,905

Augusta County          201                         2


July 9, 2020

Another hot, dry day but at least the forecast is for temperatures to top out in the high 80’s instead of 90’s.  I had to get up early as I had an eye doctor appointment at 8:00 AM in Fishersville.  The appointment went as expected.  The office was very safe.  When I drove into the lot an intake person immediately came to the car, asked me the usual COVID-19 questions, took my temperature, and told me they’d call me when they were ready for me.  At that call, I went straight in to the office and had my evaluation with Dr. Patel.  She was very succinct with the appointment; in the past she has been more personable.  All of this is quite understandable.  The good news is that my eyes basically showed no change.  I have had cataracts in both eyes for a while; neither is an issue.  The official diagnosis is that I have bilateral, age-related, nuclear cataracts.  I also learned a new word:  drusen.  I have drusen of macula in my right eye.  Drusen are wear and tear changes to the retina that are not consistent with macular degeneration but may represent early evidence of the disease.  My brother and sister both have been diagnosed with beginning states of macular degeneration though it is not critical with either of them yet, thankfully.


When I got back we took our neighborhood walk as it was already starting to get hot.  We got in 2.8 miles.  As usual, we talked to random people again on our walk.  Today it was a former employee of mine, Doris Gardner, who stopped her car to chat for a moment.  It turns out that her daughter, Brooke Wine, lives very near us on Limestone Road and is a first grade teacher at Clymore Elementary School.  Doris was a great employee; it was great to see her again.


After lunch I got all of my grass cut.  I was glad to get this behind me before our Avon Hill vacation.  It has been so hot and dry that it hasn’t grown much lately and hopefully won’t grow much for the next couple of weeks.


Lynn and I made a quick trip to our favorite produce market, Overlook Market in Bridgewater, where she picked up some tomatoes and more sour cherries.  She really loves her sour cherry jelly.


This afternoon brave Lynn went to Walmart and Kroger to get a few things.  She is always very careful there, avoiding people and keeping her mask on.


In COVID-19 news, cases are rising in 36 states.  Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas remain hot spots with ICU facilities at near 100%.  Florida has 56 hospitals with no empty ICU beds.  Many of the states with cases out of control were those who re-opened early and before they met the CDC’s guidelines for opening.  Cars line up for testing for over 24 hours in some cases.


Here are the numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               12,350,460              555,894

US                       3,211,610              135,646

Virginia                  67,988                  1,937

Augusta County          200                         2


Last night, when we started our last walk it was 87o.  Tonight it was cooler, 84o.  But we chose to go to Gypsy Hill Park where it was 90% shade.  It was a very nice walk.  We ended up the day with six miles walked.  Not bad for two old people in the heat, huh?


July 10, 2020

On Good Morning America, the news is that hundreds of cases of COVID-19 are linked to sports and church events.  So how does anyone think schools will be safe for children?


My dad was born in 1912 so he grew up when times were very different.  He had a younger brother Harold.  Dad started in school and did very well but after a couple of years of elementary school his mother kept him out for an entire year to give Harold time to grow so he could go to school with my Dad.  I’m not saying that this is an ideal situation, but the point is that he survived and thrived.  Though undesirable, I believe that today’s kids could sit out a year and still come back and do well.


Another story comes to mind.  I once took a course in how to teach AP Computer Science.  There were about ten of us in this James Madison University course.  We learned all about a computer language, Pascal, and how to teach it.  But on the last night of class, our professor surprised us when he said that he wouldn’t let his own son take the course!  He objected to all AP courses, asking us why we were trying to cram more into the life of a high school student when life expectancy was longer than ever?  He said that it was the only time in a kid’s life that they could be in a band, drama, and/or chorus.  He said to let them take college courses when they go to college and not before.  So what’s the rush to re-open schools?


The other news about coronavirus is same old, same old.  In the hotbed states there’s a shortage of tests, shortage of medical workers, shortage of personal protection equipment.  This was New York six weeks ago.  The difference is that New York got firm with their shelter in place orders whereas states like Arizona have only conceded to a reduction to 50% occupancy in restaurants.  It needs to be 0%.


ABC news reported that Trump’s disapproval rate is 67% for how he’s handled the COVID-19 crisis and the same for how he’s handled racial disputes.  These are the two biggest issues of his presidency and he’s failing miserably.  Yet his base is still believing he is God’s gift to the Presidency.  How can anyone think that a rotten onion smells good?


I’ve been thinking today about how I’ve spent the nearly four months of this quarantine.  Seven verbs come to mind:  walk, work, eat, sleep, write, watch, and play.

  • I’ll soon calculate how much we’ve walked but at an average of 7 miles per day (it is likely higher), for 120 days, that’s 840 miles. We almost always spend at least two hours every day walking.
  • I’ve done many, many jobs around the house that I normally would not have done such as cleaning out cabinets, mulching, building the Pergola, removing the wall paper and painting the green bathroom, pressure washing lots of surfaces around the house, and my normal trimming and mowing. There are always jobs to be done but, to be honest, my list is rather short now.
  • We’ve eaten superbly thanks to Lynn. Her sourdough bread is great and we eat it every day.  She has done a wonderful job fixing caramel, cakes, chicken, loaded hamburgers, guacamole dip, wine slushies, strawberry preserves, sour cherry jelly, fried potatoes, and more.  Thanks to all the walking and working I’ve done, I’ve not gained weight.  In fact, I actually weigh a little less now than I did back in February.  I’m clearly not eating less.  I confess that I’ve also eaten way too much junk food such as cookies and ice cream cake. It is so hard to not eat when you’re at home all the time and good food is only a few feet away at all times.  Lately I’ve been snacking on delicious cherries and peaches Lynn bought at Aldi.
  • I sleep over eight hours every night. This is so new to me.  When I was working, seven hours of sleep would have been a blessing.  Now we go to bed around 9:00 PM and get up after 6:00 AM.  Sometimes it is light outside when we go to bed and awake!
  • As of today I’ve written nearly 130 pages, single spaced, on this blog. I always write it first on Word then copy and paste it to my online blog.  Since April 20 I haven’t missed a single day writing.  It usually takes me at least 30 minutes to write a day’s record.  As I’ve written before, it is very therapeutic for me to write.
  • No surprise, I’ve watched a good bit of television during the past four months. I’ve mainly watched the news, seeing it in the morning, frequently around lunchtime, and at dinner time.  We like the ABC version of news.  Lynn keeps the television on game shows so it is impossible to not see some of them.  Some of the game shows have been inspiration for the games I’ve created for our family vacation next week at Avon Hill.
  • When I’m not doing any of the previous five activities, frequently I am playing one of three games on my iPad: Sudoku, Whirly Word, or Solitaire.  On April 20 I wrote that I had played 17,820 consecutive games of Whirly Word and 8,311 games of Solitaire.  Today the Whirly Word total is 18,750.  So I’ve played 930 more games since I started writing this blog, not including the ones I’ve done on my iPhone.  To advance from one Whirly Word game to the next, you must get one of the six letter words or at least most of the total number of words that can be made with the six letters that are provided.  I always try to get ALL of the words and 95% of the time I’m successful.  I’ve now played 8,832 games of Solitaire which means I’ve done 521 of them since April 20.  With Sudoku, I always do two puzzles at breakfast–one “mild” and the other “moderate.”  When you complete a Sudoku with the app I play, you are given a percentile of how long it took you to complete it compared with the other thousands who have finished it that day.  When I beat the 50th percentile I am happy.  Today, for example, was a good day because I completed the mild puzzle in the 49th percentile but the moderate one in the 86th percentile.  Some days I’m much, much worse.


The news tonight that more records are being set with COVID-19 cases.  Even Virginia was listed as one of the states with an increase in deaths.  There is word of a camp in Missouri that had to be shut down because more than 80 campers came down with the virus.  What does this say about the opening of schools?  Yet Trump and many others are insisting that school not only open this fall, but open with five days of school each week.  I just don’t see it now.


NBC News had this to say about Virginia’s school reopening plans:

After an uptick in COVID-19 cases around the state, Gov. Ralph Northam said students won’t move forward with returning back to school in person if Virginia isn’t able to stay in Phase Three.  Northam said that so far, Virginia has been able to avoid the same type of spike in COVID-19 cases that other states are experiencing, but there a concerning increase is starting to be seen, particularly in the Hampton Roads areas.  According to NBC affiliate WAVY, the daily cases in that region have more than tripled in the last two weeks, with more than 220 new cases every day. The percent positivity rate of tests in Norfolk also at more than 16 percent, compared to the 6 percent statewide.


We had a short thunderstorm tonight at dinner time but still found a break in which to walk a little afterwards.  I carried an umbrella which we were forced to use during the walk but it really didn’t rain much.  We didn’t get much walking in today.  My health app said I did 4.6 miles.


Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               12,602,895              561,778

US                       3,285,592              136,570

Virginia                  68,931                  1,958

Augusta County          204                         2


This data shows that the US had more than 70,000 infections since the previous day.  That is unreal.  The only good news here is that Augusta County’s death total is still 2, the same it has been since June 2.  I’d be very happy if that number never changed.


July 11, 2020

I didn’t have much time to write today.  Today was Saturday, another hot July day.  After breakfast we walked a 3.1 mile hike before it got too hot.  When we got back, Lynn worked on some crafts she has for the kids at Avon Hill next week while I carried all the tools I thought Jim and I would need down to the playground.  He had called me and said he was doing some work at his church this morning then driving here to work on the playground set.


The issue with the playground set is basically that it is getting old.  Lynn and I figured out that we installed it at least 11 years ago.  The structure has eight 4″ x 4″ posts that support it.  The bottom of each, which sit in dirt, had deteriorated.  When Jim was here working on Lynn’s Pergola he had a good idea–to buy eight concrete deck blocks.  When he came today we jacked the entire playset off the ground using my digging bar as a lever, cut off the bottom 5″-6″ of each post, inserted the concrete deck blocks below, the lowered the playset back on top of the concrete blocks.  That one sentence took us about three hours but we got it done.  This way the bottoms of the posts no longer rest in the dirt.  Then we went to Lowe’s and bought two 12′ long deck boards.  We cut them into two 8′ lengths and two 4′ lengths and then installed them just above the deck blocks around the perimeter of the playset giving it more rigidity.  I do think the playset is good for another half dozen years which is all it has to make since our youngest grandson, Coen, is three now.


Jim is such good help.  He has a good mind to solve problems, great skills with tools, and is very concise with all of his measurements.  He doesn’t rush through a job like his father sometimes does.  He is strong as an ox and has a great set of tools.  I am so proud of him.


The only reward he got today was a good lunch and an even better supper.  Lynn and I had thawed two t-bone steaks.  We split one and he ate the other.  Plus, Josh brought us a big mess of green beans from his parents which Lynn cooked.  She also fixed some guacamole dip.  It was a great meal.


For dessert, we had some brownies she made this afternoon.  But they weren’t all for us.  Lynn has such a good heart–one morning this past week we bumped into Jeff Michael who lives almost a half mile away near Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church.  His dad, John, lives even closer but has had many medical issues lately including some strokes.  He told us that his dad still was able to eat most anything and loved sweets.  So tonight John Michael had brownies to eat thanks to my good hearted spouse.  What a gal!


The CNN news is lamenting how the COVID-19 pandemic is basically out of control in Arizona.  Their hospitals are full.  They don’t have enough health care workers or protective equipment.  Their governor opened up the state way too early in order to appease Donald Trump.  On CNN tonight, I heard a Phoenix Congressman blast the governor and Trump for their lack of leadership.  He told how Arizona has such a poor support mechanism for the poor that they must go back to work in this pandemic which just causes more infections.


Brazil reported more than 40,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths just today alone.  They have over 1.8 million cases in all.  Their president, who has said that COVID-19 is as harmless as the flu, now has it himself.  He has ignored social distancing and wouldn’t wear a mask.


Donald Trump was seen today wearing a mask!  It took him four months to get the message.  What a leader!


Here are the figures:

Infected                   Died

World               12,839,566              567,574

US                       3,355,646              137,403

Virginia                  69,782                  1,962

Augusta County          205                         2

We closed the day with a final walk before sunset in the neighborhood.  The health app on my iPhone said I had walked 7.6 miles today.  Whew!


July 12, 2020

Today is packing up day for our Avon Hill trip.  Though we’re looking forward to this four day, three night, outing, it isn’t the summer vacation we had planned.  We wanted to return to Eden Resort in Lancaster along with Mary K and Kit’s family for our annual “Cousincation” but we all decided that would be too risky especially given the community pools there.  So our family opted for Avon Hill since it is much closer, only 75 minutes away, and has a private pool that will be ours for the duration of our stay.  Unfortunately Jim and his family won’t be joining us.  So there will be twelve of us there.


Since we had done Eden Resort for so many consecutive years, we knew how to pack for it.  This is a little different since now we’re renting a (huge) house and having to provide some things that Eden provided.  Plus, there’s no restaurant or grocery store close by though Scottsville VA is only twenty minutes or so away.  I’ve got elaborate lists prepared including what food and non-food items to bring.  Our plans for dinner are to have pot luck on Monday, the first night, then grill on Tuesday and bring in from Scottsville or Charlottesville on Wednesday.


Lynn has been baking all day.  She’s making sourdough bread, pepperoni rolls, hamburger rolls, and a coca-cola cake all from scratch.  Though each family is supposed to bring their own food especially for breakfasts and lunches, I think we’re taking enough for a small army.  We’ve got a huge container of cherries which everyone loves.  Tomorrow morning before we leave she’s going to make a rotini salad.  And we’re going to buy tomatoes, peaches, and corn from Overlook Market in Bridgewater.  Good eating, for sure!  She’s also done a couple loads of laundry.


One of the things I like best about Lynn is how hard working she is.  She rarely sits down and does nothing or just watch television.  She’s always doing some kind of work or activity.  Since today is Sunday, I found this quote from Proverbs 31 which describes her very well:

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

We did stick to our routine and got a morning walk in.  We did the usual 2.8 neighborhood walk.  The weather was fine, especially at the beginning, though it got hot by the time we were on the last half mile.


I found time today to listen to Central’s Sunday morning worship service via YouTube.  Actually I had a part in that service as I was asked to do a stewardship message and the congregational prayer.  Deborah Reed played the piano wonderfully on it.  She and Yi-Ping Chen are such gifted musicians.  I’m going to play some hymns for the August 2 service.  I’m sure my piano playing will make our members appreciate Deborah and Yi-Ping even more.


We’ve kept the television on CNN News most of the day.  It can be so depressing or enraging.  Many governors and mayors, like our federal administration, act like COVID-19 is nothing but a nuisance.  Betsy DeVos insists that kids need to be back in school full time and blasted Fairfax County in VA for offering kids an alternative to do online instead of in person education and the in person education will initially be only two days per week.  Yet the Fairfax County superintendent of schools pointed out that if the social distancing requirement is to be met, his buildings would need to be five times larger than they are in order to accommodate everyone at the same time.  Plus, he’d probably need five times the faculty.  A newspaper article in today’s Staunton newspaper pointed out that substitute teachers will likely be harder than ever to find this year.


Three of Ann and Josh’s kids, Henry, Gus, and Betsy, will be in middle or high school this year so if/when they go back to school they’ll just ride the bus home afterwards.  But there’s no bus that could take Freddie there from Clymore Elementary School so he’ll have to come here on days he attends.  Ann has said that she or Josh would try to meet the bus here every time so he wouldn’t have to come into our house after being in what could be an infectious environment at school.  We’ll just have to see how this plays out.


From ABC news today:  The Florida Department of Health reported 15,300 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, making it the highest one-day total for a state in the U.S. since the pandemic began. It is nearly 4,000 more new cases than the previous record, set by California on Wednesday with 11,694.


And where is the Republican National Convention going to be held?  In Jacksonville FL on August 24-27.  Good luck, attendees!


And here’s a sad story from Houston:  “I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”  Those were the final words of a 30-year-old patient who died at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio this week after attending a so-called “COVID party,” according to the hospital.  Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Children’s Hospital, said in a recorded statement that the unidentified patient told nurses about the party, which she said is hosted by someone diagnosed with coronavirus.  “The thought is people get together to see if the virus is real and if anyone gets infected,” Appleby said.


We got in our second walk of the day before supper for a change.  We weren’t that hungry because we had a huge snack mid-afternoon when each of us had a piece of our Smiley’s Ice Cream cake.  It rained late afternoon so when it cleared the temperature was nice so we walked our neighborhood walk again.  Our total for the day was 6.3 miles.  This hike had a repeat occurrence from one of our previous walks this month–a cow was seen in an unfenced lot near where the rest of the herd is fenced in.  Lynn again texted the owners to let them know.


After another good dinner, we packed Lynn’s car as much as we could.  A lot of what we’re taking is food and that will have to wait until tomorrow.  We have a busy morning planned before leaving for Avon Hill around noon.  Check in time is 2:00.


Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               13,022,407              571,000

US                       3,411,808              137,773

Virginia                  70,670                  1,966

Augusta County          208                         2


July 13, 2020

New coronavirus cases are on the rise in 37 states but not Virginia.  Even New York had zero deaths yesterday for the first time since the pandemic started. Meantime, Florida set a record for the number of cases in one state yet their Republican Governor claimed it was all due to increased testing.  The testing is still an issue as results take up to two weeks to come back in some cases.


Here’s a Betsy DeVos quote from yesterday:  “There is nothing in the data that suggests that kids being back in school is dangerous to them.”  How ridiculous!  A camp in Georgia had to close because 85 of its campers and counselors came down with the virus.  School aged children in many states have died due to complications of COVID-19.  How would schools be exempt from infections?


After breakfast we headed for the Green Valley Book Fair.  It was opened only by reservation and Lynn made reservations for both of us at its opening, 8:00 AM.   There were about 50 people who registered for that time, apparently, though we felt safe since you had to have a mask on to be admitted and the venue was a pavilion surrounded by the outside.  The stuff there was a little junky–there were no books.  Nonetheless we spent some money on some items we can give away for kids’ prizes at Avon Hill.


From the Book Fair, we drove to Overlook Produce to get tomatoes, peaches, and corn.  It was a successful trip as well.  So we came on home where Lynn fixed the rotini salad and finished packing her stuff while I did a trash run including stopping at Ann and Josh’s.


I had hoped to leave home at noon but Kay and family are coming to visit Mrs. Hanger and she won’t be here until after that then we’ll be making the stop at The Legacy.


We have one packed Toyota Rav4 for our Avon Hill vacation!


We got a later start than planned because Kay wanted to visit with her grandmother.  Everything worked out fine.  By 4:30 everyone was at Avon Hill enjoying its comforts.


It was a great day.  The kids swam then we ate a huge and delicious dinner.  After dinner some went swimming again and others relaxed.   In the meantime, I figured out how to hook my computer to the large screen television just in time to play our family version of  “America Says.”  It was great fun.


After a late night dessert that Ann had prepared, everyone was very tired.  A great start to our family vacation.  We do miss Jim’s family; perhaps next year….


Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               13,235,760              575,525

US                       3,479,483              138,247

Virginia                  71,642                  1,968

Augusta County          213                         2


Good night from Avon Hill!


July 14, 2020

This is our first full day at Avon Hill.  It started early after a late night.  I was up at 6:15 but was not the first up.  Betsy got up and took pictures of sunrise before I came down.  Once everyone was up, we ate breakfast then prepared to go tubing on the James River with an outfit called James River Runners.


I have a few confessions.  First, I did not come up with the idea of tubing.  Kay had suggested it and I had reservations about us doing it.  My reservations were primarily because I worried about the kids riding an innertube in a huge river which I assumed was a fast and deep river since it is one of Virginia’s main rivers.  I was completely wrong.  The river was 4′ deep at its deepest point.  It was very slow moving; the kids from time to time said they weren’t going anywhere.  And everyone had a good time except that the smallest got a little bored with it.  It was very relaxing and cool–a great thing to do on a hot day.  It was safe and a good family activity.


The way it worked is that we left our car keys with them and put everything of value in our cars.  They transported us via school bus three miles upstream then we drifted back to the home location where our cars were.  It all worked well.


My other confession is that I have a tendency to get very anxious and hard to be around any time there is a scheduled event and my group is running behind schedule.  We made a reservation with James River Runners last night; we were to be there at 9:30 and leave on their bus at 10:00.  I reminded our group all throughout breakfast that we needed to leave at 9:00 so we’d be there by 9:30.  The closer it got to 9:00 the more hard to live with I got and poor Lynn had to bear the brunt of my anxiety.  Fortunately, this is the only event of our entire vacation that had a definite starting time so I should be less anxious the rest of the time we’re here.


When we got back we had lunch then chilled at the Lodge until Lynn had the kids do a craft mid-afternoon.  She had purchased boards from Michael’s that had a rope on the end of them for hanging up.  Then she created stencils on her Criquet machine with each chld’s name.  The affixed the stencil to each board and brought paint for the kids to paint their name on their sign.  I thought it was a very good idea.  To make sure everything worked OK, she did two trial runs with our two grandchildren Faron and Coen who couldn’t come with us this vacation.  She cut the stencils for Faron and Coen then painted them on the boards.  She gave them to Jim when he came home to help me with the playground equipment last Friday.


I am so pleased that I discovered how easy it was to attach a HDMI cable to my laptop and to the huge television in the “Blue Room” in the lodge.  For much of the time, I set my screensaver to display random pictures from my picture album called 2019-2020 Favorites.  Since most of my favorites were pictures of my grandchildren, their pictures were displayed for everyone to see throughout our stay at Avon Hill.


The kids seemed to enjoy painting their names on the boards.  When they were finished, we decided to take a hike down to the Rockfish River to scope out fishing possibilities.  It turned out to be a long but pretty walk.  We took a wrong turn at one point and had to ramble through a thicket of weeds and briars.  Once we got back on the right trail it was very nice.  We discovered why this place is called Avon HILL, though.  It was quite a climb back up to the lodge from the river.


The kids were anxious to get back in the pool and can’t be blamed. It was hot and they rarely get to swim this summer thanks to COVID-19.  I haven’t been in a pool this entire summer so I decided to join them.  Boy, did it feel good!


After that refreshing dip in the pool, we returned to the lodge and fixed supper.  Tonight was grill night.  I grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  We had lots of other food including green beans, two pasta salads, tomato pie, and broccoli.


The past two days have been an oasis, an island.  It is as if there is no pandemic going on.  We haven’t watched the news nor talked much about it though the topic of school in the fall has come up often. We haven’t kept our social distance nor worn masks here at Avon Hill, of course.  We’ve just been family and it has been great.  I am SO glad we did this.


Today’s COVID-19 stats:

Infected                   Died

World               13,486,823              581,965

US                       3,546,278              139,162

Virginia                  72,443                  1,977

Augusta County          213                         2


The night activity was more family games.  Near sunset, the kids and I played can jam then they played hide-and-go-seek.  After dark, we did a game where one person tried to get his teammates to say a word with clues he gave.  Then we played a rousing game of reverse charades where all of the team acted out a word and one person on the team had to guess it.  Kay had brought this game along with her.  It was a great success.  We played boys versus girls.  I went to bed a worn out but extremely happy old man.


July 15, 2020

I was up at dawn after a good night’s sleep.  It gave me a chance to catch up on this blog and read a little about what’s going on in the world.  I had a full hour of quiet time by myself.


The weather on this vacation has been superb.  Yes, it has been hot, but we’ve been able to stay cool thanks to tubing on the James River, swimming in the pool at Avon Hill, and air conditioning at the lodge.  The highs have been in the high 80’s with mostly clear skies.  We are so lucky!


After breakfast, the first activity of the day was group pictures in our “Coronacation 2020” shirts Lynn had made for everyone.  It has certainly been a “coronacation” in which we’ve enjoyed each other’s company without worrying about or mixing with the outside world.  The pictures came out fine, I thought.


Today was fishing day.  We had brought along enough fishing gear for all the kids to fish and on our hike yesterday found some good places to fish on the Rockfish River.  There hasn’t been much rain late so the river isn’t very high.


None of us is an experience fisherman.  Ann and Josh had purchased some spinning reels for their kids but they didn’t come supplied with fishing line.  Henry and I tried to figure out how to install the line on the reel but ran out of time before dinner to get the job done.  Fortunately, Ann figured it out thanks to YouTube so we were ready when the morning came.


Fishing was OK but not the best of activities for us.  Poor Gus not only fell in the river but then got stung by a bee.  The only ones to catch a small fish were Andy, Thomas, and Georgia.  There were lots of tangled lines and lines caught in trees.  But it was shady and fun to watch the kids.  Henry and I stuck it out until 2:00 pm without catching anything.  We saw some really large fish which we later tentatively identified as gar.  But they weren’t biting today.


Lynn did a craft with the kids today making pens using clay.  We tried to do glow-in-the-dark bubbles tonight but that didn’t work as planned.


After fishing and lunch the kids watched a video while the grownups sat around and talked.  Then we all went swimming, which felt really good on a 90o day.  During that time we ordered pizza from a restaurant in Scottsville which Ann and Lynn picked up while the rest of us swam and played corn hole.  The pizza was quite good and we had plenty left over.


After dinner the kids did their scavenger hunt which I had made up for them.  Then we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores.  We ended the evening playing three more rounds of our family version of “America Says.”  There were lots of laughs and love in the room!  I am so, so thankful that we were able to get together as a family and just wish again that Jim and his family could have joined us.


Like the previous days here, I didn’t watch one minute of news so I don’t know what’s going on in the world.  I did look up the numbers for today and here they are:

Infected                   Died

World               13,691,627              586,821

US                       3,616,747              140,140

Virginia                  73,527                  1,992

Augusta County          218                         2


After we finished our last game tonight we took turns saying what we liked best about this vacation.  Here are some of the responses:  the pool, the sunsets on the porch, having the pictures displayed on the big screen television, the food, tubing, nature, the house, having the ground to ourselves, the closeness of Avon Hill to home, the property, and the activities like the games and crafts.  We are such lucky people to be able to share our lives with each other.  I feel especially blessed and thankful.


July 16, 2020

Lynn is currently driving home from Avon Hill and I’m in the passenger seat writing.  We’re both still on a high from having spent four days and three nights in an oasis-like setting surrounded by most of our family.  We’re also understandably down that it’s over now.


Of course, it took lots of time to pack and clean up before our 12:00 checkout time but we made it.  There was still time for Andy and Thomas to fish and the rest of the kids to go with me to the pool for one last swim.  The pool was really nice, especially for kids the ages of our grandchildren who swim well and like to do so.


I took nearly 400 photos at Avon Hill.  I’ll upload them to Flickr when we get home.  I may even go to Central UMC to do the job since Central’s connection is so fast and I have some work to do there.  I especially like the family pictures with everyone dressed in the “Coronocation” shirts Lynn made.


There were just a few things we didn’t like about Avon Hill.  The WIFI there was slow though it worked for most of what we wanted to do.  Streaming the movie for the kids wasn’t pretty, though.  A minor item is that there was no garbage disposal.  We would have liked to have had a basketball goal and a level field for kickball.  None of these items ruined our stay.  I think every one of us would enjoy coming back in the future.  Kay told me she liked it much better than Eden Resort.  The Lodge was so large that kids had plenty of places to themselves and so did the adults.


On our way home we experienced something we didn’t experience at all at Avon Hill–rain.  We’ve been so fortunate on our trips and vacations the last several years.


We were home at 1:15.  It took a little over an hour to get everything unloaded and put back in place.  Back to normal life now!


One of the first thing Lynn wanted to do was to see her mother.  Mrs. Hanger is now two weeks away from being 101 years old.  Last week was not a good week for her, health wise, so Lynn’s concern was very understandable.  But she reported that her mother was doing well.  She said she was sitting up, being alert and coherent, and seemed to be fine.  Great news.


While she did that, I went to Central UMC and uploaded my pictures to Flickr.  As I expected, it went very fast there, around 5 seconds per photo.  This made my day.  My pictures are my gold.  I’ll spend plenty of time watching them over and over again.

On the way home, Lynn did some quick shopping at Kroger in Staunton.  When we got home, I discovered something that upset me–the deer have been eating my tomato plants and tomatoes.  The tops of many of them have been chewed off and the nearly ready-to-pick tomatoes that were here before we went to Avon Hill are gone.  I have worked much harder than usual on the garden this year.  Before we left I saw no evidence of deer in it but today I could clearly see it.  So I constructed an emergency second fence around it made of stakes in the ground wrapped with fishing line.  I’ve heard from several people that this works.  We’ll see.  I had to rob fishing line off some of our old reels in order to find the line.  I was not happy doing this….


We heard from all of the children that they made it home safely so, indeed, we were blessed with this vacation.  Soon after we got home we texted Jim to see how he was doing and we set up a zoom session with him, Faron, and Coen this evening shortly after supper.  It worked well.  The boys are so talkative now.  It was really fun to listen to them.  As always, Jim is working his butt off with odd jobs for people.


Before the zoom session we found time to take a two mile hike.  Lynn managed to keep up her walking at Avon Hill, walking frequently with Kay.  But I slacked off a little, getting in 3.0 miles on Monday, 2.8 on Tuesday, 3.0 on Wednesday, and 4.8 today.


As we were winding down the zoom meeting with Jim and family, the entire Gutshall family came in.  They had asked if they could come over and watch Hamilton at our house since we have a good internet connection and a Disney+ subscription.  There was some of Lynn’s amazing Coca-Cola Cake left over from the Avon Hill trip which worked great for a dessert for all of us.


We heard yesterday that there will be no high school football in Virginia this fall.  The hope is that there will be a winter sports schedule, followed by an abbreviated fall schedule in February – April, then a shortened spring sports schedule.  It all depends on a vaccine, of course.


Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               13,935,938              591,935

US                       3,693,694              141,095

Virginia                  74,431                  2,007

Augusta County          219                         2


So Virginia has topped 2,000 deaths.  The US doesn’t show any signs of slowing down its infection rate–every day there are over 1,000 new deaths from it.  I guess we’re back to the real world now.


July 17, 2020

Yes, we were back in the real world today.  Turns out, it didn’t change much while we were on vacation.  No news on a vaccine.  More news about record infections.  More ambiguity about schools opening in the fall.  Lots of sunshine and heat.  Walking twice in one day again.

After breakfast, I had to go to Augusta Health for a blood test.  This is because I have an appointment in two weeks with Dr. Gillock at Blue Ridge Urology.  I had to get my PSA level tested which involves a blood test.  I was apprehensive about going to the hospital but the process was very safe.  My temperature was checked as I entered the building.  They called down to the laboratory to make sure there was room in the waiting room which there was.  I only had to wait a few minutes to get registered and even less to get tested.  In about ten minutes I was back in the car on the way home.


The news today is the usual:

  • There were a record number of new cases in the US today, 77,000 new cases for the second day in a row. This is more than three times what it was just a month ago.  Texas had 174 fatalities in one day, the third day in a row of record deaths.  Staffing shortages exist in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
  • The mask debate goes on. Thirty states have a mask mandate.  Some governors still refuse to enact a mandate.
  • The school debate also rages. California just decided to NOT open schools until the infections drop for fourteen straight days.  The CDC is coming out with additional guidelines about school opening but they have decided to delay releasing it until the end of July.  And get this–the White House blocked Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from testifying before Congress next week on how to reopen schools safely.
  • Testing is a mess. People in some cities wait for hours and hours on testing.  In Florida, it takes up to 18 days to get back the results of a test.


As soon as I got back Lynn and I took a morning two mile walk.  She didn’t have a lot of time because she had to help her mother with lunch today.  Fortunately, her mom was doing fine today.  While she was there, I tried to find out information from Verizon on getting her a new phone because hers has been nothing but trouble lately.  For example, there have been times when I’ve stood right beside her, called her, and her phone wouldn’t even ring.  Yet it would go to Voicemail which she would get.  We had her phone exchanged and even after that this happened.  With her birthday coming up next week, I decided to move on getting a new one for her.


It wasn’t a pleasant experience.  The Verizon Wireless website was no help.  I tried an online chat with a representative who apparently didn’t understand me (or English) very well.  I gave up and made an appointment at the local Verizon store.  Then I called Lynn and asked her to go with me.  The phone won’t be a surprise for her birthday but it is much needed.


We ended up getting her an iPhone SE.  It is basically the iPhone 11 in an iPhone 8 case.  We paid for it and brought it home though we’re not going to activate it until a protective case for it comes next week from Amazon.


We didn’t do much else in the afternoon.  We did make a trip to Overlook Market to buy some tomatoes and a peach pie.  Lynn also bought some groceries at Aldi.  No surprise, she also did lots of laundry today after our trip.


After dinner this evening, we went to Gypsy Hill Park and walked our usual two laps.  For the day, my iPhone health app said I’d walked 5.9 miles.  The next week is supposed to be one with higher temperatures and high humidity.  I’m not looking forward to walking then.  Even this evening the temperature was near 90o when we left for Gypsy Hill Park.


Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               14,175,994              598,446

US                       3,766,605              141,976

Virginia                  75,433                  2,013

Augusta County          221                         2


Harrisonburg now has over 1,000 cases.  That means that one out of every fifty people you see in Harrisonburg has been infected.


July 18, 2020


The next several days are supposed to be extremely hot with highs in the mid to upper 90’s and high humidity.  We were smart enough to walk early today, getting two miles under our belts before 8:30 AM.   Charlottesville has already reported a record of 23 consecutive days of 90o or higher with predictions for the next seven days to keep that record going.


Lynn and I have already started talking about going somewhere in August.  We just haven’t decided when or where.  We both like having something to look forward to and plan for.


Lynn had her friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright over this morning for an outside, socially-distant get-together.  They would have liked to have gone garage sale shopping but since they can’t ride in the same vehicle they decided to just stay home and chat.


I worked on my pictures today, making backups of the Avon Hill photos and picking out my favorites from those 400 pictures to add to my folder called 2019-20 Favorites.  I could spend hours and hours watching those pictures.


Lynn got an offer by mail that I decided to take.  When we were at Avon Hill I enjoyed listening to SiriusXM which the Lodge had in each room.  The mail offer was that for $5 a month for a year she could reinstate SiriusXM on her car’s radio, which we had let expire, and also add it to the Alexa devices in our home.  Plus they gave us a free Amazon Echo Dot.  I like listening to the country music channels and am doing so right now as I write this.  The key to this deal is to cancel it mid-July 2021 else the monthly fee jumps to $22.  I put a reminder on our calendar for July 15 to cancel it.  It took a while to get it all set up on the Alexa devices but everything is fine now.


With nothing else to do and things we needed from the store, we opted to go to Costco this afternoon.  Lynn has gone several times in the past few months and told me it was always safe.  Today it was very, very busy and I would not have rated it as super safe.  There were just too many people under one roof.


After a very good dinner featuring tomato pie and a zucchini casserole we had some of the peach pie we had purchased from Overlook Market.  Yum!  After all that eating we had to walk to work off some of the calories so we did the 2.8 mile hike around our neighborhood despite 90o temperature.  Fortunately, there was a huge cloud in the sky which hid the sun.  Our total for the day was 5.6 miles.  Not bad for two old people on a very hot night!


Here are today’s stats:

Infected                   Died

World               14,407,642              604,103

US                       3,831,679              142,861

Virginia                  76,373                  2,025

Augusta County          225                         2


July 19, 2020

Last night after I had showered I noticed a bump on my left heel.  Lynn confirmed that it was a tick.  She pulled it out with tweezers and put hydrogen peroxide and an antibiotic cream on it.  Naturally this worried me but this morning when I read more about Lyme Disease I learned that not all ticks carry it and even if I do get infected it is easily treated with drugs like amoxicillin.  I have to wait a week and see if I get a tell-tale rash where the bite occurred.


We watched a Netflix movie, How Do You Know, before falling asleep.  We’ve now watched five or six movies since this pandemic started. None of them have been that good.  The movie industry has been shut down by COVID-19.  We can only hope that when they resume business the quality of the movies they produce is better than what we’ve watched on Netflix.


To beat the heat we walked our 2.8 mile route in the neighborhood.  It was nice when we left home but by the time we got back it was 83o.  In general, though, it was a pleasant walk.  It may very well be the only walk we’ll get in today due to the heat and a Covenant Group meeting we have this evening at the Bauman’s.


There were deer footprints in my garden again today.  It rained last night so the footprints were fresh.  One of my fishing line posts was bent over, too.  I fixed it back and even suspended a wind chime where it had entered hoping this would deter future visits.  We have lots of tomatoes coming if they will just have a chance to grow before the deer eats them and destroys the plants.


It was just too darned hot to do anything this afternoon.   We made a quick trip to the Gutshall’s to drop off some items of theirs from our house.  But after that we just took it easy.  Lynn even took a nap, something she almost never does.  I enjoyed our new SiriusXM radio by listening to a country station while working puzzles.


My brother Butch is having it awfully tough now.  He spends most of his days in Columbus visiting Ann whose progress has been very slow.  Today he found out that she will likely be moved to a skilled nursing facility soon.  The downfall there is that, due to COVID-19, they do not allow any visitors unlike the hospital where he is allowed to visit her daily.


I am a very, very poor reader.  My reading skills are fine but my reading desire is low.  You will never find me at the library unless I need Wifi.  But actually I just bought a book on Amazon and started reading it today.  It is The Language of God by Francis S. Collins.  Francis Collins is the head of the Human Genome Project and one of the world’s leading scientists. He is Dr. Fauci’s boss.  Interestingly, he is from Staunton and is a graduate of Lynn’s high school, Robert E. Lee High.  His book lays out the argument for God and science co-existing.  I’m sure I will agree with much he has to say.


Here are some very different news story titles from ABC news:

  • New York state COVID hospitalizations hit new low, says Cuomo
  • South Carolina sees new daily case record
  • Florida reports another 12,000-plus new cases
  • COVID-19 ‘more rampant in Louisiana now than it has ever been,’ governor warns
  • US death count rises 19%
  • 19 states set single-day high this week
  • 25 million Iranians infected, president says (this one is bizarre since there are about 15 million worldwide reported as infected including nearly 4 million in the US)


Tonight was Covenant Group.  There were eight of us who met at the Bauman’s.  We just chatted the whole time, primarily about COVID-19 and its issues.  We all get along well so it was good conversation.


We got home a little past 9:00.  It was not quite dark and we didn’t have our 10,000 steps in so we grabbed a flashlight and took a late night walk.  This was the first time we’ve done that.  We just walked up to Mt. Pisgah UMC but even that walk was eventful.  First we saw Denise Michael and asked her about her parents.  Then when we got to the church, there were two vehicles there, one with a flat tire.  We helped the people there some until more help came so we walked on home.  We did get our steps in–4.7 miles in all.


Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               14,640,375              608,857

US                       3,898,550              143,289

Virginia                  77,430                  2,027

Augusta County          226                         2


July 20, 2020

I began writing this blog three months ago on April 20, 2020.  At that time, we had been isolated in our homes for over a month.  So we’re now well past four months of this pandemic.  Things are very much the same as they were in April except the spread of COVID-19 has been greatly extended.  The world has six times more cases than it did on that date.  The United States has five times more cases and over three times more deaths.  Virginia has more than eight times as many cases and over six times as many deaths.  Augusta County has ten times more cases and has had two deaths compared to zero in April.


Reuters news reported today “Throughout the United States, every metric to measure the outbreak is going in the wrong direction – rising cases, deaths, hospitalizations and positivity rates of test results. Despite record levels of new cases nationwide, the Trump administration is pushing for schools to reopen in a few weeks and resisting a federal mandate to wear masks in public. Trump, who faces a tough battle for re-election in November, defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in an interview broadcast on Sunday. The United States, with 3.7 million total cases, has almost as many infections as the next three hardest-hit countries combined – Brazil, India and Russia.”


There is some news of hope this morning.  A vaccine being developed in Oxford England has shown good promise in stopping COVID-19.  So far, it shows that those who took it developed both antibodies and T-cells that fight the virus.  And it appears safe.  Researchers there say it may be available in a few months but, realistically, it will be 2021 before it is available to the masses.  There are several other vaccines being tested but this is the first that has had such good results.  Let’s all hope this is what we’ve been looking for….


Today was counting day at Central UMC.  Sam Richardson and I counted the few checks that had been received and deposited them in the bank.  Afterwards, I met Lynn at Gypsy Hill Park where we walked two laps.  For most of the way, we walked with Johnny Sayers and had good conversation with him.  Having a vibrant conversation definitely makes the walk go faster.  Lynn and I are good talkers with each other but when you’re with a person 24/7 it is hard to then chat non-stop when you’re walking.


It was also Food Bank pickup day for me so after lunch I took my truck to transport 660 pounds of food from the Verona Food Bank to Central UMC.  It went as planned.


Thirty nine states, including Virginia, reported today an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.  The stupid Governor of Missouri said “if they do get COVID-19, which they will, they are not going to hospitals.  They’re going to go home and get over it.”  Does he think they will be home by themselves?


Along that line, the largest teachers union in Florida sued Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday over his administration’s push to fully reopen all public schools next month — even as the number of coronavirus cases in the state is spiking.


Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               14,838,095              612,422

US                       3,959,612              143,760

Virginia                  78,375                  2,031

Augusta County          227                         2


Lynn cut my hair again tonight.  It was getting way too long for me.  I think she does a fine job.  She’s getting her hair cut tomorrow.  No, I’m not cutting it!


I spent some time again today reading The Language of God.  Parts of it are quite deep and tough to read.  But the message is clear that science and religion are complementary.  Our Covenant Group may be reading and discussing this book.  Collins is a very, very brilliant man.  Thus, his writing is considerably above what I usually read.


The big news in our family today is that we have a new driver in the family.  Henry passed his test and now has a Learner’s Permit.  I think of him as being very responsible.  I think he will be a fine driver.


We had to wait until a storm passed, but Lynn and I managed to get in a second walk tonight after dinner.  It was still hot but we walked the 2.8 mile hike.  Our total for the day was over six miles.


July 21, 2020

From ABC news this morning:  There are more than 57,000 new cases in the US with 40 states seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases including Virginia.  39 states report an increase in hospitalizations including Virginia.  But the news also reported optimism regarding two possible vaccines.  It seems that we’ve just got to hold tight until early 2021.  That won’t be easy!


The temperature was still in the 70’s when we took our morning walk.  It was sunny so even though the temperature wasn’t that overbearing it was still hot.  It is surprising how much hotter the direct sun makes you feel regardless of the temperature.  Sometimes when we walk and enter shade it seems to be 10o cooler.


Today was one of the most boring days I’ve had during the pandemic.  I didn’t really have any work project to do and I did none!  I rode with Lynn to get some tomatoes at Overlook Produce and chatted with Ann and family when they stopped by to drop off Gus’ PS4 for an overnight update using our Wifi.


The issue of school is still a hot one.  Augusta County Schools are having students come two days per week and doing the rest virtually.  We don’t know which two days the Gutshall kids will be going but have been told that they would all be going the same days.  Lynn and I still think it is possible that Governor Northram will cancel school for the first six weeks or so because even here in Virginia the number of COVID-19 cases is rising.  Some of the worst outbreaks in the country have been from institutional gatherings such as churches.  It seems like school would just be a breeding ground for the virus.


The only excitement for me today was that while Lynn and I were talking to Jim on my iPhone, I was washing dishes.  I set my phone on the counter with it on speaker so both of us could hear.  Lynn accidentally hit something which bounced down and knocked my phone in the dishpan which was full of soapy water.  I fumbled to get it out and was surprised that when I got it Jim was still there though the volume was lower.  We called Jim back on her phone and put mine in a bag of rice.  I’m happy to report that it seems to work fine now.  Whew!


Lynn and I are considering a day trip sometime soon to a park or somewhere we haven’t been so we can walk.  She doesn’t want to go far away from her mother at this time.  She visited with her mom this afternoon who was doing OK although she had not had a good morning.  Only nine more days before she turns 101!


We both watch the news throughout the day both on ABC and CNN.  She watches lots of game shows.  When she leaves to visit her Mom, I usually turn the television off because I like quiet whereas she likes noise.


Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               15,083,266              618,438

US                       4,028,014              144,937

Virginia                  79,371                  2,048

Augusta County          227                         2


Virginia’s infections were right at 1,000 more than the previous day.  The CDC today said that the number actually infected is likely from 6 to 24 times the number reported.  If that’s the case, then the US could have 40 million or more who have been infected!  The population of the US is about 330 million.  So one out of eight Americans has already had it????


We were able to get a second walk in between storms and ended up with 6.5 miles for the day.  Not bad for two old people!


July 22, 2020

My beliefs that my iPhone has survived the dip into the dishwater have been up and down.  Last night it would turn on and off but I couldn’t get it to charge.  This morning I made an appointment at the local Verizon Wireless store to possibly have it replaced.  I was especially worried that I couldn’t get it to backup to my computer.  Then I fiddled more with it, scraping out the charging port and blowing air from an air canister into it.  It worked!  I was able to get it backed up and now it is charging as always.  I gladly canceled the VZ appointment.


Tonight is our family Zoom night.  We’ve invited Ann’s family over so use our Verizon connection to zoom and eat dessert.  We need to empty out our freezer space because on Friday we’ll be picking up Lynn’s big ice cream cake for her birthday.


We played it smart again by walking our 2.8 mile route before it got unbearable outside.  On our walk we ran into two cows outside their pasture.  Lynn and I were able to get the calf back in by opening the gate and shooing it back in but the full sized one is still in an adjacent field.  We notified two people about it and feel like that’s the best we can do.


You know it’s a boring day for me when I read.  I read more of The Language of God today.  It rained this afternoon though I did manage to get in a run to the dump, including a stop to get Ann and Josh’s trash, before the rain came.


Lynn had a busier day.  She visited with her mom, had an hour long conversation with the student she tutors, had a Zoom meeting as part of Central UMC’s Staff Parish Relations Committee, and translated a document for Rockingham County Public Schools.  She makes me look lazy.


In the news tonight, the US had over 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours for the first time in two weeks.  California has over 12,000 new cases, passing New York in the number of infections.  60% of cases in Los Angeles are among young adults.  Even Trump encouraged Americans to wear masks and told younger people to avoid packed bars.  Nine states set records for hospitalizations.  A new study about antibodies that infected people developed said that they wore off after just 90 days.


Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               15,341,187              625,073

US                       4,093,662              146,042

Virginia                  80,393                  2,051

Augusta County          230                         2

Another thousand new cases in Virginia.


Tonight was Zoom night but it didn’t work out.  First, Kay called us to say that Arlington had been hit by a terrible storm and they had lost power.  Even their cell towers were out; she called from her car on the way into her office.  And Jim apparently didn’t get the message.  The Gutshall family came over to our house for ice cream cake instead.


Henry drove them.  He should be a fine driver.  He is a smart, responsible young man.


Our walking total for the day wasn’t as good as some days, 5.2 miles.  At least we exceeded 10,000 steps.


July 23, 2020

I am really bummed out over my tomato plants.  I tilled the garden, planted twenty tomato plants, and spent lots of time weeding and tying up the plants.  I watered them on occasion.  They were a little slow coming along but before we went to Avon Hill there were probably 60 small tomatoes ripening.  This morning there are virtually none.  The deer have eaten the tops off of nearly every plant as well as any tomato larger than a golf ball.  I have never seen the deer in the garden but there are tracks throughout it.  Plus we see the deer in the fields adjacent to our house.  We even had one tomato plant at the bottom of our back steps that had its top eaten off.  This is infuriating to me.  I’m ready to give up trying to garden at all.


After sitting around most of the morning doing nothing productive I decided to haul the clothes line poles to the dump in Greenville.  This was no small task because both were loaded with concrete at their bases, about 15″ x 20″.  There is no way I could pick either of them up but I could roll them using the horizontal clothes line poles as a turning wheel.  I pulled my trailer near to the tennis court, aimed downhill, and rolled the poles, one at a time, onto the trailer.  Then I secured them down and took them to the dump.  I had previously called the landfill because I needed to be told what to do with them once I got there.  Every other time I’ve taken trash there you have to transfer your trash into one of their bins which means lifting it.  I was told to take the load directly to the landfill and roll them off, which I did.  The entire operation only took about two hours.  I feel better about getting something worthwhile done today.


When I got back home Lynn was in the middle of a Facetime session with Jim, Faron, and Coen.  That was a great time to come back!  I enjoyed talking and listening to those three for a while.  The little boys are very talkative.


Lynn’s early birthday present was a new iPhone which we picked up last week but didn’t activate until today when her protective case arrived.  I spent a good bit of time getting it activated, restoring the settings from a backup of her previous phone, and transferring all of the music we own to it.  Her iPhone 6 was giving her fits; I hope this new iPhone SE will work much better.  So far, so good.


Setting up her phone using the MacBook wasn’t easy because it has such a small hard drive that it can’t hold all of our music.  I really miss having a desktop iMac with a large hard drive.  Maybe next month we can get our dead iMac replaced.


Gosh, Trump even canceled the GOP’s national convention at Jacksonville FL this afternoon due to all of the COVID-19 infections in Florida.  That’s an about face for him.  He even said some school districts should wait to re-open, another reversal.  Maybe he’s FINALLY seeing how serious this is, four months in.


The last three or more days have been in a pattern where there are strong afternoon thunderstorms, some of which have heavy rain.  It rained most of the afternoon and evening today though not always heavy.  This makes it hard for Lynn and me to walk.  At least the storms have brought the temperatures down.  But we only got in one walk for a little over two miles all day long.


We met Ann and Wes Ford at Smiley’s Ice Cream tonight.  For a change, I did not have salted caramel chocolate chunk.  Their flavor of the month is peach so I gave it a try.  It was good, of course, but next time I’ll likely return to my usual.  While we were there we got a phone call from Kay saying that a water pipe on the third floor of their home had burst and left water all over.  The ceiling in one room had to be taken down.  There were four men working at her house when we called.  Yuck!


She said that as much as this upset her, she remembered one of my sayings:  if a problem can be fixed with money then it isn’t that big of a problem.  That helped her deal with this.  Indeed, even when my iPhone was dropped in the dishwater night before last I told Lynn that there were two kinds of problems:  ones that can be fixed and ones which can’t.  Both my phone and her ceiling are problems that can be fixed.  There are so many things in life that can’t be reversed or fixed.  If anything, we are lucky that our problems fall into the fixable category right now.


Certainly losing someone to COVID-19 is an example of a problem that can’t be fixed.  So, so many Americans have had to deal with this.  Look at these numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               15,650,440              636,384

US                       4,169,991              147,333

Virginia                  81,237                  2,054

Augusta County          233                         2


The US lost over 1,250 to coronavirus in one day.  Virginia had almost 1,000 new cases.


July 24, 2020

Today was just like 90% of the previous summer days:  hot, rain chances throughout the afternoon, and boring.  We did manage to get in a three mile walk in the morning before the temperatures got much above 80o.  Lynn went in to see her mom, as usual, and I cleaned up some blocks, rocks, and leftover wood from our Pergola project.


More bad news from CNN news:

The US on Thursday surpassed 4 million officially recorded Covid-19 cases — and a quarter of that count came in just the last 15 days.  The country’s rising daily rate of confirmed coronavirus cases, along with a near-record number of hospitalizations, signals the US is far from containing a virus that is straining hospitals and labs, health experts say.  “We’ve rolled back essentially two months’ worth of progress with what we’re seeing in number of cases … in the United States,” Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health, told CNN on Thursday.  About 59,600 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in the US on Wednesday — roughly 300 short of the country’s peak recorded in mid-April, according to the Covid Tracking Project.  The reported count is picking up speed: The national seven-day average of new daily cases was 67,429 on Wednesday, a record.  The spread has promised a bleak outlook for the months ahead, according to both health officials and President Trump.   What comes next is unclear: With now at least 41 states requiring face coverings, some have said strict measures like limiting gatherings and enforcing social distancing and masks can be as impactful as another lockdown. But others aren’t as hopeful.   “Masks will help, but I think we need a lot more than masks to contain this epidemic that’s running through our country like a freight train,” said William Haseltine, the chair and president of global health think tank ACCESS Health International.  “Until we see major changes of behavior and until we see the public health services here stepping forward with many more resources, we aren’t sure of containing this.”  Many are calling for a reset: shut everything down again and start over. More than 150 prominent US medical experts, scientists, teachers, nurses and others have signed a letter to political leaders urging them do just that.  “The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible,” they wrote in the document, which was sent to the Trump administration, leading members of Congress and state governors. “Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but nonessential activities.”


Yet there is still a call to get kids back in school.  Again from CNN news:

Still, the CDC spoke out strongly about the need to reopen schools, albeit in communities without substantial, uncontrolled transmission of the virus.  “It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement announcing the updates.  In new guidelines issued Thursday, the CDC said children suffer from not being in school, and they don’t suffer much from the virus and are less likely to spread it than adults.  “(The) United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths,” as of July 17, the statement said.


Personally, I think the CDC said this just because Trump insisted that they revise their guidelines.


More news:  There are over 1,000 deaths three days in a row, says the CDC.  There were record fatalities in seven states.  Dr. Fauci said that states with high infections should return to shelter-in-place.  He said he wouldn’t eat at a restaurant or ride an airplane.


In the afternoon we drove to Overlook Market to get some more tomatoes then stopped by Smiley’s to pick up Lynn’s birthday ice cream cake.  Of course, it was Death by Chocolate.


After a fine dinner of squash casserole and BLT sandwiches, we decided to walk again.  The weather forecast in Mount Sidney was fine so we decided to go to Gypsy Hill Park to walk.  Though the two aren’t far away, the weather was different in Staunton.  We managed to make only one lap as it started raining.  I got pretty soaked but, thankfully, we had an umbrella for Lynn.  We stopped in Verona on the way back and walked again at the Augusta County park there.  For the day we got about 5.7 miles in.


A survey on ABC news said only 44% of parents want their children to return to school.  Here are today’s numbers:

Infected                   Died

World               15,927,969              641,800

US                       4,246,447              148,429

Virginia                  82,364                  2,067

Augusta County          236                         3

In addition to over 1,000 deaths in the past 24 hours in the US, Virginia has more than 1,000 new cases and 13 additional deaths.  Augusta County recorded its 3rd death.


July 25, 2020

Today is Lynn’s 68th birthday.  I should be the one celebrating because being married to her has been the highlight of my life.  Everything I value at this point in my life has come because of her.  I spent time this morning looking at my photos as I waited for Ann and family to come over to see Betsy’s dancing in the Valley Dance Theatre production which was live streamed.  As I looked at photo after photo, it was apparent to me that 99% of those pictures were taken with her either in the pictures or with me when I took them.  Where would I be now if it were not for her?  I don’t want to even think about it.  Rather, I’ll just enjoy the fact that 68 years ago her parents gave birth to a baby girl who was going to spend most of her life with me.  Again, I’m the one celebrating.


For her birthday she got the new iPhone SE.  Also, I got her something she had asked for–an online subscription to the New York Times.  Many Facebook posts are from the NY Times but you need a subscription to read the entire post.  Now she can.


Kay called her this morning.  She was in surprising good spirits with a home torn up due to the water damage from the burst pipe.  Thomas and Georgia had just competed in a swim meet.  Jim called this evening.  He wasn’t in as good of spirits as Coen had awoken at 3:00 AM this morning and had no interest in going back to sleep.  By this evening both of them were exhausted and not in the best of moods.  Ann and her family came over this morning because Betsy’s dance recital was streamed and they thought our internet would work better.  Frankly, it didn’t work very well; we were able to view only two of Betsy’s four dances.


We walked our three mile walk this morning while the temperature was still in the 70’s.  It was a beautiful morning with nothing but blue skies.  By the time we finished it had gotten rather warm.


Lynn had a pickup at Walmart this morning, mostly of ice cream novelties she bought for her mother’s party which will be on Thursday.  She was able to take them directly from Walmart to her mother’s freezer so now they’re all ready for the party.  And she was able to help her mother with lunch, as usual.  She reported to me that Mrs. Hanger was doing OK today.  Only five more days until she turns 101!


Today was hot but not too hot for me to mow.  I am glad to have gotten it done; otherwise, I would have felt lazy again.  The temperature was 86 when Lynn and I got out of the car this afternoon at Gypsy Hill Park and 86 when we got back in.  Between, we walked two laps, around 2.5 miles, and netted right at six miles for the day.  Gypsy Hill has some shade, perhaps about 50% at this time of the day.


While we were in Staunton, we ordered our dinner from Chicano Boy.  This is what Lynn requested for her birthday dinner.  It was great, as always.  We each got the pork salad, of which we ate half and saved the rest for tomorrow.  We split an ear of corn and one of the two “supreme” potatoes we bought.  We’ll be fixed up for dinner tomorrow night, too.


After dinner, Ann’s family came over to help celebrate her birthday and have a piece of her ice cream cake from Smiley’s.  The cake is huge!


Lynn has so many friends, both in person and on Facebook.  She got well over 100 birthday wishes today on Facebook.  They came from former colleagues, high school classmates, neighbors, former students, some family members, and many others.  She is a special lady!


Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,163,755              647,059

US                       4,308,876              149,320

Virginia                  83,609                  2,075

Augusta County          238                         3


Florida passed New York for the number of infections.  California has more than either.  Note that Virginia’s total is 1,250 more than the previous day.  Not good!


July 26, 2020

The news today is that we’ve now had five straight days of 1,000 or more deaths due to COVID-19.  Some cities have a real shortage of medical personnel.


Today was another slow day.  The weather was typical:  mild early on, then hot, then rain, then hot again.  We got in three miles before it got to the mid and high 80’s.  After that, our accomplishments for the day were limited.  Lynn did help her mother with lunch, shopped at Aldi’s, made blueberry jam, and used her Cricut machine to label two stainless steel hydration bottles she had purchased for a friend and her sister.  I did my monthly weed-whacking and moved some dirt to fill up a hole in the back yard.  Also I viewed our church’s online service for today.  That’s about it for the day.


This will be the shortest post since I’ve started writing back in April.  But, frankly, there’s nothing new to write about.  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,395,400              651,554

US                       4,366,042              149,773

Virginia                  84,567                  2,078

Augusta County          239                         3

We went to bed early to watch a movie.  We watched 5 Flights Up.  I’ve mentioned before that the Netflix movies we’ve watched have not been worth watching.   This one was an exception–it was very good.


July 27, 2020

Today is Kay’s 40th birthday.  It’s hard to believe it has been forty years!  She is having to deal with a house torn up by a water break and childcare while she and Andy continue to work.  As would be expected, she’s got it all in hand.  What a capable young lady!  Notice I said that 40 is young.


On the news this morning is that a Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine testing is starting today on 30,000 people.  Experts are still saying it will be late this year or early 2021 before the masses could get this vaccine from Moderna.  But the news also says that once again there are many places where the virus is uncontrolled.


Unlike the previous several days, today we both had several things scheduled.  In fact, our day was so busy that we didn’t even get in a morning walk.  Mine began at Central UMC where it was my turn to make the weekly bank deposit.  After I had finished, I went to the sanctuary and recorded the three songs I had selected for this coming Sunday’s morning worship.  I wasn’t particularly pleased with the sound quality of the recordings but I eventually decided that this was due to my lack of playing skill.  I just do not play anything smoothly–I tend to bang somewhat.  I guess I developed this habit as a teenager in a rock band and have kept it all these years.  I wish I could play smoothly and elegantly.  Instead, my recordings come across as being rough and loud at times.  At least I was able to record each with a maximum of one false start and I didn’t noticeably play any wrong notes.  I was also able to take advantage of Central’s fast internet service so I got them uploaded to be shared with our music director who puts together all of the separate video recordings to make our Sunday morning worship service.


Another thing I got done this morning was to make an appointment at Carillion in Fort Defiance for this afternoon.  I have been keeping my eye on the tick bite I got almost two weeks ago.  It is not getting any better.  It doesn’t appear to be any worse and though I don’t have any symptoms of Lyme disease yet I don’t want to wait on them to appear.  I tried to make an appointment with my family physician, Dr. LaGrua, but he is on vacation so instead I saw a new doctor there, Dr. Cavender.  He said he didn’t think I was showing the symptoms of Lyme disease but that the bite was somewhat infected.  So he prescribed for me a med, doxycycline, for the infection but told me that this was the same drug he’d be prescribing for me if I were showing Lyme disease issues. So, as he put it, I’d be getting a two-for-one.  If indeed I am getting Lyme disease this drug will be the antidote.  Otherwise, it will be the treatment for the bug bite.  He was a young doctor, probably not even 30 yet, but I liked him and trusted his advice.  I only take it for five days.


Lynn and I ate well again tonight.  She cooked a prime rib roast and I cooked baked potatoes.  She also made a squash dish.  For dessert, we made a quick run to Smiley’s.  Yum!


Today is the first day in a while that I didn’t get my 10,000 steps in.  We did go to Gypsy Hill Park tonight and walked two laps, approximately 2.4 miles, but that’s about all I got in.  It was hot again tonight, about 85o when we started walking.


The news tonight is the same as always.  Here are the statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               16,635,306              656,080

US                       4,433,372              150,444

Virginia                  86,072                  2,082

Augusta County          243                         3

Virginia’s number of infections soared almost 1,500 higher in the past 24 hours.  That’s not good.  The WHO says coronavirus cases have roughly doubled worldwide in the last six weeks.  Over 25% of the world’s infections are in the US.


July 28, 2020

We had a significant, but not good, event at our house today.  Lynn fell coming out of the bathroom and got hurt.  She has a broken foot, very bruised thigh, and sore arm.  She put up with the pain during the morning but after lunch went to Augusta Health Urgent Care in Weyers Cave where they x-rayed her foot.  This is Lynn’s first broken bone ever!  She will see an orthopedic doctor next week.


They put her foot in a boot.  She can hobble around since they did not give her crutches but she is obviously in pain.  Poor Lynn!  She has to prop her foot up when she sits.  Her arm and thigh also hurt but not as much as the foot.  She broke the 5th metatarsal.  The doctor who read her x-ray said she would not need surgery, which is good news, but it will take at least six weeks for it to heal.  She won’t see the orthopedic doctor until the swelling has gone down.


Before she fell, we had walked three miles and had a busy day planned.  I had two church meetings via Zoom, a Finance Committee meeting and a Church Council meeting.  Plus, I had some questions about the financial report that our new administrative assistant had produced so I was on the phone with her for a long time in the morning, including when Lynn fell.  I didn’t hear her fall and she couldn’t understand why not.


In the meantime, she had invited a friend of hers, Carol Mitchell, and her husband Shawn to join us in our backyard with a take-out dinner.  Lynn and Carol were born on exactly the same day in the same hospital so they have been friends for 68 years.  To help celebrate, she had ordered an ice cream cake from (can you guess? ) Smiley’s.  It was ready this afternoon so she drove to pick it up but by then the pain from her fall was so great that she asked them to bring it out to her car, which they did.  When she got back home, I was between church meetings so we agreed it would be best for her to go to the Augusta Health Urgent Care office in Weyers Cave and have it x-rayed.  Before I was through with the second meeting she knew the story.


I drove to the Urgent Care office to pick her up since she would have had a hard time driving with a boot on.  Later Ann took me back to pick up car which we had left there.


Our way of life has suddenly been changed.  We’ve spent two hours each day walking for months.  That won’t be the case for at least six more weeks now.  I’m not sure if I’ll walk by myself or not.  My body will need the exercise but it won’t be enjoyable without her.


I made a trip to Valley Pike to order then pick up our take-out dinner.  We love the hamburgers at the Old Schoolhouse food truck there.  I made it back just in time to get everything set up for dinner outside under the Pergola before the Mitchells arrived.


Lynn had made some wine coolers which we enjoyed at first.  Then we discovered an embarrassing fact–the Mitchell’s had not picked up any food for dinner.  Perhaps they were expecting us to provide it whereas we thought the deal was for both couples to bring their own food.  At any rate, Lynn and I quickly decided not to eat our hamburgers.  Instead, the four of us had birthday cake for dinner!  It was Death by Chocolate, of course.


On television tonight is an ABC show we watched about COVID-19.  It described how we got to where we are now in the US.  We heard Trump say on January 22 that “we have the situation completely under control.  There is just one person infected and we have it under control.”  The show described how previous Presidents, beginning with George Bush in 2005, laid out a framework for how to deal with pandemics.  The Obama administration had to deal with the Ebola outbreak, for example.  He set up a pandemic prevention office to deal with any future outbreak.  The Trump administration did away with this office in 2018.  There was even a plan left from the Obama administration on how to deal with a pandemic such as a coronavirus outbreak but this plan was not followed by Trump.  In other words, the blame for this outbreak largely rests on Donald Trump’s shoulders.


Trump did ban travel to/from China on February 1.  But it was too late.  The virus had already jumped continents.  Plus, the initial test samples from the CDC were defective.  The longer it took to test, the more it spread.  By Valentine’s Day there was an outbreak in the state of Washington.  Trump kept downplaying the severity of the virus.  Within a few weeks, it would be impossible to control the outbreak, especially given the shortages of testing, personal protective equipment, and ventilators.


The show suggested five factors were important:

  1. A collection of former officials sounded an alarm that were not heard. In January and February, as the coronavirus grew from outbreak to epidemic to pandemic, a group of former public health and national security officials, some of whom had helped craft a set of so-called “pandemic playbooks” to help guide a unified federal response, privately encouraged officials across the Trump administration to heed warnings of an impending disaster. “The president began to say that nobody could imagine that something like this could actually occur,” Dr. Dan Hanfling, a biosecurity and disaster response expert in Virginia, told ABC News. “The truth is that there was a group of us that had been trying to raise the alarm.”
  2. On the eve of crisis, the pandemic preparedness office was scrapped.  The White House National Security Council once featured a pandemic preparedness desk that monitored for biological threats to the security of the United States.  Its dissolution – less than a year before the novel coronavirus first emerged in China – has become fodder for the president’s critics.
  3. After early action, opportunities were squandered. Experts say that a delayed response from the federal government and a lack of cooperation from foreign counterparts hampered the nation’s ability to prepare for the pandemic.
  4. Inadequate testing blinded leaders.  Until April, the United States lagged far behind numerous other countries on testing even as community spread was actively occurring across the country and around the world. Testing supplies were not part of the government stockpile.  To this day, there is still an undersupply of testing and personal protective equipment.
  5. Mixed messages undermined a public’s confidence in the response. Public health leaders say Trump’s rhetoric set back the efforts to supply a unified message to the public.  As one official put it, “What are people supposed to think when the federal government has a plan for reopening and the president is telling people to ignore his experts’ own plan for reopening?  That confuses everyone. It leads to politics, division, divisiveness. It leads to some of these protests you were seeing.”  Trump constantly ignored the advice of his own advisors about re-opening the country.  He has almost never wears a mask in public.  He is a complete dud as a President.

This is what we have on July 28:

Infected                   Died

World               16,883,769              662,480

US                       4,498,323              152,319

Virginia                  86,994                  2,095

Augusta County          244                         3

Nearly 1,000 more Virginians infected overnight.  Thirteen more dead.  And to date the federal government has taken no responsibility for the spread.


July 29, 2020

This is the first day of Lynn’s immobility.  She awoke hurting in the middle of the night but after some acetaminophen she got back to sleep.  She has such a busy lifestyle, always on the go, that I worry about how she’ll be sedentary for the next six weeks.


Lots of people have already checked on her.  She’s still planning on being involved with her mother’s 101st birthday party tomorrow.  But walking is a real issue.  Fortunately, we have little planned for the next two days.  We’re certainly not going to be walking.


Trump retweeted his support of hydroxychloroquine, despite both the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration already dismissing the antimalarial drug’s efficacy in treating COVID-19.  ABC News reported that he ongoing war of words over the drug led the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to reiterate that the drug “is not effective” in treating the virus, while FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn recently lamented that it had become “politicized” in the midst of a pandemic.


An internal FEMA memo obtained by ABC News reports that new cases are going down but deaths are surging.  In the seven days ending Monday, new cases nationwide have decreased 0.6% from the previous week but that time period also saw a 30.1% increase in deaths from the disease and deaths have been increasing steadily in recent days.


Lynn can hobble from one place to another but her foot is still swollen and hurting.  She has an appointment next Wednesday to see the orthopedic doctor.  With no crutches nor cane, her only option is to try to walk mostly on her heel but with the boot on it isn’t easy.


Today was errand day for me, especially since Lynn was so immobile.  I went to Harrisonburg to make a bank withdrawal then she and I together went to Kroger to pick up an order she had made online.  I also made a run to the dump with our trash and the Gutshall’s.  That’s the excitement for the day.   This evening I took Lynn in to see her mother and drop off some things for tomorrow’s big party.  She said her mom is really looking forward to her 101st birthday!


We found out this afternoon that a neighbor of ours, John Michael, passed away this morning.  It was not unexpected; he had struggled for the past several months.


In today’s news, hard-hit Texas reported a record 313 fatalities on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 6,190. The state had never reported more than 200 in a single day.  In Florida, 217 new fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours — a second day in a row of record-setting deaths, the state’s health department said Wednesday.  On Tuesday, the department said a record 191 new fatalities had been reported in the previous 24 hours.  And coronavirus deaths are on the rise in the state of Washington for the first time since March.  So who thinks we’re getting a hold on this virus?  Only our President.


I went nearly all day with no walking.  I was hesitant to leave Lynn for long periods of time.  Plus, I had less motivation to walk without my partner.  But then at 8:00 I decided to do a quick two mile walk.  I walked much faster than we normally do; I was back home in 31 minutes.  One worry I have is that I’ll start gaining weight because I have been eating a lot lately though I’ve also been walking for two hours every day.


Here are today’s statistics:

Infected                   Died

World               17,148,161              668,806

US                       4,555,924              153,488

Virginia                  87,993                  2,125

Augusta County          245                         4


Another thousand more Virginia infections and one more Augusta County death.


July 30, 2020

Today is Lynn’s mother’s birthday, her 101st.  I’ve never known anyone who has lived to 101 before, yet now I know one in our own family.  I’ve been around Mrs. Hanger much longer than I was ever around my own mother since my mom died when I had just turned 30.  She has always treated me well.  I hope she has many more birthdays!  Lately, she has had some bad days, though.


CNN reported today that experts say that the US is far from having COVID-19 under control.  Some states are seeing their highest death tolls. California on Wednesday reported 197 Covid-related deaths in a single day, according to state Department of Public Health. That total far outpaces the previous high of 159, recorded just last week.  The United States needs to restart its response with policy actions at the federal, state and local levels to get control of the pandemic, scholars at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security said in a report.


The news is so repetitive.  How many days have we heard that the US needs more mask wearing, more test availability, more PPP equipment, slower re-opening, more federal help in assisting with shortages, more social distancing, fewer events where many people are crowded into a venue such as a church, and quicker turnaround for testing?  Yet today’s news included a story about a US congressman from Texas who has now contacted coronavirus and blamed it on wearing a mask, something he had fought against for months.  How can people elect such an idiot?


Oh boy!  In a tweet this morning Trump says mail in voting causes fraud and wants to delay the election in November.  So it is too unsafe to vote in November but OK to send kids back to school in September?  Of course, he has no power to delay it since it is in the Constitution.  And, supposedly, even if it is delayed his term ends after four years and a Democrat from the Senate, perhaps Nancy Pelosi, will become President.  Trump said “with universal mail-in voting (not absentee voting which is good) the 2020 election will be the most inaccurate and fraudulent in history.   It will be an embarrassment to the USA.”  The fraudulent one and the embarrassment to the US is HIM.


The number of deaths rose in 32 states in the past day.  Including in the COVID-19 deaths is Herman Cain, a former Republican candidate for President, who attended Trump’s rally in Tulsa Oklahoma and did not wear a mask.


The birthday party today was well attended though it was in the small yard outside Mrs. Hanger’s apartment.  Bill and Sandy along with their daughter Jenny and her two boys, Tommy and Luke were there.  So were Kay Carter and her children David and Donna along with Donna’s husband David.  Jane Hanger was there with her daughter Sally, husband Ray, and children Bowman and Owen.  Lynn and I were there along with all three of our children, Ann, Kay, and Jim.  Ann’s husband Josh and children Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie came along with Kay’s children Thomas and Georgia.  Plus there were plenty of friends and employees from The Legacy.  In fact, the party ended a little too early when a representative from The Legacy required that Mrs. Hanger go back inside since, according to her, we were violating the CDC guidelines.  Everyone there wore a mask, I’d add.  Mrs. Hanger seemed very pleased though it really wore her out.  By the time Lynn and I left she was soundly asleep on her bed.


After the party our family came back here for a while.  The kids played well while we sat in the shade and chatted.  Kay had to go back early because she still had to get in a day’s work after getting home.  Jim stayed until after dinner which Ann picked up for us from Chicano Boy.


Jim brought me a present.  He had purchased and fixed a dump cart for my riding mower.  He has one that he uses a lot and I’m sure I’ll be putting mine to good use now.


We got news today that Lynn’s porch swings for the Pergola will arrive next week so Jim is going to come back to help install them.  I got the hardware today via Amazon which we’ll use to mount the swings to the Pergola.


Another vaccine, this one from Johnson and Johnson, is entering into human trials now after showing promise with monkeys.  It can’t come too soon.


Lynn’s foot has hurt her more than ever today.  Her toes are swollen and bruised.  Of course, she overdid it today before and during her mother’s party.


Here are the numbers for today:

Infected                   Died

World               17,433,217              675,172

US                       4,626,450              154,984

Virginia                  88,904                  2,141

Augusta County          246                         4


Another 1,500 new deaths in the US.  Almost 1,000 new cases and 16 more deaths in Virginia.  So sad.


Here’s some COVID-19 good news:  The U.S. saw the first week-over-week decrease in new COVID-19 cases since early June, The COVID Tracking Project reported Thursday.  The number of new cases fell by nearly 20,000, from 468,000 last week to 448,198, this week, the data project found.


But in other news from ABC, Ohio reported 1,733 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — its highest daily count ever, Gov. Mike DeWine said.  For the third day in a row, a new record-high number of deaths were reported in hard-hit Florida, according to the state’s Department of Health.  New Jersey saw 2,066 new coronavirus cases in the last week (ending July 27) — a 112% increase from the week prior.  Meanwhile in Georgia, the number of new COVID-19 deaths in the last week nearly doubled in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs area. The week ending July 20 saw 71 deaths while the week ending July 27 brought 139 deaths.


With all that was going on today plus rain this afternoon and evening, there was no walking for me today.  That’s OK; it was fantastic to see so many family members today before and after the birthday party.  I took 125 pictures which I’ve already posted online.


July 31, 2020

When I began writing this blog on April 20, the coronavirus had already been creating its havoc on our lifestyle for five weeks or so.  So I wrote then that I felt like a reporter assigned to writing about a baseball game but he started writing after the game had begun.  The problem is that I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  Yesterday I heard one of the medical experts use the same analogy to a baseball game when he spoke about where we were with COVID-19.  He said he thought we were in the 4th inning now.   Interesting.


The morning news reported that coronavirus fatalities are up by 15% though the number of infections may be leveling off in some of the hot spots.


My day began early with a urology doctor’s appointment.  Like my brother Butch, my worries about prostate issues have been put on the back burner while more pressing issues moved forward.  I haven’t had any change in symptoms so I wasn’t surprised when the doctor told me my results were OK and no need for further action.  I was a little concerned that the results this year weren’t posted to my MyChart records so I could see them but he had them and showed them to me.  My PSA basically hasn’t changed in the past three years.  He said I had less than a 10% chance of having prostate cancer.


Prostate cancer is known to run in the Hill family.  My dad had it but not until he was late in life, perhaps in his late 70’s. My uncle Hamp had it and despite having it treated it spread to his lungs, causing lung cancer which eventually took his life.  So I am always a little concerned about my trips to the urologist.


Meanwhile Butch’s Ann is having more and more issues in Columbus.  She was supposed to be released to a skilled nursing facility today but that’s not going to happen as she had several problems this morning.


One of Lynn’s friends, Cheryl Kent, brought her a scooter she can use with her broken leg.  I’m curious to see how often she uses it.  Lynn was in lots of pain last night so she re-wrapped her ankle and that seemed to help.


I’m trying to get everything ready to install Lynn’s Pergola swings when they come next week.  Jim told me I should get lock washers instead of flat washers so I ordered them for pickup from Lowe’s this morning.  Lynn went to see her mom today so I picked them up when I took her to Staunton.  Then I think we’ll be all set for mounting the swings when they come.  Jim is going to come back to help.  Actually, I’m the one who helps; he is the one with all the skills.


On my mind today is what great children Lynn and I have.  Ann is such a good mother.  She is very protective without being a helicopter parent.  She got Lynn a very thoughtful birthday present of a reusable bag for Lynn’s sourdough bread loaves plus a cutting board sized just right for the bread.  She manages to see to everything her four children need simultaneously.  Kay has maintained her sanity dealing with a house which has had major issues plus taking care of two very active children and working fulltime.  She makes time to come here to see her mom and grandmother and manages to transport Thomas and Georgia to swimming, tennis, soccer, and/or basketball.  Lately she has had to go to her office in downtown Washington late at night in order to get all of her work done.    Like Ann, she is very thoughtful.  For Lynn’s birthday she got her a reflecting vest for save walking.  It will be a few weeks before Lynn can use it again!  Jim is so skilled at both academic and household matters.  For Lynn’s birthday he brought great pictures of Faron and Coen which are now proudly displayed on our kitchen mantle.  The cart he brought me yesterday required him to make several modifications so it would work with my mower.  It works great.  He’s always willing to come here to help us.  He dearly loves his two boys and would do anything for them.


From ABC News tonight:  The CDC predicted today that the US will suffer more than 180,000 deaths due to COVID-19 by August 22.  More than 67,600 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the United States on Thursday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  The latest daily caseload is under the country’s record set on July 16, when more than 77,000 new cases were identified in a 24-hour reporting period.  In one Georgia camp, students were not asked to wear masks.  44% of the campers got coronavirus.  The Florida Department of Health recorded 257 deaths in the last 24 hours, marking a new, grim record for the state for the fourth day in a row.  On the good news side, New York saw its lowest number of hospitalizations, ICU patients and intubations since mid-March on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said.


Here are the statistics for today:

Infected                   Died

World               17,727,472              681,934

US                       4,700,326              156,701

Virginia                  89,888                  2,174

Augusta County          249                         4


Virginia again had nearly 1,000 new cases and a whopping 33 more deaths.  I wonder how many of those 33 got infected from an environment similar to a school?


Trump again today tweeted that the high case numbers in the U.S. were due to increased testing – an assertion that his own administration has repeatedly said is not true.  Dr. Fauci testified before Congress that “the increase in cases was due to a number of factors,” including states that reopened too quickly and people “congregating in crowds and not wearing masks,” he said.  Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s handling of three major challenges facing the country — the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide unrest over racial inequality and relations with Russia — in a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.


Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie are supposed to resume school on August 18, just 19 days from now.  They are scheduled to go two days per week and have the rest of their schooling online.  Class sizes will be cut in half due to the A/B schedule.  During the in-person school time masks are not going to be required inside the classroom as long as students sit six feet apart.  I do not like this.  Thomas and Georgia don’t return to school until September 8.