May 1, 2020
This morning’s news details that many states are easing on their “shelter at home” mandates even though there have not necessarily been at least 14 days of diminishing number of COVID-19 cases in these states. Virginia is not one of those states. Virginia also has one of the country’s worst tests per capita rates.
Today marks seven weeks since we returned from the Greenbrier and faced the first routine-changing events which rapidly turned into a full quarantine. Thank goodness Lynn and I get along so well despite being side by side for all this time. I feel sorry for those couples that routinely feud who are bound together in these times.
Today marks seven weeks since we returned from the Greenbrier and faced the first routine-changing events which rapidly turned into a full quarantine. Thank goodness Lynn and I get along so well despite being side by side for all this time. I feel sorry for those couples that routinely feud who are bound together in these times.
Lynn was asked to sit in on a Zoom session involving all of Rockingham County Public Schools’ ELL teachers today. The session lasted over two hours. I had plenty of time to cut the grass and relax while she kept up with how RCPS ELL teachers are trying to teach kids in this closed-school era.
Coincidentally, I read an article today which pointed out that school serves as a child care facility for working parents when it is in session. Now, with school out and some parents being summoned back to work, the issue of child care is tough for some families.
Parents can’t drop the kids off with the grandparents anymore. The article pointed out that even this summer will bring more hardships than usual since camps are already canceled and, once again, grandparents are being shielded from COVID-19 as much as possible.
We got in our 2.6 mile walk shortly after lunch. Most of the walk was spent in a Facetime session with Jim, Coen, and Faron. During the call Jim got a visit from a neighbor so the boys were left inside with the phone on. They talked and talked to us. Ordinarily they aren’t as talkative around us but today they updated us on all their adventures, toys, and new goldfish. Both have very good vocabularies for boys three and four years old.
A poll today revealed that only 20% of Americans say they would be comfortable going to a stadium event now. No surprise, an economist predicted that the economy will not rebound until the virus is better contained. As much as I love WVU football, even if the season does go on as planned, which is very questionable now, I will enjoy watching the Mountaineers on TV this season. Lynn and I usually go to three or four games each season. Approximately 65,000 people attend each WVU home game; that’s pretty close to the number of fatalities in the US so far in 2020 due to coronavirus.
I have a very good hearted wife. She has been tutoring a student at Waynesboro High School once or twice each week for a year and a half. She has been tutoring students for over thirteen years as part of the Migrant Education Program funded through Albemarle County Public Schools. Juan Pablo has made good progress but Lynn hasn’t been able to meet with him since the first week of March due to the pandemic. Today she created a bag for him containing two masks, a bag of Takis, some Coke, and some Tootsie Rolls. He likes all of the treats. We took them to his house in Waynesboro today. She was able to speak to him a little in the yard. Lynn is so thoughtful!
She is also a good cook. We’ve eaten so well during the quarantine. Tonight she made homemade biscuits which we had with country ham. Ann had picked up some vegetables for us from a farm market in Stuarts Draft so we also had corn on the cob. Yum!
We didn’t have as much time to walk today. Our second walk was around Stewart Middle and Fort Defiance High School. We ended up with only 5.5 miles today.
Today’s grim statistics:
World 3,398,072 239,399
US 1,130,851 65,729
Virginia 16,901 581
Augusta County 44 1
We watched a press conference today with our Governor. He said that so far Virginia has been able have an adequate supply of hospital beds, ventilators, and personal protective equipment. The Commonwealth is still behind the curve in the number of people tested.
Alas, I’ve been without my truck all week. I had hopes the part Simmons had ordered would arrive today and I’d get it back for the weekend. That didn’t happen. Ugh! I have lots of trash to take to the dump. Ann and Josh need for me to bring my mower to their house because theirs is broken. Then I need to take their mower to Jim so he can work on it. All of these mower transports involve my trailer which I cannot use until I get my truck back.
Today was also payday. Looking at our finances, we decided it was time to get a new refrigerator. We’d previously done research on various models for the replacement. The ice maker and ice dispenser on ours are both broken and since it is one of the models which delivers ice through the door getting this fixed would be expensive. We’ve had nothing but trouble with the ice and water dispenser so we’ve decided on a model which has an ice maker but it and the water dispenser are on the inside of the freezer with french doors above. We called our friends Chris and Patrick Sheets at S & W Appliance in Staunton and ordered it today. Yippee!
May 2, 2020
This was perhaps the nicest day of 2020. The temperature was in the low 70’s most of the day with lots of blue skies. It was a Saturday and everywhere we saw people outside working in their yards, walking, etc. The Shenandoah Valley was lush and the spring trees were magnificent.
It was a good day for us, too, because we didn’t make it another same-old-same-old day. It began early with a 7:00 grocery pickup at Walmart followed by a 8:00 pickup at Kroger. After a quick stop at Central UMC to drop off the crackers we had purchased for the soup ministry we headed home.
Lynn had already started on an idea of hers. For the past five years, she has arranged for the girls in our family to attend a Mothers Day Tea at a local restaurant, Nissa’s Cafe. There were four generations at every Tea: her Mom, Lynn, Ann, Kay, Betsy, and Georgia. This Tea was a fund raiser on behalf of a former student of Lynn’s who died from cancer. The family helps out other families in a similar circumstance with money they raise from various fundraisers. It turns out that Nissa’s Cafe shut down this year but still the Tea was planned for today at a different location in Staunton. Then along came coronavirus….
Lynn wasn’t about to let the idea of the Tea stop. She decided to do her own Tea and link to the other families using Zoom. First she needed to come up with cookies so she started baking early today. Her plan was to ship them overnight to Kay in Arlington. I told her that with the cheap price of gasoline we could just take the cookies to Arlington just as cheaply. So we decided to do that.
First we had our morning walk on the 3.7 loop. This turned out to be our only walk of the day as we spent most of the rest of the day in my car.
By 1:30 she had two different kinds of cookies made plus some she had in her morning grocery order. She added some raspberry tea bags because they always had raspberry tea at Nissa’s. Plus she made some pimento cheese because that, too, was traditionally served at the Tea.
The ride to Arlington was a typical 2 1/4 hour drive. I was surprised that the traffic was so heavy, especially on I-66 near Washington.
We got there at 4:00 and spent a great hour in front of their house chatting with Kay and Andy, watching the kids ride their bikes, admiring Kay’s new car, and taking pictures. It was such a shame that we couldn’t hug them all. We safely kept our distance.
The traffic on the way back home was lighter. Usually I-81 is miserably packed with traffic, especially truckers, but this evening it wasn’t bad. We stopped for dinner at a Chick Fil-A drive through which was served to us very efficiently and safely.
The COVID-19 stats for today are as follows:
World 3,483,347 244,761
US 1,160,774 67,444
Virginia 17,731 616
Augusta County 45 1
May 3, 2020
For the first time I can recall this spring, the temperature was over 60o when I got the newspaper early in the morning. So shortly after breakfast we decided to take a walk. We ended up making two hikes each of two miles so by 11:00 we had nearly reached Lynn’s daily goal of 10,000 steps.
Central UMC had an unusual event this morning that we participated in–drive through Communion. Pastor Won had prepared small packages of grape juice and crackers that each car was given as we filed past the church. Plus, Millie Brown and Connie Davis had prepared soup so we were also given one quart of vegetable soup and one quart of corn chowder. This would normally have been our “soup and sup” Sunday with soup after Morning Worship so the event went on despite the quarantine.
Won is getting better at delivering online worship services. Today’s recording also featured some special music with a guest cellist accompanying music director Yi-Ping Chen who played the piano.
The feature event today was the Mothers’ Day Tea via Zoom. Kay and Georgia in Arlington, Ann and Betsy on our back porch, and Lynn inside had a hour long visit with each other with tea and cookies. My job was to take pictures and post them on my website. It all worked out well. It was so much fun to hear Betsy and Georgia giggling! The only hiccup was that it was too hot on the back porch for Ann and Betsy so they came in to our kitchen while Lynn moved to the living room.
Afterwards Lynn and I took our second walk of the day. We opted to do the 3.7 Leaport loop which we’ve done many times. But today was the most difficult for me because the temperature had soared to 80o. We’ve walked that course when the temperature was in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, but never upper 70’s. I don’t think I realized how little shade the route has. It was a very tough walk for me. We ended up the day with nearly eight miles.
After another tasty dinner, Lynn had a chat with her Mom who is still doing well at The Legacy in Staunton. This facility has been so blessed to have avoided COVID-19 thus far.
I may quit posting the daily counts but here are today’s:
World 3,562,269 248,094
US 1,187,233 68,566
Virginia 18,671 660
Augusta County 46 1
The scary numbers remain just north of us. Harrisonburg has 478 cases. Rockingham County has 265.
The day ended with our bi-weekly Zoom meeting with our Covenant group at Central. It was nice to chat with Jim and Vicki Printy, John and Ginny Bauman, John and Eileen Myers, and Connie and Tom Davis. We shared how we’re surviving.
May 4, 2020
Today was another spectacular day with sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s. The forecast for the next several days is much worse with rain all day tomorrow and into Wednesday. Plus the temperatures are going to be in the 40’s and 50’s until the weekend.
We took advantage of the good weather by taking three walks. The first was once we found out my truck was fixed and ready to be picked up. We walked the one mile uphill hike to T & B Simmons Repair Shop and got it, drove home, then walked another three miles which meant we had four miles under our belts before lunch.
Our second walk was mid-afternoon and our third was after dinner. All in all we put in over 7.5 miles. We won’t get nearly that much tomorrow with rain coming.
Today was Food Bank pickup day so my truck was ready in the nick of time. Once again I did the pickup without going into either the Blue Ridge Food Bank or Central UMC with the delivery. We had three pickup loads full today.
The news tonight was not encouraging. Despite more than 68,000 deaths already in the US, the news tonight had a story of one model’s prediction that the number of deaths will be at 3,000 per day by June 1 and could be as high as 100,000 per day. More and more people are ignoring social distancing and in many places there are crowds protesting over the restrictions. Thirty eight states have eased their restrictions. Some of them have not seen the recommended 14 consecutive days of no increase in infections. The fear among the medical community is that the number of cases will erupt again especially in these places.
There is a battle of words going on as to how coronavirus got its start. We were originally told it came from a meat market in Wuhan, China. Now President Trump has signaled that it came from a laboratory in Wuhan. Of course, few of us believe anything that man says.
There is more information about possible vaccines. Worldwide there are 8 human trials, 2 in the United States. Oxford Researchers are hoping that the first results in humans will be known by June. Trump claims there will be a vaccine by the end of the year. Some scientists warn, though, that this may not happen.
In an afternoon press conference, Governor Northram announced that Virginia’s restrictions will stay in place until May 15. I’m sure there are plenty of right-wingers who will have a fit with that. Beginning May 15, Virginia will start a three-phase process to get people back to work if all goes as planned.
Some grocery stores have begun limiting meat sales to customers due to the meat shortage caused by processing plants being closed due to COVID-19. We have more than enough meat in our freezer to last for months so we shouldn’t be affected by this for a long time.
With my truck back on the road, I did a trash run today. Lynn went with me and our first stop was at the Gutshall’s to get theirs. We got to see Ann, Betsy, Freddie, and Henry. All looked good.
It had been weeks since we’d been to our favorite ice cream store, Smiley’s in Mount Crawford. After supper this evening we made a quick run there where Lynn got Heavenly Coconut Cookie, one of the flavors of the week, while I got my regular Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk. Yum!
Apparently President Trump was recently interviewed while sitting in the Lincoln Memorial. One of his outlandish statements in that interview is that he has been the worst-treated President in American history. He said this while sitting in the memorial to a President who was assassinated. What irony! One comment to this story said that Trump would probably want America to build a memorial to him larger than the Lincoln version. No chance.
Given tonight’s news, it probably would be important that I continue to post these statistics:
World 3,640,805 251,844
US 1,211,545 69,617
Virginia 19,492 684
Augusta County 47 1
Harrisonburg and Rockingham County still are under siege from COVID-19. Their infections are 497 and 269, respectively. Staunton has 13 cases; Waynesboro 14. What a difference!
May 5, 2020
The threat of rain didn’t deter this pair of walking old people. After breakfast we got in our 2.6 mile walk just before the rain started. The temperature was chilly, 49o, but there was no wind so it didn’t feel that cold.
The future is so unsure, especially the future of traveling. As I wrote earlier, we’ve already postponed our trips to Puerto Rico and Brazil/Argentina scheduled for 2020. But there are more future trips that are in limbo now. We’ve been to 48 states–all except Oregon and Hawaii. We initially were thinking of going to Oregon this fall then Hawaii next summer with Kay’s family. We then changed our mind about the Oregon trip when the South America vacation came along. Now I don’t know if/when either will happen. We have traveled so much in the past ten years; it is really depressing to be so tethered to our house now.
I did a little vacuuming today. The furniture was exactly where it was a couple of weeks ago when I vacuumed last. This is sad. When the kids came over several times each week, the downstairs furniture would get moved around, pillows scattered out of place, tv remotes lost between the couch cushions, and various electronics routinely left on. How I wish for dishevelment! No one except for Lynn and I have been in our house for weeks and weeks, except for a few moments on Sunday when Betsy and Ann did some of the Mothers’ Day Tea in our kitchen. Sheltering in place is necessary but it is lonely.
We managed to walk more than I thought we could possibly do on a rainy day. Between showers we went to Stewart Middle School and added a couple of miles to our daily total. In all we netted 5.6 miles today.
Today is May 5, Cinco De Mayo. To celebrate, Lynn made a great Mexican dinner with taco salad and guacamole. The guacamole was particularly tasty.
After dinner both of us worked on a project she had using her Cricut machine and its associated software. This was the first time she had tried this particular option and it took both of us a while to figure out how it was done. She’s making an iron-on design for a shirt that is like one on another shirt.
The news is so repetitive. There’s no need restating here what I’ve been saying for weeks now. Same old stuff.
World 3,723,745 257,975
US 1,237,045 72,242
Virginia 20,256 713
Augusta County 47 1
The virus may have leveled off some but the rate of infection is still extraordinary. It is still scary.
In today’s “can you believe it?” news, the Trump administration is considering disbanding the White House’s coronavirus task force, administration officials said, as the virus continues to spread around the country. Trump seems to care much more about economic indictors than he does death counts. To top it off, he visited a mask factory in Arizona today and ignored signs requiring a mask to be worn as he only wore safety goggles on his eyes. Does he think goggles are going to protect him or anyone else from COVID-19? This is the man in charge of our country…..
May 6, 2020
Life huddled in a country house usually has little excitement but today was different. Shortly after breakfast we heard sirens. Then no less than eight fire trucks zoomed past our house. The trucks were from Verona, Staunton, Weyers Cave, New Hope, and Fishersville. Other emergency vehicles including an ambulance also flew by and headed up toward the church we always walk to, Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church.
It turns out that a house just past the church had caught on fire. First reports were there was someone entrapped but by the time the trucks got there everyone was out of the house. Damage was heavy to an upstairs bedroom but there were no injuries, thankfully.
The fire did prevent us from doing our normal morning walk as the road was blocked at the church so we avoided it. We did get in a two mile walk in relatively brisk weather.
Just as we were leaving I got a text from my brother informing us that Ann, his wife, had been taken to a hospital in Columbus OH with kidney issues. Because of COVID-19 he was not allowed to accompany her nor visit. She was tested for coronavirus but the results were negative. It is still sad that he can’t even visit with her in Columbus. He told us that the issue was not life-threatening.
I read a New York Times article this morning. Here are excerpts:
In New York City, the daily onslaught of death from the coronavirus has dropped to half of what it was. In Chicago, a makeshift hospital in a lakefront convention center is closing, deemed no longer needed. And in New Orleans, new cases have dwindled to a handful each day.
Yet across America, those signs of progress obscure a darker reality.
The country is still in the firm grip of a pandemic with little hope of release. For every indication of improvement in controlling the virus, new outbreaks have emerged elsewhere, leaving the nation stuck in a steady, unrelenting march of deaths and infections.
As states continue to lift restrictions meant to stop the virus, impatient Americans are freely returning to shopping, lingering in restaurants and gathering in parks. Regular new flare-ups and super-spreader events are expected to be close behind.
Coronavirus in America now looks like this: More than a month has passed since there was a day with fewer than 1,000 deaths from the virus. Almost every day, at least 25,000 new coronavirus cases are identified, meaning that the total in the United States — which has the highest number of known cases in the world with more than a million — is expanding by between 2 and 4 percent daily.
Rural towns that one month ago were unscathed are suddenly hot spots for the virus. It is rampaging through nursing homes, meatpacking plants and prisons, killing the medically vulnerable and the poor, and new outbreaks keep emerging in grocery stores, Walmarts or factories, an ominous harbinger of what a full reopening of the economy will bring.
Butch later texted us that Ann was doing better in the Columbus hospital. She should be released soon from the ICU and possibly discharged in a couple of days. He was able to talk with her a couple of times today. Let’s hope she gets the treatment she needs.
Our afternoon walk was done in very brisk weather. Over the next week the forecast is for temperatures to be 10 or more degrees below normal. We walked to the church and could see the house that had been damaged by fire earlier today.
This afternoon our new refrigerator was delivered and installed. Here we are now with two people in the house with three refrigerators and a freezer! Actually we hope Ann will be able to leave some items here when she needs because she didn’t have room for another refrigerator at her house. We offered ours to her.
The two men delivering the refrigerator were both mask-less. I wore mine while they were here and gave each of them one from Lynn’s collection. One never did put it on.
Here are today’s numbers:
World 3,810,785 264,021
US 1,256,669 74,121
Virginia Today’s data not available
Augusta County Today’s data not available
The Virginia Department of Health website was down most of the day today so I don’t have statistics from the state or local. Alas, another day with more than 2,000 deaths in the United States.
May 7, 2020
The two quarantined people in this household were fairly busy today. Our day began with a 7:00 grocery pickup at Walmart. Included in that order were crackers for Central UMC’s soup ministry so we took the six boxes of saltines over to the church kitchen before returning to Aldi’s grocery store for their 8:30 senior citizen shopping hour. Lynn was the first one in the store and quickly got the few items we needed.
We returned home in plenty of time for her to interpret for a Rockingham County Special Education meeting involving a Hispanic family. She talked with the mother on the phone while simultaneously connected on Zoom to a few of the student’s teachers including the SPED teacher.
While Lynn did this, I trimmed a bush in off our back porch. This is a yearly chore for me. Today’s weather was nice for chores like this.
It was also good for walking so we did our short walk, 2.6 miles, before lunch. Later on we did our long one, the 3.7 mile Leaport loop.
I also cut our grass today. I could have waited a day or so but the upcoming weather looks much colder and wet so I went ahead and did the job today.
Lynn has been working on a project using her Cricut machine. She’s been stumped several times but keeps working at it. She is probably feeling very frustrated tonight because she had to re-do lots of work today and still was unable to get past a certain step on her project.
The Virginia Department of Health’s website was back up today:
World 3,911,432 270,338
US 1,291,222 76,894
Virginia 21,570 769
Augusta County 55 1
Once again, the US has over 2,000 deaths in one day from COVID-19. How can anyone say that we’re getting control of this?
In the news tonight it was reported that one of the employees who serves President Trump his meals has been tested positive for coronavirus. Isn’t it just a matter of time before he gets it? He never wears a mask. One of the news reporters tonight said he had never seen anyone in the West Wing of the White House with a mask on. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
I don’t wish this virus on anyone but I believe that if Trump did get it he would realize that personal health is more important than personal finance.
May 8, 2020
It has now been eight weeks since we’ve been locked down. So for eight weeks, I have not:
- touched a single person except Lynn
- been within six feet of any of my three children or eight grandchildren
- entered a grocery store
- visited any retail establishment such as Costco, Kohl’s, or Walmart
- been to a sporting event
- attended any kind of entertainment event outside my house
- eaten at any restaurant
- worshipped at my church
- traveled on any overnight trip
All of the above were previously things that I did very, very often. What I have done is to avoid contact with people, walk miles and miles each day, and hunker down with Lynn. It has been very depressing and worrisome. I long for the good old days though I am not sure they will ever return in my lifetime.
The weather this spring has been unpredictable. The only constant is the wind. Perhaps I’m just noticing the wind more that we are walking outside, but for the many years I coached or watched tennis I kept up pretty well with spring weather. It seems like every day we have to deal with 20 mph winds. A brisk wind can turn a 60o walk into a cold task.
The weather for the next week is supposed to be 20 degrees colder than usual. The high for tomorrow is supposed to be 49o. Lynn and I will probably still get our walking in but we’ll be bundled up. Today we walked seven miles with temperatures in the 50’s and that ever-present stiff wind.
Lynn worked for many hours today on her Cricut project. She’s getting closer to figuring things out. When she works on it she uses the laptop. Since our desktop iMac is now dead I am not able to keep up with my writing as much as before.
For dinner tonight we got take-out from our favorite Staunton restaurant, The Depot. The food was good but the atmosphere back here at 296 Leaport Road wasn’t as cool as it was at the restaurant when we were able to eat there. Perhaps someday we’ll be able to eat there again. It doesn’t appear like that will be soon.
Our governor is holding to the closure of non-essential businesses for one more week. Then places like barber shops can re-open but there will be many restrictions. He said today that when the ban is lifted churches will be able to resume services as long as the building is no more than 50% occupied. Just yesterday Pastor Won sent a questionnaire out to Central’s Administrative Council wondering if anyone would be interested in having worship services soon if the ban were lifted. Not a single person responded that this would be a good idea.
The news today had a story about an illness that is affecting a few children who were thought to have previously had, and recovered from, COVID-19. The illness doesn’t happen until weeks after COVID-19 and was fatal for one child in New York. This is really scary since previously children were generally considered safe from the virus.
World 4,010,571 275,959
US 1,321,666 78,599
Virginia 22,342 812
Augusta County 55 1
May 9, 2020
The lowest high temperature on record for May 9 is 52o according to this morning’s weather report. The predicted high today is 50o. Plus there is a fairly stiff wind accompanying the cold air so we opted to not take a morning walk today.
Instead, Lynn worked on her Cricut project for a long time. There were several restarts along the way but she finally got it all figured out. I was able to help a little with tech issues. She finished the project after dinner.
After lunch we bundled up as if it were winter and did our 2.6 mile hike. It wasn’t that unbearable.
Lynn made a second batch of strawberry preserves today; she made one batch earlier in the week. Yum! She somehow uses her bread maker to make the preserves. I am so lucky to have her. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day but today I get the treat.
The unemployment rate is now 15%, the highest since the Great Depression. More than 20 million people lost their jobs in April. As before, there are protests to re-open states despite the fact that few states have met the criteria that states were supposed to use in order to re-open.
We bundled up again and took a second walk today, this time at the local middle and high schools. We walked around 3 miles and ended up with nearly 6 miles for the day. Not bad for two old people in less-than-desirable weather.
The news tonight said that approximately one-third of all deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States have occurred in nursing homes. We keep our fingers crossed that Lynn’s mother will continue her healthy stay at The Legacy in Staunton. Tomorrow her four children plan to “visit” her from outside her apartment there. The nursing crew at The Legacy is going to move Mrs. Hanger over to the window to see them and hopefully will be able to chat with them.
There is still so much undecided for the remainder of this year. Will schools and colleges re-open? If so, how will it be different? What about churches?
I don’t believe coronavirus is going to magically disappear someday. In some ways, I feel like we’re huddled at our houses giving hospitals the chance to treat those who have been infected but all of us are going to get it eventually once we “open up.” I read today that the one drug, remdesivir, which has been effective treating those who have the most advanced cases, is in very small supply. The doses of it which are available are being sent to the more metropolitan hospitals. So if one of us gets COVID-19 we’d not be able to get the drug here in rural Virginia.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the news is also very depressing about very young children having a life-threatening reaction after contracting COVID-19. New York has three children who have now died from this condition. This is so scary.
I pray. I pray every day about our world. I pray for relief from COVID-19. I pray that we can return to the way things were before March. I pray earnestly for my family. It’s the one thing I can do.
Here are today’s stats:
World 4,097,000 280,139
US 1,346,332 80,004
Virginia 23,196 827
Augusta County 64 1
We ended the day by watching a movie that Ann had let us borrow, Crazy Rich Asians. It was a break from our normal routine and television shows.
May 10, 2020
Today is Mother’s Day. It is a Mother’s Day unlike any other I have experienced. Alas, I couldn’t even go inside a store to buy Lynn a card. I thought I had this problem solved. Last Monday I submitted an order for a personalized card at Shutterfly. I had previously ordered several photo items from this company. The website said if the order was submitted by Monday it would arrive in time for Mother’s Day. I kept checking all week on its progress. On Monday is said “received.” On Tuesday through Thursday it said “being created.” On Thursday night it said “shipped.” But when I checked the tracking on the shipment it said it would get here on Friday, May 15!
In lieu of that card, I created two cards of my own on Saturday using a couple of photos from my 50,000+ collection, card stock, and our HP color laser printer. They came out OK and Lynn seemed very appreciative when she read them this morning. She even showed them to Kay when she, Thomas, and Georgia had a Facetime session with her this morning and to Ann this afternoon. Jim also called his mother today so she got Mother’s Day wishes from all her children and me.
She also received a present from the Hispanic family she’s helped out so much, the Aguirre-Jiminez family. They left a bouquet of flowers for her while we were on one of our walks. There are so many people who think so highly of Lynn!
The weather was much more cooperative today after a cold night. It was sunny and fairly warm today with temperatures in the 60’s. As a result we walked more than usual: 7.5 miles. We did this in two shifts, one in the morning and one after dinner.
The afternoon was a good one for the Hanger family. As planned, the staff at The Legacy put Mrs. Hanger in her wheelchair and rolled her over to her window then partially raised it. Between 3:00 and 4:00 she had fourteen family visitors including her four children: Kay, Lynn, Bill, and Jane. Three grandchildren came by: Donna Carter, our daughter Ann, and Jenny McIlwain. Three great-grandchildren were there: Betsy with Ann and Luke and Tommy with Jenny and Adam. Sandy Hanger, Darrell Miller, and I made the final fourteen. People took turns going up to her window and chatting. Social distancing was maintained. Mrs. Hanger seemed very alert and well. While Mrs. Hanger was getting her time with each family member the rest of us caught up on what was going on in our lives. Everything worked out very well.
Later I commented to Lynn about how lucky she is to have had her mother with her for so many years. Quickly doing the math, I commented that it had been 40 years since I was able to wish my mom Happy Mother’s Day. She died in December, 1980. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom Hill. To this day, I am still carrying your note in my wallet. I do know that you love me, had high expectations for me, and we’ll see each other someday.
Ann hit the right spot with Lynn for Mother’s Day. She had ordered an ice cream cake from Smiley’s but when she went to pick it up they had somehow misplaced or given it away. So instead they gave her a gallon and a half of Lynn’s favorite ice cream, Death by Chocolate. Plus they’re going to make her another cake this week.
We ate another great dinner tonight. I grilled steaks, Lynn fixed salad and warmed up some leftover mushrooms we had from our Depot dinner on Friday night. Add lima beans and you’ve got a feast.
Here are today’s grim numbers:
World 4,177,140 283,687
US 1,366,915 80,769
Virginia 24,081 839
Augusta County 64 1
A small ray of hope in the news is that scientists have found that a cocktail of three drugs already approved for other infections has been used to reduce the severity and length of COVID-19 in patients in Hong Kong.
Lynn and I together started and finished another project of hers this afternoon. On our last Walmart order she got two sheets of poster board. Next Saturday the community is going to have a drive-by at Nancy Metcalfe’s house to honor her husband Mark who died April 22. This quarantine means that the only way a crowd can show their respects for one who has passed is to do it by means of an automobile parade by the person’s house. So today Lynn and I cut out letters for our signs using her Cricut machine. Then we neatly glued them onto the two poster boards. On one board it says “THE METCALFE FAMILY” and on the other it says “ONE WITH THE RIGHT CHEMISTRY.” Mark was a chemistry teacher at Fort Defiance High School for thirty years.
Lynn told me several times today that this was a good Mother’s Day for her. We did have one disagreement while walking but getting good advice from our lawyer–daughter Kay–resolved it. Lynn does have a big heart–one of the things she did today was to order 72 cupcakes we’ll pick up tomorrow and take to The Legacy for the staff. The accompanying note says: For the staff at Legacy. Thanks for all you do to keep the residents happy and safe! From the family of Betty Hanger.
May 11, 2020
Another chilly day with highs in the low 50’s and lots of wind. It didn’t stop us from taking our morning walk of 2.6 miles though we did bundle up a lot. If I didn’t have walking and writing this blog I don’t know what I’d do. As it is I’m bored between these two events, both of which happen a couple of times each day.
We did the pickup and delivery of the 72 cupcakes this morning. Because no one is allowed inside The Legacy, Lynn couldn’t even see how they would be distributed to the staff there. I’m sure they were appreciated. Lynn later found out that her Mom got one of them.
I haven’t played tennis is over eight weeks. Prior to this quarantine I was playing approximately three times weekly. It’s such a shame that not only have I had to give up this game, I’ve had to give up the good comradery I had with the dozen or so men with whom I played.
Walking has given Lynn and me the chance to chat with many more of our neighbors than we usually did. I guess that’s one good outcome of our pandemic. As we’ve walked we’ve chatted with neighbors Curtis Sheffer, Pastor John Crawford at Mt. Pisgah UMC, Millie and James Davis, new acquaintance Lacey Michael, Bev Coffman, Larry Mezzoni, Bee and Janet Myers, Stephen and Beth Metcalfe, and Sharon Zaccaria. We’ve exchanged greetings with many, many others whose names I don’t know. We always wave at passing cars and get the same in return.
Our walking today included the 3.7 mile Leaport loop again. We hadn’t done that hike in a few days so today we braved the cold and did it. Our total for the day was a little over seven miles.
We had delicious leftover steak and lima beans for dinner tonight. I also had cooked baked potatoes while we walked the loop. But the highlight was dessert. Lynn’s friend Cheryl Kent had dropped by some fresh strawberries from a local field. Lynn fixed them with sugar and freshly whipped cream. Man oh man!
Today’s news is more of the same. The White House is trying to simultaneously push states to reduce some of their restrictions while two of their own staff members have come down with the virus. At today’s press conference Trump told an outright lie when he said the coronavirus numbers were “down almost everywhere.” He later stormed out of the conference after clashing with a few reporters. The ABC reporter asked him did he think it was right that workers be required to return to work when they couldn’t get COVID-19 tests whereas everyone on his staff is tested daily. Trump reminds me of the parent who tells his child to “do as I say, not as a I do.”
World 4,246,980 286,742
US 1,384,033 81,703
Virginia 25,070 850
Augusta County 64 1
I always get my daily statistics from two websites. One is the Virginia Department of Health, which seems to underreport the number of cases in Virginia and Augusta County. The other is a site named worldometers.info which has numbers somewhat higher than other sites. For example, today the Johns Hopkins site has the US with 1,346,163 cases and 80,297 deaths. Regardless, over 80,000 deaths in just three months is still cause for alarm, not cause for trying to return to pre-COVID-19 life.
I don’t care if malls open back up or not. I’m not going there. It will be a long time before I set foot inside a restaurant or department store.
May 12, 2020
I just saw a clip of Trump’s news conference yesterday. His podium was surrounded by two HUGE signs saying “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN TESTING” suggesting that because of him the US is so well off in this battle against COVID-19. The signs should say “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN DEATHS” or “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN CORONAVIRUS CASES” because these statements are true whereas his statement about testing is not. The US has over 80,000 deaths; the United Kingdom is second in the world with a little over 32,000 and Italy is third with just over 30,000. The only people in America who can be tested are those who show symptoms or are in high risk environments. The average American who may want to be tested before returning to work cannot receive a test whereas those who work in the White House are tested every single day.
When he blew up and left this press conference it was because a female reporter, who happened to be Asian, asked him why he was making testing like a competition among countries instead of focusing on the fact that the number of deaths and infections was still growing. He angrily responded that she should “ask China the same question.” The news media quickly picked up on his prejudice toward Asians.
Here’s my ideal plan for returning to “normal” life. My desire is to re-enter stores, stadiums, theatres, and restaurants when I know that there is a medicine that adequately treats coronavirus AND that it is readily available in Augusta County. I’d love to see signs around Trump which say “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN COVID-19 TREATMENT.”
The morning walk was a little chilly but the wind wasn’t bad and the sun was out. The temperature was around 47o. When we walk I always wear my bright WVU jacket and hat. The official WVU color is gold, of course, but Lynn insists they are yellow. Either way they are easily seen by passing cars. We haven’t had any close calls yet.
Governor Northram announced yesterday that the DMV sites around the state would be closed for another week despite the easing of other restrictions which begin later this week. This is an issue with our grandson Henry who is now old enough to get his learners’ permit but can’t do so because he has to go to the DMV in order to take the test.
The government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before the Senate today. Even he had to speak remotely from his own home quarantine. He said the consequences of re-opening too soon is that an outbreak might be triggered that would be unable to be stalled. He said that a vaccine and a treatment might not be ready by fall when school would be scheduled to open. He repeated his plea for states to follow general guidelines that call for areas to reopen slowly, and only if cases decline for 14 days. Many states have pushed back on the recommendations and reopened without following them, which Fauci said was a bad idea.
Fauci, in response to an attack from Republican Rand Paul who said Fauci was not “the end all” of wisdom about the virus, said “I am very careful, and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease.” Instead of giving some false claim or definitive response about something he wasn’t sure of, he admitted that the science community was still learning about COVID-19. An article I read afterwards from CNN news said “what the doctor did on Tuesday is best understood as a quiet rebellion against the know-it-all-ism that is a defining trait of Trumpism.”
I can really appreciate this attitude. One of the things I like about my own physician, Dr. James LaGrua, is that he will readily seek the advice of a specialist instead of making a definitive call on my own health issues. He referred me to the Rockingham Pulmonary Associates for treatment for my asthma and sent me to Blue Ridge Urological for prostrate treatment. Like Dr. Fauci, and unlike our President, he does not try to be a know-it-all.
Trump’s COVID-19 lead spokesperson said that by fall there would be 50 million tests available per month. I’ll believe that when I see it. To date, fewer than 10 million tests have been done in the US since this pandemic started in February.
Lynn and I had a super treat today. Ann stopped by with the Smiley’s Death By Chocolate cake that was supposed to be ready for her on Sunday for Mother’s Day. It was ready today and was all of the following: huge, delicious, appreciated, and eaten. We only ate a small portion of it; Lynn cut and froze servings for future great desserts.
Today is supposed to be the last cool day this season. I hope so. We managed to walk over seven miles in all. Our second walk of the day took us to Stewart Middle School then Fort Defiance High School. Our third walk was after dinner when we walked to Mt. Pisgah UMC and back.
The data for today is as follows:
World 4,335,821 292,301
US 1,407,396 83,311
Virginia 25,800 891
Augusta County 64 1
One bit of good news in these stats is that for the fourth day in a row Augusta County’s numbers have stayed the same. I also heard today that Russia has taken over second place in the number of infections worldwide. Of course, they are still way behind the US.
May 13, 2020
Today’s weather for walking was the best we’ve seen perhaps since we started walking two months ago. The temperature for the morning walk was in the mid 50’s and there was no wind. This has been the windiest spring. It was really unusual to pass by the American flag pole on our way to Mount Pisgah UMC and see it dangling lifelessly. Usually it is flapping in a horizontal position in whatever direction the wind is howling.
Before we walked we made a quick trip to The Legacy to return Mrs. Hanger’s flowers. We had taken them because the last two nights had a freeze warning. The weather forecast for the remainder of May doesn’t have any frosts or freezes in sight.
Yesterday I commented about the hideous signs that flanked Trump at his press conference saying that “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN TESTING.” Today someone posted on Facebook that the US is 32nd in the world, just ahead of Belarus, in per capita testing.
One advantage of the quarantine is that Lynn and I have both been extremely healthy for the past eight weeks. Neither of us has had a cold, sore throat, stomach virus, or anything else that we perhaps would have encountered had we been around other people. There is some talk of people getting the “COVID 15” meaning they have added 15 pounds during the quarantine but actually I have lost weight.
Four years ago I weighed 220 pounds. I was entirely overweight. I had issues with reflux and aching knees. Dr. LaGrua wisely told me that my health would greatly improve if I lost weight. Lynn and I decided to lose weight together by reducing our portions. It worked; we each lost 50 pounds. I was able to keep my weight around 170 for the past three years. Earlier this spring it went up a bit to the mid 170’s. But since we’ve started walking for over two hours each day my metabolism has apparently increased. For the past week I’ve dropped to around 165.
The population of Harrisonburg is around 50,000. As of today, the city has 607 cases of COVID-19. The population of Rockingham County is around 80,000. It has 373 cases of COVID-19. Combining the two, there are nearly 1,000 cases or 1 for every 130 people. Compare that to Augusta County which has a population of 75,000 but has only 66 cases. Staunton has a population of around 25,000 with 21 cases. Waynesboro has a population of 21,000 and has 21 cases. Combining these three, there are 108 cases for 121,000 people or fewer than 1 per 1,000 people. You can see why we’ve avoided driving north!
Lynn took on a new job today. For the first time in our 43+ years of marriage, she was my barber. We borrowed hair clippers from Ann and she cut it this afternoon on our back porch in the warm sunshine. I give her a grade of A for my haircut! All barbershops in Virginia are currently shut down now but I’m not sure I’ll be going back to one now that she’s willing to do it. We’ll have to invest in our own electric clippers, of course.
We did the Leaport loop as our second walk of the day. Our total for the day was around 6.6 miles. The temperature was in the mid to upper 60’s. I don’t think I’ll enjoy walking in temperatures higher than that.
After writing just two paragraphs ago about our hesitation to go to Rockingham County we were really hungry for pizza tonight. We had tried a pizza store in Staunton but didn’t like it so we returned to one of our old favorites, Vito’s, for a Soprano Pizza. The Vito’s restaurant we went to was in Penn Laird, east of Harrisonburg, and it had a drive-through window so we didn’t have to leave our car in order to pick it up. It was yummy!
Wednesday night is Zoom night in our family so at 7:30 we visited with each of our children and their families again tonight.
World 4,421,198 297,533
US 1,427,739 85,041
Virginia 26,746 927
Augusta County 66 1
May 14, 2020
Today was Walmart pickup day. I commented to Lynn a while ago that when we were young, you got your own groceries but someone else filled up the tank at the gas station. Nowadays, we fill up our own tanks but someone else gets our groceries and brings them out to us. All in all it has worked OK for us, I have to admit. Once again Lynn bought several boxes of saltine crackers which we took to Central UMC for the soup ministry. Lynn also bought some groceries at Aldi’s grocery store which was done in a very safe manner.
It is reassuring to see people around here acting responsibly. Every person at Aldi’s, employees and customers, wore a mask. Every person we saw going into Walmart likewise was covered. This is in contrast with Wisconsin where its Supreme Court overturned the Governor’s stay-at-home mandate and opened the state wide open. There were pictures of Wisconsin bars packed with customers without a single face covered. I predict that in a few days not only will their bars be filled but so will their hospitals. Trump, of course, praised the Court.
I worked on two other tasks today that have been changed by COVID-19. For over a decade I’ve gotten all my prescriptions filled at Costco in Harrisonburg. I even did this when their pharmacy wasn’t in my drug plan’s list of approved pharmacies just because it was so convenient. But their pharmacy is an in-store operation; there is no drive-through or pick up window. With all the coronavirus cases in Harrisonburg we’re trying to avoid Costco so today I called and had all of my prescriptions transferred to Walgreen in Verona which does have a drive-through window.
The other task I did was to work on the Hill Family Scholarship. This is the 40th year that my brother Butch, sister Mary K., and I have given a scholarship in honor of our parents, especially our Mom who was such a wonderful school counselor at Bramwell High. Even though Bramwell High closed and merged with Montcalm High School decades ago, we’ve continued to give the scholarship. It is always presented at the end-of-year senior awards ceremony and I usually go there to present it. Thanks to COVID-19 causing schools to close this year, there will be no ceremony. Nonetheless we wanted to give the scholarship again this year so I contacted my high school classmate Vickie Workman Rushbrook who has worked and volunteered at Montcalm High School for many years. She conferred with the school counselor and sent us the name of a student deserving the scholarship, as she does every year.
I’ve now written a letter to the student and made arrangements to get a cashier’s check made out to her and the school she will be attending, Marshall University. I sent the letter to Burch and Mary K. to edit before I get the check and mail both to the student whose name is Katlyn Williams.
The news reports that over 36 million Americans have now lost their jobs. The Democrats are urging for another stimulus check to be sent to citizens while Republicans think the government has done enough and we should sit back and wait. With this being an election year I’m sure most decisions are being made not necessarily in the public’s best interest but made to raise the administration’s and lawmakers’ best chances of being re-elected.
Our walking total for the day today was 7.86 miles. Except for our two weeks in Italy we’ve never walked this much. The weather was in the mid 70’s this afternoon–quite warm compared to earlier this month. Tomorrow and Saturday are supposed to be even hotter.
An immunologist who testified today before Congress told them without a ramped up response moving forward, the U.S. will see the “darkest winter in modern history.” He was particularly pessimistic about a vaccine being developed quickly. He was also the Whistleblower who lost his job when he wouldn’t promote Trump’s worthless remedy, hydroxychloroquine, for COVID-19.
I bought a new tool today, a 3300 psi pressure washer. I got it at Tractor Supply and didn’t have to go inside the store. I’ve got several projects in mind for it once I figure out how it works.
I also made arrangements to have two of our five maple trees beside our driveway be taken down. One is mostly dead and its branches are directly over where I park the truck. If I don’t have it taken down I’m afraid it will be on top of my truck some morning. A contractor came out this afternoon and gave us a $800 quote for taking down both trees so we’re going to have it done. Lynn called some friends of ours, Robin and Ronnie Brown, who have an outside wood furnace, who told us they’d be glad to come and get the wood from the trees.
World 4,520,092 303,030
US 1,455,750 86,879
Virginia 27,813 955
Augusta County 70 1
How can anyone claim that this pandemic is under control? Day after day we see around 1,700 more US deaths.
May 15, 2020
This is the nine week mark since our quarantine began. At least Lynn and I are still on good terms. We’ve been together almost 24/7. She is a patient woman.
One contentious point is coffee. I love it and would probably drink it three times daily. She not only dislikes the taste, she hates the smell. She would be happier to never smell it in our house. I’ve always had it for breakfast so she’s used to that but when I’ve brewed a cup in the afternoon using my new Keurig coffeemaker she has not been happy with me. I think I’ll try brewing it in the garage and drinking it on the back porch now that the weather has improved.
The weather forecast is wacky again. Today and tomorrow the highs are supposed to be in the 80’s. Next week there are a couple of days with projected highs in the 50’s.
WHSV reported that there will be 500 additional COVID-19 tests being given on a first-come, first-served basis in Rockingham County and Harrisonburg this weekend. This will undoubtedly cause a spike in the number of identified cases in those areas. There are already around 1,000 confirmed cases combined in those localities.
On the news tonight, forty eight states are easing quarantine restrictions yet none report 14 day drop in new cases which was the government’s barometer for when re-opening could begin. The latest projection is that over 100,000 deaths will occur by June 1.
The President spoke at a press conference today not wearing a mask whereas everyone else there wore one. He said that his goal was to develop, manufacture, and distribute a vaccine by the end of the year. Others point out this is going to be a very difficult goal.
Again tonight there is worry about a child syndrome which develops in some children after they contact COVID-19. Over 200 cases have been identified; three have died.
Also in the news tonight is the issue of the test accuracy. Some of the tests give a high rate of false negatives. The recommendation is that if you get a test and it is negative but you have symptoms you should get another test.
Potentially good news from Oxford today is that a vaccine developed there has worked in monkeys, preventing them from catching COVID-19. Let’s hope it works in humans! Human testing has begun there.
We walked twice today but I struggled a little during the second hike. The temperature was around 80o and I was sore. My feet and legs were fine but my back ached. My posture has never been good; that could be part of my issue. Our total miles for the day was around 5.6 miles, lower than usual for us, and I am to blame.
One of the reason I didn’t walk well in the evening was that I had worked a lot during the day. I got the new 3300 psi pressure washer out of the box and worked with it for around 90 minutes. First I cleaned off our newspaper boxes which were covered with decades of grime. The pressure washer worked great on them. Then I cleaned off our entire front sidewalk. Again the new washer worked well. I did the job in shift so as to not run our well dry.
I also cut all of our grass this afternoon. The forecast for the next several days has rain scheduled so I felt like it needed to be cut today.
For the second night in a row Lynn made a wine slushy for us to enjoy after dinner. It included white wine, simple syrup, and frozen strawberries. We loved the treat both nights.
The drink was a bright spot among the daily bad news:
World 4,617,983 308,013
US 1,481,904 88,404
Virginia 28,672 977
Augusta County 74 1
May 16, 2020
The Democratic led House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion relief package on Friday but chances are slim that it will pass in the Senate. Trump is against it, too. This pandemic is not just a health issue, it is an economic and political one, too.
Interestingly, NASCAR has a race today with no fans in the stands. I wouldn’t be there coronavirus or not!
The combination of other events, rain in the forecast, and heat tried to put a damper on our walking plans. We still managed to get in three walks totaling 7.9 miles! We spent 2.5 hours walking again today. It feels good.
The big job for me today was to use the pressure washer to clean off the back porch. It looks so much better! It took me about 90 minutes to get the job done but the well help up and so did I. I took before and after pictures which show the difference. Like painting, though, every time you do one pressure washing job you see another which needs to be done. I got all I had planned to do behind me but now I see that I need to wash the bricks on the outside of the porch, too. This pressure washer is really good.
Today was the day for the drive-by parade to honor Mark Metcalfe. At 11:30 we went to Fort Defiance High School to get in the lineup. There were approximately 100 vehicles which is a wonderful tribute to a good man. We processed from the high school to the Metcalfe’s house which is approximately 3 miles from the school.
After that we ran a couple of errands then returned home. I used the pressure washer again, this time to wash our front porch. Lynn worked on an embroidered mask. All 300+ of her previous masks had just been sewn; now she’s working on using her fancy embroidery machine to make some with designs on the front. She is so skilled!
World 4,707,913 311,948
US 1,503,454 89,454
Virginia 29,683 1,002
Augusta County 82 1
Wow, over 1.5 million cases in the US and over 1,000 deaths in Virginia. We just heard today that a member of our church, Randy Lindamood, who lives in Rittenhouse Nursing home in Staunton, has tested positive for coronavirus. Rittenhouse is just a few blocks from The Legacy where Lynn’s Mom resides.
The news tonight was more of the same. Almost every state has eased restrictions. In five states the number of new cases is still rising. Some bars, parks, and beaches are full of people. I’m so fearful that we’re still in one of the early innings of this pandemic, not in the eighth or ninth as some people are acting.
I’ve seen Facebook posts like one person who said the government couldn’t make her wear a piece of cloth over her face. Well, the government can make you wear a piece of cloth over your private parts. In a restaurant you must wear shoes. I can’t believe people like this. So selfish, so stupid.
Lynn’s high school class is supposed to have its 50th reunion this fall. However, those planning the event are very right-wing and use Facebook to post their idiotic rhetoric frequently. Today two of them called our Governor an asshole. Northram is not perfect, but he is a doctor, believes in science, and has done a good job of keeping Virginia’s coronavirus outbreaks under control. Yesterday at his news conference he said that the state had enough hospital beds, personal protective equipment, and anyone who had symptoms or had been close to someone just identified with the virus could be tested.
May 17, 2020
Since we haven’t been able to have a church gathering since mid-March, Pastor Won and Music Director Yi-Ping Chen have been putting a video on You Tube each week for morning worship services. Each week they get a little better at the audio and video technicalities. Today’s video was very professionally done. It makes me all the less anxious to return to in-person worship.
I was able to do more pressure washing today. The more I do the more I see to be done. Today’s major accomplishment was to use it to clean out my gutters. I also washed our sidewalk and garage windows. It did a great job.
The weather was again very pleasant for our morning 2.6 mile walk. There was no wind, no sun, and temperatures in the 60’s. In the afternoon we took a long hike, 4 miles. We walked down Leaport Road to its intersection with Bald Rock Road then walked on Bald Rock for a half mile or so. It was a shady walk alongside Middle River. With yesterday’s heavy rains the river was quite high–almost up to the road. This was the first time we’d walked on Bald Rock Road. We walked until we were two miles from home. Coming back home is tough–nearly all uphill–but we’ll still likely do this hike again because the shade and distance is right.
I decided to list several things which have been instrumental for me in getting through this pandemic. Here they are in no particular order:
- Lynn, of course. We’re still getting along well. Without her company my misery level would be off the low end of the scale.
- Writing this blog. This has been very therapeutic for me. I can’t imagine that anyone will ever read it but that’s OK. Each day I write and edit it in Word then copy and paste it to my website.
- DISH TV. What we do without the news and other entertainment we get from our TVs? At 3:00 AM last night Lynn let me know that our bedroom TV was not working correctly. We tried to remedy it and even tried to get tech support because DISH advertises 24/7 support but were not successful. Finally this morning Lynn got a technician on the phone who helped us get our connection working again. Whew!
- I’ve written each day about our hikes. We walk for over two hours every day. My legs no longer ache and I don’t get out of breath when we walk. It has been very, very good for me.
- Working internet and phone. E-mail, Facetime, Zoom, and my iPad games have occupied my time when I’m not doing anything else. I’ve especially loved communicating with our family including our Wednesday night Zoom sessions. Our internet connection isn’t blazingly fast but it works well enough to stream videos. Our upload speed is especially slow but I only notice that when I’m uploading pictures to Flickr and I have taken very few pictures during this pandemic.
- Household chores. The outside of our house looks better than ever now. The grass has been cut, the bricks pressure washed, the bushes trimmed, and (some of) the mulch spread.
- Great food. Nearly every dinner has been magnificent. Tonight Lynn ifixed pancakes and bacon. On my pancakes I had some Virginia Maple Syrup from our friends John and Joan Sayers’ farm in Highland County. Lynn put some of her freshly made strawberry jam on hers.
- Good sleep. I have been sleeping most of the time between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am each day (except when the TV doesn’t work at 3:00 am!)
World 4,793,084 316,341
US 1,524,550 90,902
Virginia 30,388 1,009
Augusta County 84 1
The rate of spread of coronavirus does appear to be slowing down but it is still way over the speed limit, in my opinion. The number of US deaths is now around 1,500 daily instead of 2,000. Virginia had only 7 deaths in the past 24 hours. But if one of them is a relative of yours you wouldn’t feel like it had slowed enough.
This Sunday night had two special events in it. First we met our friends Ann and Wes Ford for ice cream at Smiley’s. Of course, I had salted caramel chocolate chunk. So did Lynn. We had a good visit with the Fords maintaining our social distancing.
Lastly, we had a Zoom meeting with our Covenant group. John and Ginny Bauman and John and Eileen Myers joined us for a nice chat. Tom and Connie Davis and Jim and Vicki Printy usually are on this Zoom session but didn’t join this time.
May 18, 2020
We’ve lived at this address since the summer of 1988. The house was built in 1968 and owned then by Ralph and Elaine Reed. The Reeds planted five maple trees along the driveway which have grown and created a very attractive entrance to our house, especially in the fall. Thus the trees are 50+ years old. Today two of the five trees were taken down because they were mostly dead. The largest one is the 5th in from Leaport Road and overlooked where I park my truck. It just had to come down because otherwise a storm could easily bring some huge branches or the entire tree down on the truck and possibly our cars, too.
It took three men and a bucket truck right at four hours to cut the trees down and clean up their mess. They left the large logs for us because Ronnie and Robin Brown want them for their wood stove.
Today was also my day to do two jobs for Central UMC:
- In the morning I counted and made the deposit for this past week’s offerings. Central needs an average of $5,000 per week to make its budgeted expenses. Today the total offering was $2,450, $1,000 of which was from our neighboring church, Trinity Episcopal, for support of the soup ministry. Central’s finances have been seriously wounded by this virus. It seems that some people only give when they come to the sanctuary. That’s sad.
- My second CUMC job today was to pick up food from the Verona Food Bank and take it to Central for Wednesday’s Food Pantry. Again this week it took three of us in pickup trucks to get the entire load. Lynn rode along and helped check things off when we got to Central. There were lots of volunteers to make this happen. That’s encouraging.
Virginia was one of eight states listed on the news this morning as having an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. Also in the news is the story in California where public health officials have notified more than 180 people that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus at a religious service held in violation of the state’s stay-at-home order. An attendee at the service tested positive for the virus a day after the event.
Wow, J.C Penney has now filed for bankruptcy. This department store has been around for 118 years. I feel sure the one at the Staunton Mall will close as they reorganize under Chapter 11. When we’ve been there it has seemed like they had more employees than customers. The store at the Harrisonburg mall has been much busier.
After we got back from the Food Bank delivery, Lynn and I loaded the truck with trash and headed to Ann’s house to get theirs. We got to see Henry, Gus, Betsy, Freddie, and Ann. All looked really good. Henry is so grown up now. He has a good start to a beard and showed off how his vertical leap had improved over the summer by reaching above and grabbing the rim on their basketball goal.
The rain somewhat brought Lynn and me to a standstill. I’ve got several projects to do but all are outside. Lynn doesn’t have any project on the front burner now though she did pick up one today. One of her friends, Cheryl Wright, stopped by the house with some material for Lynn to make masks for Cheryl’s friends.
We did manage to squeeze in a walk this morning, our 2.6 mile neighborhood hike. The forecast for the remainder of the week, Tuesday through Friday, is for heavy rain. Yuk! It was particularly disappointing after dinner when the hourly forecast only called for cloudy skies; meanwhile, outside it rained without stopping.
Just when you couldn’t believe he’d do another stupid thing, President Donald Trump today told reporters he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he’s touted as a possible “game changer” treatment for COVID-19. Fact is, it has not been proven to be effective against coronavirus whereas it has been linked to heart rhythm problems. He said he’d been taking a pill each day for the past week and a half. You might wonder if it has had any effect on his mind but it is already warped behind repair. Trump said he was taking the drug as a preventative even though there is no scientific evidence that it can prevent or treat COVID-19.
Some good news about vaccines on tonight’s news. An American company, Moderna, said all 45 of their test cases who took the vaccine produce the same level of antibodies as those who have had COVID-19. They are saying their drug can be ready by the end of the year.
World 4,882,580 319,671
US 1,546,419 91,764
Virginia 31,140 1,014
Augusta County 85 1
May 19, 2020
Growing up, one of my favorite singing groups was the Carpenters who sang “Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down.” That was certainly the case yesterday for me. Not only was it a rainy Monday, it was the first day since mid-March that Lynn and I had not walked more than a couple of miles. Today’s forecast was for more of the same.
Pre-COVID-19 Lynn and I would have walked on a rainy day at the Staunton or Harrisonburg mall. Now there’s nowhere indoors we’d feel safe walking. If the Staunton Mall were open it would probably be safe there because there was just about no one there even before the virus hit.
Our schedule for the next several days had virtually nothing on it and with the rain there was little hope for anything but boredom. But I noticed on the weather map that this storm was moving in an unusual direction, northwest. Our area was right on the edge of the storm throughout the day whereas places northeast of here looked to be in the clear. Given our desire to walk, I looked for a good hiking location within a reasonable drive for us to take.
I found Shenandoah River State Park on the map. It is a 75 minute drive from here. The website showed many miles of trails to walk on and the weather map showed nothing but cloudy weather there the next couple of days. We had never been to this park before. It is north of Luray in Bentonville VA. Important to me, I called the park and asked if their restrooms were open and was told that they were.
Lynn had a few chores to take care of including baking some bread so we opted for doing the park on Wednesday. So tomorrow I’ll be writing about our experience there.
For today, we managed to get in three walks either during the light rain or between showers. For us to get 6.5+ miles of walking in on a day in which the hourly forecast had the word “rain” every single hour, we did well.
We had disturbing news tonight: an employee at The Legacy, where Lynn’s 100 year old mother resides, has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is quarantined at home. That’s all we know about the situation.
World 4,982,875 324,535
US 1,570,583 93,533
Virginia 32,145 1,041
Augusta County 87 1
I hope I’m not naive (that is, believing the data) but the number of local cases keeps going up but there is still only one person listed as dying from COVID-19. If the fatality rate is 1% that’s not bad (unless you’re in the 1%).
May 20, 2020
It has now been one month that I have been writing this blog. Though I’ve written a lot, the fact is, very little has happened during the month. Everything is basically the same as it was on April 20 except there are many, many more cases of COVID-19 and a few quarantine restrictions being eased. There’s still no end to this in sight, alas. Life wasn’t fun on April 20 and it isn’t much fun now, either.
The plans to go to Shenandoah River State Park fell through as the weather forecast improved. Rain was not forecast until 3:00 so we thought it was foolish to drive 75 minutes just to walk when we could walk in our neighborhood. Plus we came up with several errands for the morning.
Our first errand was at Aldi’s grocery store in Staunton. Lynn had a list of groceries to get there. As I’ve said before, that store seems to be a safe place for her to shop in. After getting the groceries we came home then headed to Waynesboro. It turns out that there were some groceries that the Staunton Aldi’s didn’t have so we first stopped at the Waynesboro Aldi’s. Then we drove to the Wells Fargo bank in Waynesboro where I got the cashier’s check for the Hill scholarship. Not far away was Kroger’s for gas. Then we drove to the house of her tutor student, Juan Pablo, whose birthday was today. She had a card for him plus some cash and chocolate. Our last stop coming home was at the Mount Sidney post office where I mailed the check and accompanying letter to the scholarship recipient as certified mail.
The weather this May has not been favorable. Today’s high was around 53o which is 20 degrees below normal. On our first walk of the day I wore a winter coat and winter toboggan. We did the 3.7 mile Leaport loop. At least it didn’t rain.
After our walk we treated ourselves to a delicious snack of Lynn’s Mother’s Day cake. It rained a little but once it stopped we drove to the middle school for our second walk of the day. We walked a little over 2 miles which made our total for the day close to six miles. We quit just in time before it started raining again.
We use the app Dark Sky to get weather forecasts. It gives you minute by minute predictions such as “rain starting in 13 minutes, ending 55 minutes later.” It is usually pretty accurate.
One item we had ordered arrived last evening: the new Apple TV. With the new model (we also have the old one) we can watch the Disney+ channels plus Netflix. I set it all up on our bedroom tv last night and we celebrated by watching the movie “Jersey Boys.” We’ve seen the play a couple of times but the music was still good on the movie.
Betsy is still doing dance lessons this spring thanks to Zoom. Unfortunately, the internet at her house isn’t great so the past two days she’s come to our family room in the basement so she can participate. Lynn and I keep our social distance, of course. I’m so glad she is still doing this. She loves it and it gives her something active to do.
In the news today, the pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 325,000 people worldwide. Over 4.9 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19 according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. With an increase of 106,000 COVID-19 cases worldwide in the last day, the globe is experiencing its highest one-day increase since the outbreak began. So we should re-open everything because we’ve got this disease under control, huh?
Today’s COVID-19 stats:
World 5,069,110 328,854
US 1,588,713 94,848
Virginia 32,908 1,074
Augusta County 88 1
With the US number of death rising at over 1,000 each day there’s no doubt that the total will exceed 100,000 before the end of the month. More bad news is that there is widespread flooding in several states. In Michigan, for example, people are under quarantine orders to stay home yet their homes are being swept away by flooding.
Better news is that a study released today says that people who have had the virus and have its antibodies do have some sort of immunity. It isn’t known for how long this lasts. There are many tests on the market for antibodies but many of them give bad results.
Today was Wednesday so at 7:30 we did our weekly family Zoom. Jim’s family wasn’t able to join us because he was tied up helping someone with a high water issue. Roanoke has had a ton of rain this week. It was good to see the others.
May 21, 2020
Another cold, rainy May day…high of 57o with rain nearly every hour. We did manage to find a little time to walk and actually got almost 4.5 miles in using two separate hikes. With the cold and mist it wasn’t much fun.
Actually our day started with two trips away from home. We did our regular Thursday morning Walmart pickup at 7:30 then dropped off the usual saltine boxes at Central for the soup project.
Just as we got home we got a text from Jim asking us if we could run to Waynesboro to Harbor Freight and purchase two basement pumps for him then drive down I-81 to meet him. It turns out that the house of his friends that he was looking after was taking on water. Roanoke has been especially hard hit with the recent storm. All of the Roanoke area stores were sold out of pumps as people scrambled to get rid of the water. He was able to locate two in Waynesboro which were being held for us.
We immediately left and were able to get the two pumps. We both went inside the store in case we had to purchase them individually and use his 20% off discount but it turned out that wasn’t the case. However this did mark the first time in around eight weeks that I had been inside a retail store though it seemed very safe with people wearing masks and maintaining distance.
Soon thereafter we were headed south on I-81 to meet him. We did so at the exit just north of Lexington. He had been up since 3:00 AM as a neighbor of his friends had called him reporting that the Roanoke River which borders the friends’ house was rising. His friends were out of town so he was left to care for their house. He got one pump of theirs going but quickly realized that others were needed. That’s why he had called the Waynesboro Harbor Freight and made the arrangements.
We later called him to see if they were working OK and he said one was fine but the other wasn’t working well but the situation seemed to be taken care of. In the meantime, his own basement was taking on some water though he does have a sump pump to care for at least part of it. He’s really having it tough this week and we feel very sorry for him. I’m glad we were able to help him a little.
In the news tonight, Dr. Fauci said it is very likely that there would be a second wave of the virus but President Trump said the country would not close again. The CDC said that the virus does not spread by touch nearly as much as by respiratory methods. A new study by Columbia University said that up to 36,000 lives could have been saved had the US acted sooner.
President Trump visited a Ford factory in Michigan today. Everyone in the plant had on masks except for him. What an example!
World 5,188,041 334,012
US 1,619,477 96,242
Virginia 34,137 1,099
Augusta County 85 1
I’m not sure why Augusta County’s number infected went down from the previous day. Virginia’s total was considerably higher today. It seems that the Democrats were so good at starting the “coronavirus hoax” that it was able to infect over five million people in the world.
The extended forecast is hardly one to look forward to. In the next 15 upcoming days there are zero days listed as clear. Ten list rain as possible at least part of the time. 😦
May 22, 2020
The big news of the day is that my sister e-mailed me to say that our nephew, Vic, is engaged. Vic is 45. His fiancé Amy is 40. Neither has been married before. Vic is a really cool nephew and Amy is a great addition to our family. Wonderful news! They’re going to wait a year or so until this pandemic has passed to have the wedding. It will be quite a gala. I hope we can attend.
Lynn and I have eaten some varied and delicious dinners during this pandemic. We generally have the same thing two nights in a row since there’s just the two of us. But the same compliments do not apply to our breakfasts nor lunches. We eat exactly the same thing every day for both.
For breakfast, we always have toast. Lynn puts avocado on hers and I put preserves on mine. The only variety we have is what kind of bread she toasts. Lately she has been making lots of sour dough bread which does make for tasty toast. I always make iced tea for her and, of course, coffee for me. My preserves lately have been strawberry which she made. She made several pints of strawberry preserves so I’ll be eating that for weeks and weeks to come. That works for me.
For lunch, again we eat the same thing. Lynn only eats yogurt and she is very, very picky about what kind of yogurt it is. It must be Chobani Flip Low-fat Greek Yogurt, Almond Coco Loco flavor. She accepts no substitutes. I eat cheap yogurt from Aldi’s and vary my flavors among peach, strawberry, blueberry, etc. And I always eat an apple. 90% of the time I eat a Golden Delicious apple–the best apple there is, in my opinion. Sometimes I substitute a Pink Lady. And I finish with a couple of cookies. I’m addicted to that dessert.
The weather today was finally the way it should be in May: highs in the low 70’s with lots of sunshine. As a result, I did a good bit of outside work. I used my weedeater all around the yard then hopped on my Husqvarna and got the entire lawn mowed.
The weather was also conducive to walking. In the morning we did our 2.7 hike and in the afternoon we did the 3.7 Leaport loop. Between we both did a good bit of walking in the yard and house. After supper we tacked on another mile with a hike to Mount Pisgah UMC and back. We ended up with eight miles traveled today. Not bad for two old people!
For dinner we had chicken tenders which Lynn fried along with corn on the cob. Plus, again we had a great salad topped with poppy seed dressing. And since we were both hot from our afternoon walk, Lynn also made the wine slushies with white wine, frozen strawberries, and simple syrup. You can see what I mean when I write that we have varied and delicious dinners.
The daily count:
World 5,295,462 339,320
US 1,643,585 97,590
Virginia 34,950 1,136
Augusta County 86 1
I think you could say we had this under control if the number of cases was dropping but that is clearly not the case as these numbers show. Every day there are around 1,500 new deaths in the US. We will likely hit the 100,000 mark before Memorial Day.
May 23, 2020
Finally, a beautiful day. There was plenty of blue in the skies and the temperatures in the 70’s. This is the way I remember May. Too bad the month is almost over.
The weather was certainly good enough for a walk. Our morning walk was a little longer than usual, 3.0 miles. As I’ve written before, the only problem with walking around our neighborhood is that there is little shade. Though the temperature was good, we still would have appreciated more shade as we walked today.
Lynn got news this morning that the father of one of her good friends had passed away. Mr. Kyle lived at The Legacy and, pre-COVID-19, always ate dinner with Lynn’s Mom. As we walked this morning we talked about one negative about living to be old–you have to learn to live with loss. This is the third of Mrs. Hanger’s dinner mates who has passed away recently. We’re not sure how she’ll take the news.
The weather was also good enough for mulching. I made a dent in our huge driveway pile, spreading around 20 wheelbarrow loads around trees in our front yard. The pile is still large. My goal is to have an empty driveway by June 1. I’ll probably end up transferring most of it to under the large maple tree in our back yard.
We still haven’t had Ann’s family over for dinner in months but at least we’ve been able to see them from time to time. Last night Henry and Gus came over with Ann so they could have a Zoom session with the church youth group. Ann had some work to do for her job a well. Our internet connection is faster so they came here to get it all done. We had a few minutes to chat one-on-one with Henry and Gus on our back porch. Both boys are growing up. I am superbly proud of them.
The Gutshall kids are lucky to have all four grandparents nearby and all four keenly interested and involved with their childhood. I never knew two of my four grandparents, the Hill grandparents, and lost my maternal grandfather, Joe Cook, when I was just 12. I was blessed to have been around my maternal grandmother, Frankie Cook, until she died in 1985.
The daily statistics:
World 5,428,247 344,422
US 1,666,829 98,683
Virginia 35,749 1,159
Augusta County 89 1
We continued walking and walking today–our final tally was 8.6 miles made on three walks. This doesn’t say so much for our athleticism as it does our boredom. Lynn is especially bored right now. You know we don’t have much to do when we end up walking over 2.5 hours in a day.
Lynn is such an amazing walker. No part of her ever hurts. I am frequently sore and tired. My back aches sometimes. But she just keeps walking and walking and never complains about pain. That’s what I mean when I say she has Hanger legs.
May 24, 2020
One point of hope in our area is that there have been zero Augusta County deaths in the past month. On April 23 there were 33 cases of COVID-19 and one death. Now, a month later, there are 89 cases but still only the one death.
This was an uneventful Sunday morning. After breakfast we did a few minor chores then took our morning walk, the 2.6 mile hike in our neighborhood. The weather was very nice with the temperature around 70o.
After lunch our day turned to be quite a bit different. Lynn wanted to go to the Michael’s in Waynesboro to buy some items that were on sale there. As we turned into the parking lot we were both astounded by the huge line of people we saw. The 60-100 people we saw standing in line weren’t for Michael’s, they were for Ross’ store. The line went from Ross’ down the sidewalk past. Michael’s and on near the pet store. The people were side-by-side, not socially distant, and 95% were without masks. I remain totally at a loss for this behavior. Why did so many people need to get in a cheap clothing store? Lynn even found on line that the store was allowing 100 people at a time in. That alone would make it crowded without the mass of people waiting outside. And why weren’t people wearing masks and staying six feet apart? I guess they were just following our President’s example.
Lynn was able to pre-order her items from Michael’s so they were ready when we pulled up to the store but she still wanted to go in to buy an American flag for our front porch. The one we have is quite tattered. She was able to get the flag and her pre-order in a very safe manner. Unlike the line outside the Michael’s door waiting for the Ross store, she reported that everyone inside Michael’s was wearing a mask and staying apart.
Once her shopping was done we took advantage of being in Waynesboro to check out the South River Greenway. The Greenway is a one mile multi-use paved path that runs beside South River. We walked up and back, adding two miles to our daily total. It was a very pleasant walk and completely level, something we’re not used to.
We got back home just in time to beat an afternoon shower. Lucky us!
We had spare time in the afternoon so we watched a Netflix special documentary “Becoming” about Michelle Obama. She was a great first lady with so much knowledge and class. We haven’t seen anything like that since 2016. We also watched a Netflix movie last night “The Wrong Missy.” It was somewhat funny but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day to honor those who died in military service. My mother and father each had a younger brother who died during World War II in the Pacific. Mom’s brother was Tech Sgt. Joseph Donald Cook, an airplane pilot who went down in Guadalcanal in 1942. Dad’s brother was Sgt. Howell “Skee” Hill who died during the invasion of Iowa Jima in 1945. Both were in the U.S. Marines.
COVID-19 is raging in Brazil now. Travel from Brazil to the US has now been halted. Guess where Lynn and I were scheduled to travel to this coming September? We have until this coming Saturday to cancel this trip without penalty. This will be an easy decision for us. Maybe in 2021?
World 5,487,354 346,255
US 1,684,735 99,267
Virginia 36,244 1,171
Augusta County 90 1
Our third and final walk of the day was a hike around the course at Stewart Middle School. We did a few variations of the track and ended the day with seven miles under our belts.
May 25, 2020
I made a prediction to Lynn while we were walking this morning that I want to put into writing. I predict that by November 3, Election Day, Trump will announce that a vaccine is ready for Americans. Now I’m not saying that there will be a successful vaccine by then, I’m just saying that Trump will claim there is one so he can win the election. Furthermore, I predict that he will name the vaccine the Trump Vaccine. He’ll want to take credit for it just as Jonas Salk gets credit for the polio vaccine. He’ll say that his Operation Warp Speed is what made it happen and will fail to mention the immunologists and researchers who actually do the work on it. According to all I’ve heard since this race for a vaccine started, it is highly unlikely that an effective one can be developed by that time but that won’t stop him from claiming that one is there thanks to him.
Such an announcement would also supercharge the economy, something he is definitely trying to do. After all, his only field of success in the first three years of his presidency has been the stock market though it was already trending upward before he took office. His claim to Make America Great Again, like his mantra to Drain the Swamp, has not even come close to fulfillment. His motto should have been Make America Hate again.
We had a very pleasant walk for our morning hike today. We did the 2.6 short walk we frequently take in the mornings. Both of us don’t like to be too far away from our bathrooms when we take the morning walk. The afternoon and evening walks suit our bladders better.
Two things I have pretty much abandoned during our quarantine are tennis and playing the piano. I wrote on May 11 about how strange it was to not be playing tennis when I’d been playing three times a week prior to the pandemic. I just haven’t felt like playing the piano. Before the pandemic, I would play the piano for our Sunday School class every Sunday morning and occasionally filled in for Central’s morning worship services. In fact, I had agreed to play the piano once per month for Augusta Street United Methodist Church’s services though this never happened because the quarantine hit before I had a chance to play there. Augusta Street is a black church in downtown Staunton. Earlier this spring I had helped some of our Central United Methodist Men do some work at Augusta Street when someone there mentioned that they had no one to play the piano. I don’t think they usually had more than 15-20 attend on a given Sunday morning. Anyway, I agreed to play on the first Sunday of each month. We were out of town on the first Sunday of March then COVID-19 hit.
Today might have been a holiday but I worked my butt off. The huge pile of mulch in our driveway is no more! I loaded and moved over 35 wheelbarrow loads today. Most of it went under our large maple tree in the backyard. I also mulched under our huge oak tree in the front yard. Yippee! My back is so, so sore. I still have some spreading to do under the maple tree but that should not be hard.
It was quite hot when I came in so I drank a huge glass of water. For most of my life, I was not a water drinker. I took it up deliberately three years ago when I desired to lose weight. I still don’t drink much because my prostate would just interpret that as another reason why I should be in the bathroom. Our water is well water. It always tastes great; today it was especially good. Adding to my enjoyment were ice cubes from our new refrigerator.
Yes, today I’ve enjoyed three of the things I like about 296 Leaport Road: the water, the oak tree in the front yard, and the maple tree in the backyard. Oh, I’m fine with our house, too. It’s no mansion but suits me just right. I’ll quote my Dad here…my next planned move is six feet under.
When I worked for Rockingham County Public Schools I got to know one of the School Board members pretty well, Lowell Fulk. Lowell is a devoted Facebook user with multiple posts each day. Today he reposted a note from a JMU biology professor, James B. Herrick, which follows. This just shows that I am not the only one who believes this pandemic is far from over:
This is just a reminder that, with regard to the new coronavirus, very little has changed. There is no cure, no vaccine, no very effective treatment. In many places we have succeeded in flattening the (exponential spread) curve sufficiently that our health care system hasn’t been overwhelmed. But the virus really has hardly begun its spread. For example, Northern VA and the DC metro area is the new number one hot spot in the country, with cases rising rapidly (for still unknown reasons). And the virus is just beginning its spread into rural areas. Remember, right now there’s essentially nothing but our behavior that can slow this. It’s not going away.
In my area for example, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, cases are still rising. My friend, an OB-GYN, told us today that he currently has two COVID positive mothers in the hospital and in labor. One of them got it from attending church (defying the law here, apparently) two weeks ago, and her father-in-law is now in the ICU here. And these are only a few of the many currently in our little local hospital.
We’ve got to be very very careful with this. The U.S. botched the run up to the nationwide lockdown in March: sitting on our (the leaders’) hands through January and February cost thousands of lives, apparently. Now the United States — which leads the world in the number and quality of infectious disease microbiologists, virologists, epidemiologists, etc. — has the dubious distinction of having by far the most COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world.
Please, don’t be stupid. Be patient. This will be a marathon… .
I like the way he thinks.
I don’t remember a day in which I’ve done so much physical work/exercise. Besides all the wheelbarrow loads of mulch I moved today, I also tilled the garden to make ready for the 20 tomato plants Lynn and I bought today at a nursery. It was hot in the afternoon so we decided to drive and see if we could find tomato plants at this late date. It turns out that a nursery near Fishersville had lots of them so I prepared the garden for them. I hope to get them planted tomorrow.
Lynn and I also walked eight miles today. As usual, we did it in three sessions. The afternoon session was the 3.7 mile Leaport loop. It was about 77 degrees when we did that one so we were whipped when we got back shortly before dinner. After dinner we did a short one mile cool-down walk at Stewart Middle.
Today’s numbers show why Virginia is still considered one of a handful of states which has not seen a drop in its COVID-19 numbers:
World 5,582,404 347,563
US 1,706,190 99,804
Virginia 37,727 1,208
Augusta County 93 1
Tonight I found an article on the website http://missingmarines.com/joseph-d-cook about my uncle Don who died in World War II.. Here is the text:
Technical Sergeant Joseph Cook was a scout-bomber pilot assigned to VMSB-141, part of the “Cactus Air Force” that operated out of Guadalcanal. Cook and Staff Sergeant William “Tom” Campbell were lost on a flight out of Henderson Field. Although reported missing on 8 October 1942, they appear to have taken part in an early morning strike against a fleet of six Japanese warships on 9 October. Their bomber (SBD-3 Bureau Number 03257) was hit by antiaircraft fire while in its dive; still, Cook managed to release the bomb and was credited with a possible hit on a cruiser before crashing. Cook and Campbell were both declared dead on 19 February 1945.
May 26, 2020
This day was so busy I didn’t have any time to write until bedtime. That’s unusual for this pandemic era.
Much of the day was spent doing things for Central United Methodist Church. It began with counting the income at 9:00. Ordinarily Sam Richardson and I do this on the Mondays after the 3rd and 4th Sundays of the month. But this month Memorial Day was the 4th Monday so the banks were closed and we couldn’t make the deposit until today. So we met and got the deposit done. Without having Sunday services (11 consecutive weeks now without services) we only have to deposit a handful of checks that were mailed in. Some of us choose to make our offerings online but, to be honest, many apparently choose to not give when there’s no collection taken. That’s sad.
I got back in time to take a morning walk with Lynn. We did our usual 2.6 mile hike. The weather was warm but not too hot.
We didn’t take our second walk until after dinner. That’s unusual for us but the afternoon was filled with activities. We walked the Leaport loop and ended up the day with 6.85 miles. I’ll admit that this walk was tough for me even though we’ve walked that loop more than 30 times in the past few months. The hills seemed especially long this evening. At least there was shade on the first 2/3 of the loop. The last mile was not easy.
I’m not going to complain and complain about my aches but I will say that my back was quite sore tonight, probably from the mulch work I did yesterday. My legs don’t seem to mind the long walks but my back hurts.
I had two CUMC meetings this afternoon. I was in charge of the first one, the Finance Committee, which met via Zoom. For the second, the Church Council, I am the secretary so I have to try to keep up with the minutes while Zooming. I always like to send the minutes out for people to edit immediately after the meeting and was able to do so again today.
I only did a few outside jobs today. I planted our 20 tomato plants this morning before going to Central to count. Tonight I watered them well. I also hosed off the driveway where the mulch had been sitting for weeks. It is pretty much back to normal now.
Our hearts are with our friend Sandy Porterfield tonight who is waiting to check into a hospital in Greenville NC where she is to undergo a spinal tap and possibly other tests. It is a scary time for her and her husband Paul and all of their family. We’ve spent a lot of time with the Porterfields in the past three years and hope her tests show nothing major.
I barely caught the news today so I can’t report what’s new. The news has been so similar for the past eleven weeks that I can’t imagine it was much different this evening.
Here are the coronavirus statistics for the day:
World 5,678,357 351,666
US 1,725,489 100,573
Virginia 39,342 1,236
Augusta County 100 1
As you can see, there were two milestones reached today. America’s death total topped 100,000 according to http://worldometers.info. The CDC says the death total is 98,261 but either way it is approximately 100,000, The other milestone is that Augusta County hit the 100th infection. This still pales in comparison to neighboring Rockingham County which has 478 cases and 6 deaths plus Harrisonburg City which has 742 cases and 21 deaths.
President Trump is hell bent on opening up the country. He tweeted today that the stock market was up and “states should open up ASAP.” Can he not read that 100,000 Americans have died because of this virus? Does he not care? Why does he constantly ignore the advice of epidemiologists and other medical experts? Trump also continued to threaten to Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, that if he doesn’t guarantee “within a week” that restrictions in the state will be lifted by August, the Republican National Committee might move its 2020 convention to another state. He wants to have a raucous convention when he is nominated as the Republican candidate. He doesn’t want social distancing to keep his convention safe; he is more interested in having it like a loud car race.
May 27, 2020
Today began with another round of pressure washing. I discovered a few places on our brick that I had overlooked the last time I used the washer so I got it out early and took care of these places. I was finished by 9:00.
The morning was great for walking. We hiked our normal morning walk. In the early afternoon we did the Leaport loop. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as big a chore today as it was last evening. I don’t know if it was the time of day, the fact that I didn’t do as much physical work before, or a change of shoes, but for some reason the hike didn’t hurt like it did yesterday. I waited until after the walk to do my outside work which involved cutting the grass.
I’m trying to get our back yard to look better because we’ve invited our Covenant group at Central, four other couples, over Sunday night for a socially distant meeting. We told them that in order for all of us to be safe, it was a BYOE meeting: Bring Your Own Everything (chairs, snacks, drinks, etc.). We’ve already heard back from three of the four that they’ll be here. The weather forecast looks good for a back yard get-together.
We officially moved our Brazil – Argentina vacation scheduled for September 2020 to 2021 today. Right now all travel to Brazil is banned as that country is experiencing a horrible outbreak of COVID-19. Like everything else, this vacation will just have to wait.
By every count the US total deaths from COVID-19 passed 100,000 today. ABC news tonight highlighted the lives of some of them: a high school football coach, a five year old Kindergartener, an elderly Jewish lady who had survived the German concentration camps, a US army veteran and automotive engineer, a black nursing instructor, a Texas police officer, a mother who gave birth but didn’t live to meet her daughter, a minister, a Verizon field technician, a paramedic, and a 100 year old man who lost his twin brother in 1920 to the Spanish flu pandemic. So tragic!
Dr. Fauci said he thought it was possible to have a vaccine by the end of the year. But we’re a long, long away from then. It took just three months for 100,000 people to die; there are still seven months left in 2020.
World 5,780,168 356,778
US 1,744,931 102,055
Virginia 40,249 1,281
Augusta County 102 1
Virginia is one of fourteen states in which the number of cases has not started decreasing.
This is Wednesday so the day ended with our weekly family Zoom. Ann’s family couldn’t join but the others were there.
Our walk total for the day was 8.0 miles including a couple at the middle school after dinner. Again, not bad for two old people.
May 28, 2020
Our friend Ronnie Brown stopped by to get some of the wood from our downed maple trees early today. He cut the larger pieces while I loaded onto his truck. He got about half of it; the remaining pieces are so large he’s going to have to bring his splitter back next week in order to get them to manageable size.
With our Covenant Group coming over Sunday night, I saw the need to improve the back of our house a little more so today I attempted to patch a few spots in our back porch and wall concrete using a concrete patch tube (like a caulking tube) from Walmart. I also raked up a bunch of leaves which were outside our basement door.
This was done after our morning walk (the usual 2.6 mile hike) and a trip to three grocery stores. We had curbside pickup orders ready at Walmart and Kroger. These were scheduled early so Lynn could be at Aldi’s in time for the senior hour. As usual, she was the first one in the door.
We’ve been coordinating a favor for friends of ours. John and Eileen Myers moved to Staunton a year or so ago. John chose Central UMC as his church; Eileen is Catholic. John has been very regular in attendance, support, and volunteering at church. Two days ago Eileen fell and broke her arm in two places. Surgery was this morning. We made arrangements with them to bring their dinner to them from a Staunton restaurant of their choosing–New York Flying Pizza. They’re part of our Covenant Group and we hope they will be able to come Sunday night.
Other friends of ours are on our minds today, too. I wrote on May 26 about Sandy Porterfield scheduled to go through some tests. She checked into the hospital earlier this week and has had a CT scan, spinal tap, and COVID-19 test. She is having a cerebral angiogram today. She’s been texting with Lynn all week and reports that all tests have come back negative thus far. This morning we called her husband Paul to see how he was doing. Of course, with the pandemic he isn’t even allowed to visit Sandy in the hospital. He reported that he is doing fine and hopes to bring her home tomorrow. They live in Grifton, NC.
Today is hot. The low temperature for the day is supposed to be 70o and the high 83o. With that forecast, we elected to turn the house air conditioner on for the first time this year. It feels great inside now. This will probably make it tougher on us to head outside to walk in the future.
Our world is changing. At one point we got three newspapers delivered here early each morning: Staunton News Leader, Waynesboro News Virginian, and Harrisonburg Daily News Record. The Waynesboro newspaper quit delivering to our area a while back. The Staunton Leader still delivers but has increased its cost astronomically. The DNR has come to us daily at a reasonable cost. For the past several years it is the only paper we’ve received each morning. In today’s mail we had a letter saying they were going to start delivering our newspaper to us via mail each day. This means we’ll get the paper much later in the day since our mail usually comes around 2:00 pm. But at least it is supposed to be same-day delivery. We’ll see….
Our governor has announced that beginning tomorrow, May 29, the has issued an executive order which requires that all patrons in the Commonwealth aged ten and over shall when entering, exiting, traveling through, and spending time inside the settings listed below cover their mouth and nose with a face covering, as described and recommended by the CDC:
- Personal care and personal grooming businesses
- All brick and mortar retail businesses, including both essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail businesses
- Food and beverage establishments
- Entertainment or recreation businesses. Face coverings shall also be required when patrons are outdoors at entertainment venues if a distance of six feet from every other person cannot be maintained.
- Train stations, bus stations, and intrastate public transportation, including buses, rideshares, trains, taxis, and cars for hire, as well as any waiting or congregating areas associated with boarding public transportation.
- Any other indoor place shared by groups of people who are in close proximity to each other. This restriction does not apply to persons while inside their residence or the personal residence of another. Face coverings may be removed to participate in a religious ritual.
- State or local government buildings when accessed for the purpose of securing public services, with the exception of students in daycare centers or participating in-person classes in K-12 education or institutions of higher education.
The executive order also states that all employees of essential retail businesses shall wear a face covering whenever working in customer facing areas. Enforcement of this order will be by the Virginia Department of Health, not by local police officers. Any willful violation or refusal, failure, or neglect to comply with this Order is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The exceptions are when a person is eating or drinking, using exercise equipment, people who are communicating with the hearing impaired, and anyone who has a medical condition that would prohibit wearing a mask.
I wonder how long it will take before there are demonstrations against this order?
We were bored this afternoon so I started looking online to find us a shady place to walk. I found the Augusta Springs Wetlands in the George Washington National Forest, a 35 minute drive from here. Its main trail was listed as handicap-accessible. We decided to give it a try.
The main trail was short, only 2/3 of a mile. However, it was a wonderful trail. Much of it was on plank-like bridges over the wetlands. There were multiple stations with information posted about the animals you might see. It was shady and level–great for a hot day. As we walked around the main trail we noticed two terminals for another trail called the Upland trail. On a map we saw that this trail was about 1.3 miles so we opted to take it. The trail itself was appropriately named–it went uphill a good bit. The bad part was that we’ve had a wet May and much of the trail was muddy. Lynn had on new tennis shoes so you know that didn’t sit well with her. Fortunately, in my car I had a container of soapy water and paper towels so when we got back I cleaned her shoes for her. We did end up walking a good bit and the weather was fine though hot.
Interestingly we got a call while hiking from our travel agent at AAA. He said he had an offer from the parent travel company about our canceled Puerto Rico trip. He e-mailed it to us. Basically it said we could cancel and get our money back less some fees or we could re-book for 2021 and receive a 25% bonus. We had already planned to rebook for 2021 so this made it even sweeter. We’re to call him back tomorrow; it seems like a no-brainer to us.
We got back just in time to get a call from John Myers that he and Eileen had just returned home from her surgery, so we called in their order to the pizza shop and added a pizza to the order for us. John was much appreciative for this; Eileen was still recovering so we didn’t see her. She had to undergo a general anesthetic for the operation.
When we got home Betsy was finishing up her dancing in our basement. We ate some of the pizza then decided it didn’t compare to our favorite Vito’s so we gave the rest of it to Ann for her family.
We had some good news this afternoon that Sandy Porterfield’s tests had come back all negative for issues. She is to conference with her doctor tomorrow morning then come home.
After our pizza we still had time for a third walk so, as usual, we did it at Stewart Middle School. We ended up with 7.65 miles today.
The daily figures are:
World 5,900,907 361,776
US 1,768,461 103,330
Virginia 41,401 1,338
Augusta County 105 1
This week Virginia’s deaths trended upward. Fortunately, this didn’t apply to Augusta County.
Joe Biden had a short tweet today:
100,000+ lives lost across the country
1,700,000+ confirmed U.S. cases
40,000,000+ unemployment claims filed
Donald Trump has failed our nation.
May 29, 2020
One thing I like about being healthy is that I have ambition. When I’m not feeling well I just don’t have the desire to do much but when I feel good like today I can knock off project after project. Today, between walks and meals, I did a good bit of touch-up painting on the back side of our house (so it will look good for our visitors on Sunday night) then I filled the spray canister twice with weed killer and sprayed under the maple tree, around the house and playset, and around the tennis court. Afterwards I weeded out our new tomato garden then pulled the extensions cords down to the tennis court and used my blower to get the court and surrounding fence free of debris. I also did some vacuuming as requested by Lynn and swept the garage corridor to our door.
In just two weeks we’ll celebrate 44 years of marriage. It took me years and years to learn one easy secret of a happy marriage: when you have a list of things to do always do the ones she’s requested first. That way they don’t get pushed to the back burner, undone, and an argument begins. It doesn’t take any longer to do your chores this way. Today, for example, when she asked me to get the vacuum I put down whatever I was fooling with and immediately got it. I even offered to vacuum the living room and she was fine with that. Later she asked me to bring up the wooden tv trays for Sunday night and I immediately did so. No argument, no real extra work on my part, and happy ending.
I’m assuming that she won’t read this (she never does unless I ask her to) so i can write that I also spent a good bit of time today finding a good anniversary card (actually I ordered two) on Hallmark’s website. It is so much easier to find them online than go into a store and look through their limited selection, pandemic or not. They should get here a week before our anniversary so I’ll even be on time with this. I also made her one since the ones I made for Valentine’s Day seemed to go over well.
I really don’t know how to express my gratitude to Lynn for all she’s done for me for these 44 years. She is a gem of a wife. She is smart, pretty, talented, industrious, and has a wonderful heart. How did I ever manage to hook up with someone this good? We have some incompatibilities such as coffee but basically we get along very, very well. Being locked up this close to someone for twelve weeks is certainly a test of marriage. I think we’ve passed the test. Lynn is exceptionally clean, friendly with everyone, and has a magnificent memory. If only she could forget some of my errors over these 44 years!
We officially rebooked our Puerto Rico vacation for 2021 today. The travel company is actually giving us a 25% bonus for doing so as opposed to canceling the trip. We’re taking it for granted that by this time next year the pandemic will be well in hand. That’s a big IF given the last four months.
We ordered some lilies to be taken to Sandy Porterfield today since she’s coming home. I’m not real sure what her final diagnosis was but at least the tests already run apparently came up with nothing significant.
The country is in disarray today over the brutal police killing of a black man in Minneapolis. The cop knelt on the man’s neck while being videotaped with him begging for air. It took three days for that policeman to be arrested. In the meantime there have been major protests in many cities. In some cases, buildings have been burned, police have doused protesters with tear gas, and the National Guard has been called in. It reminds me of the Watts riots of years ago. And what did our President do to help bring peace? He tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter classified the post as violent.
There are some things that I knew would be coming with old age: forgetting things, prostate issues, arthritis in my fingers, and going to bed early. But one thing I did not anticipate is having thin skin. It seems like I am always wearing bandaids now. If I bump into something the wrong way, shave too quickly, or scratch an itch too hard I start bleeding. Lynn has had to treat many of my clothes to get rid of blood stains. Today, for example, I have two cuts–one on my arm and one on my leg–from encounters I had with something that I don’t even recall. I’m not complaining too much; this is an inconvenience not a serious problem.
Here are today’s stats:
World 6,026,091 366,415
US 1,793,263 104,539
Virginia 42,533 1,358
Augusta County 105 1
It’s hard to find good news in these figures, especially given that there are now over 6 million people in the world infected with COVID-19. The bright spot is that Augusta County had no change from the previous day and Virginia had “only” twenty more deaths though the state did have more than a thousand new cases.
Infectious disease experts from the Emory University School of Medicine are warning that given the current rate of deaths per day, it is possible the U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus could double by September as restrictions are lifted throughout the summer, and Americans begin to congregate again. Several other studies had widely varied predictions.
Lynn and I managed to walk three times today. Our first walk was the typical Home-Mt. Pisgah-Leaport Road 1 mlle – Home hike of 2.6 miles. Then we didn’t walk again until late afternoon when we drove to Grottoes to walk at the town park. It was a nice 1.4 mile hike on level ground around the perimeter of the park on a gravel trail. There was some shade. Our third walk was after dinner when we walked around Stewart Middle’s track plus Fort Defiance High School’s track. We also circled both schools and ended up the day with 7.3 miles.
Our dinner tonight was take-out from one of our favorite hamburger places: the Old Schoolhouse Food Truck at Valley Pike. I had my usual Philly Cheesesteak Burger and Lynn had a Jalepeño Bacon Burger. We split an order of fries. We actually ate on our back porch and each had a refreshing Smirnoff’s Ice malt beverage.
We ended the day by watching a movie on Netflix, The Last Laugh. It was OK.
May 30, 2020
Bummer. Today was a beautiful day and we both had little we had to do. My only chore of the day was going to the dump. Lynn’s was making the pepperoni rolls. We both got them done early. It would have been a perfect day to hop in the car and head to one of our favorite places. But overnight travel outside the area is still something we haven’t done since the pandemic began.
We are considering it, though. We’ve done some checking into hotel policies, state parks, places to walk, places to eat, etc. in both the Abingdon VA and Morgantown WV areas. Both are favorites of ours. With our anniversary coming up in less than two weeks, we think we might try one of them, probably Abingdon. We didn’t make any definite plans yet but it looks like we might try this.
We did our usual morning walk this morning earlier than usual. The weather was nice with temperatures in the low 70’s. Our after lunch walk took us back to Grottoes Park. We did two laps around the 1.4 course making our total 5.3 miles by 1:30 pm.
While we were walking we had extraordinarily good news. My nephew Victor DeLeo is 45 years old, never married. On May 22 I wrote in this blog how my sister Mary Katherine called with the exciting news that he had proposed to his girlfriend, Amy Sullivan, and she said yes. Amy is 40. Well today Mary K. called and said that Amy is 11 weeks pregnant. This is especially good news for my sister because she’s still in remorse over the loss of her husband of 50 years, Denny, who died in a tree cutting accident last June. Now she has something to really look forward to. Vic is a really nice guy and Amy is such a good match for him.
Want to see two old people lick their plates, literally? Serve them some Smiley’s Death by Chocolate ice cream cake. No kidding, it is that good and yes, we do lick the plates.
Lynn made pepperoni rolls for us today. We’ll have them tonight and tomorrow. They will be good snacks to have when our Covenant group comes over. Yum!
Lynn reposted this on Facebook today:
Trump promised to make America Great Again. Four years later…pandemic…recession…mass unemployment…riots. Following that was a picture of Trump with the caption, “How am I doing?”
We drove back to Grottoes in the afternoon–our third trip there in two days. It is only a 20 minute drive. This time we went to Grand Caverns regional park because they have a shady walking trail like the Grottoes park. The one at Grand Caverns is a little shorter, about 0.9 mile, but is quite shady. Like the one a few miles away in Grottoes, it runs along the South River for part of the loop. So by 4:00 pm we had accumulated 7.3 miles.
I have two questions in my mind. One, what would we have done if this pandemic had started in the winter? As it is, the weather has been good for walking but it certainly isn’t during the winter. Furthermore, the number of hours of daylight are a lot less then. I guess we are lucky it started in March.
The second question is related: what will we do this coming winter if this pandemic is still going on? Right now we’ve got no possibilities for indoor exercise.
You can tell we are bored. Today we walked FOUR times, a record total of 10 miles, over 24,000 steps. We walked for over three hours. Our last walk today was twice around Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton. The road there had been recently paved so walking was easy. Also, there are no real hills in Gypsy Hill Park.
Here are today’s numbers:
World 6,149,733 370,497
US 1,816,122 105,548
Virginia 43,611 1,370
Augusta County 109 1
Virginia only had twelve deaths since the previous day so that’s better than in the past. It is still mind boggling that soon there will be over two million cases in the US.
As we have done several times in the past few weeks, we ended the day by watching a movie on Netflix. This time it was called The Invention of Lying. I would not recommend this movie at all.
May 31, 2020
We began the day by doing various cleaning chores around on in the kitchen. Then we took our usual morning walk of 2.6 miles. The weather was exceptional with temperatures in the mid 60’s and nothing but sunshine. It was perfect walking weather.
Today was our day to host the Covenant group in our backyard. There were ten of us present, five couples: Hills, Printys, Baumans, Myers, and Davis. We met from 7:00 – 8:30. By the time people left the temperatures had turned almost chilly. Jackets and blankets were in abundance. We had a very good time chatting.
Before our friends came Lynn and I did a LOT of cleaning even though we met outside. I disinfected my bathroom, cleaned off the chairs the kids gave us for our 40th anniversary, watered the tomatoes, and cleaned off the wooden tv trays in case anyone wanted to use them. Lynn made a tasty batch of the frozen strawberry wine slushies.
Of course, there was time to walk today. We did three walks in all including the 3.7 Leaport loop and a hike around the middle school track. Our total for the day was 8.5 miles. The weather was perfect all day which made walking easy.
The news today is filled with incidents of rioting and looting. Not all of the rioting was done by blacks due to the police brutally killing George Floyd in Minneapolis. I saw several videos on the nightly news and was surprised to see many rioters and looters were white, not black. There were apparently some white supremacists who were heavily involved with some of the destruction. The country is so tense right now, tense from stay-at-home orders, tense from COVID-19 fears, tense from racial discord, and tense from political differences. America is far from great right now.
Many of the protests are non-violent and lawful. But none show appropriate social distancing. You have to wonder how many flareups of coronavirus will result.
The news on COVID-19 is more of the same. Fifteen states show an increase in cases, including Virginia. The stats are as follows:
World 6,262,422 373,848
US 1,837,170 106,195
Virginia 44,607 1,375
Augusta County 109 1
I felt really badly for our daughter Ann today. She and Gus had stopped over to pick up his PS4 which had done an update at our house since we have a better internet connection. She told us that she and Josh were looking at a house which had recently come on the market not too far from here. She seemed excited about the possibility. Later she texted back that the house was under contract. I know this was very disappointing for her and her family. Let’s hope something else comes along.