Category Archives: July 2021 Posts

July 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

July 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 1                Infected                   Died

World             183,408,407           3,971,381

US                     34,561,403              620,645

Virginia                680,564                11,419

Augusta County       5,988                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

July 2                   Infected                   Died

World             183,933,740           3,981,758

US                     34,580,198              621,161

Virginia                680,744                11,423

Augusta County       5,987                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 3                   Infected                   Died

World             184,231,181           3,987,155

US                     34,588,176              621,255

Virginia                680,904                11,423

Augusta County       5,989                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 4                   Infected                   Died

World             184,566,950           3,993,511

US                     34,592,377              621,293

Virginia                681,072                11,427

Augusta County       5,991                       79

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

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

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

July 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 5                   Infected                   Died

World             184,923,557           4,000,520

US                     34,598,361              621,335

Virginia                681,194                11,431

Augusta County       5,991                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 6                   Infected                   Died

World             185,350,158           4,008,460

US                     34,616,333              621,563

Virginia                681,326                11,434

Augusta County       6,000                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 7                   Infected                   Died

World             185,806,567           4,016,795

US                     34,638,536              621,763

Virginia                681,599                11,436

Augusta County       6,001                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 8                   Infected                   Died

World             186,302,158           4,025,643

US                     34,675,895              622,211

Virginia                681,890                11,441

Augusta County       5,994                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 9                   Infected                   Died

World             186,796,571           4,034,380

US                     34,707,293              622,664

Virginia                682,147                11,448

Augusta County       5,991                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 10                 Infected                   Died

World             187,263,125           4,042,632

US                     34,726,111              622,821

Virginia                682,433                11,450

Augusta County       5,979                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

 Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 11                 Infected                   Died

World             187,632,756           4,049,071

US                     34,732,753              622,845

Virginia                682,673                11,450

Augusta County       5,983                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 12                 Infected                   Died

World             188,046,864           4,055,442

US                     34,765,501              623,022

Virginia                682,856                11,450

Augusta County       5,983                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 13, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 13                 Infected                   Died

World             188,693,726           4,067,171

US                     34,807,813              623,435

Virginia                683,202                11,459

Augusta County       5,985                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 14, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 14                 Infected                   Died

World             189,113,217           4,073,561

US                     34,840,655              623,744

Virginia                683,614                11,467

Augusta County       5,984                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 15                 Infected                   Died

World             189,695,883           4,082,564

US                     34,883,756              624,184

Virginia                684,054                11,471

Augusta County       5,977                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 16                 Infected                   Died

World             190,250,695           4,090,953

US                     34,924,758              624,488

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,996                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

 

July 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 17                 Infected                   Died

World             190,702,044           4,097,432

US                     34,952,809              624,711

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,976                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 18                 Infected                   Died

World             191,194,672           4,105,356

US                     34,963,439              624,746

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,976                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 19                 Infected                   Died

World             191,683,822           4,112,517

US                     35,013,136              624,967

Virginia                685,485                11,483

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 20                 Infected                   Died

World             192,203,417           4,123,976

US                     35,076,925             625,244f

Virginia                686,206                11,487

Augusta County       5,996                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 21                 Infected                   Died

World             192,787,141           4,141,890

US                     35,144,784              625,808

Virginia                686,884                11,491

Augusta County       6,000                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 22                 Infected                   Died

World             193,351,671           4,150,571

US                     35,204,523              626,157

Virginia                687,550                11,493

Augusta County       5,992                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 23, 2021

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 23                 Infected                   Died

World             194,009,770           4,159,507

US                     35,283,050              626,658

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 24, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 24                 Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 25                 Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 26                Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                690,183                11,506

Augusta County       6,000                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 27                 Infected                   Died

World             195,922,184           4,192,177

US                     35,343,829              627,379

Virginia                691,018                11,515

Augusta County       6,009                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 28, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 28                 Infected                   Died

World             196,627,286           4,202,565

US                     35,475,873              628,083

Virginia                692,105                11,522

Augusta County       6,019                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 29                 Infected                   Died

World             197,305,800           4,213,045

US                     35,577,109              628,468

Virginia                693,206                11,525

Augusta County       6,026                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 30                 Infected                   Died

World             197,963,690           4,223,253

US                     35,688,204              628,933

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 31, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 31                 Infected                   Died

World             198,547,026           4,232,892

US                     35,745,024              629,315

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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