November 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

November 1, 2021

For a change, I felt like doing things today and I did.  I was busy the entire day including a couple of physically-demanding chores.  But this day was very, very strange because I spent almost the entire day without Lynn.

We ate breakfast together then I headed for Central.  I wanted to get some Treasurer’s work done prior to 9:00 when Sam Richardson joined me to count yesterday’s offering.  I was mildly successful in getting all I wanted to do behind me.  Since today was the first day of a new month, I wanted to reconcile Central’s four bank accounts but I could only get two done because the October statements for two of the accounts weren’t available yet.  It usually takes First Bank in Staunton about one full day to get everything posted on-line.

So I hustled on home after making the deposits, the two reconciliations, and, as usual, entering the givings into the Servant Keeper software.  I didn’t have much time for lunch because I wanted to get the grass cut this afternoon because the weather was fantastic.

I only got about half of it done before 12:30 came.  I debated about returning to Central to help unload the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank truck with the food for this week’s Food Pantry.  Part of me wanted to stay and finish the grass.  But I read again where Caroline Jones said the order was huge so I ran back to Central.

I got there just as the truck was starting to unload the groceries.  Indeed, this was a huge order—over 2,600 pounds.  Usually there are several men and women who help transport the food from the parking lot into the Food Pantry where others stay in the Pantry, unpacking and shelving it.  There are at least a half dozen men who assist, from time to time, in transporting it from the parking lot to the Church.  Today I was the only man there.  This was the physically-exhausting activity I referenced at the beginning of this blog.  A few women helped with the transport but much of it was left to me and, thankfully, to the truck driver who assisted.  In the middle of all this unloading, a man showed up to do the elevator inspection and no one else knew how to find keys to the basement for him.  So I took a quick detour to help him then resumed carting food, much of it on a two-wheeled dolly.  I was plenty tired when the last case of food was moved indoors.

I didn’t stay to help shelve the food—there were plenty of volunteers there—because I really wanted to get the grass cut.  And, I had plans for going to the trash dump today because Ann had told me their trash was overloaded due to issues they had with their refrigerator.  I hustled home and cut the remaining grass except for a little push mowing.  Then I quickly threw our trash in the back of the truck and drove to Ann’s.  Fortunately, she was able to come home from work early and helped load the paper trash. 

I got to the dump and back home with about five minutes to spare before Freddie’s bus came.  Just enough time to get the push mower out and finish the grass cutting!  I could see Freddie’s bus coming down Leaport Road as I put the mower away and ran back to greet the bus.

Freddie and I played some basketball outside then went inside and played Wii-U.  He just clobbers me at every Wii-U game we play and seems to love his dominance.  I just grin and bear it.  At least I won one game of around-the-world on the basketball court though he did beat me at PIG.

By 4:30 we had more company.  Henry had come over to do another set of Calculus problems.  I knew from the topic he was studying that this would not be a short assignment.  He said it was due at the end of the day tomorrow.  And, Augusta County Schools doesn’t have school tomorrow, so he said he’d have time to finish if we didn’t get it all done.  There were 22 problems in the assignment, I believe.  We got 18 of them done though the last four were going to be quite long.  I told him to try them and, if he needs, I could help him with them tomorrow afternoon.

As I’ve written before, I enjoy working these problems with Henry.  The math comes back to me fairly rapidly.  Henry’s math skills are very, very good.  We always work the problems simultaneously and compare answers.   I’d say that 90% of the time we agree and are both correct.  Half of the time when we disagree I’ve made a careless mistake; the other half of the time he’s made the minor error.  But he knows what he’s doing.

After he left, I heated up some leftovers for my dinner.  Lynn had left home before I got home from Central this morning to go to John C. Myers Elementary where she interpreted for meetings the whole day. 

Tomorrow is the big gubernatorial election in Virginia.  The more I hear of the polling, the more I’m afraid Glenn Youngkin is going to beat Terry McAuliffe.  I don’t think Youngkin has been honest about his Trump connections and certainly don’t like his ideas of charter schools and no mask or vaccine mandates.  I think he’s pulled the wool over the eyes of Virginians who don’t see his Trump-like tendencies.

At least if the Democrats lose, there’s a way out.  Apparently the thing to do nowadays is to claim the election was stolen and keep preaching this over and over until people believe it.  No evidence of the steal is necessary.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 1         Infected                   Died

World             247,789,185           5,019,275   5,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     46,882,163              766,895   Only 600 new deaths since yesterday            

Virginia                 927,999                13,984   3,200 cases, 77 deaths since Friday                

Augusta County       10,191                     128   23 new cases, 2 new deaths since Friday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,551,524  (5,369,453 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.9% of the total population fully vaccinated)          .

            Augusta County        83,547 (39,553 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

November 2, 2021

This is the long-awaited election day.  As I am writing this relatively late in the evening, the Governor’s race is competitive though Youngkin has a rather large lead.  Only 51% of the vote has been counted thus far. 

My tennis got rained out today.  I was really hoping to play for the first time in a few weeks.  We’re going to try again on Thursday.

Lynn had two interpreting sessions scheduled but there was a no-show at one of them.  The only thing on my original agenda was tennis but when it got canceled I had time for other things.  For one, Lynn and I went to Central and got two boxes of food, one for Juan Pablo and the other for Connie Rohrer’s daughter, Missy.  We later delivered the boxes to Juan Pablo and Connie.

Betsy came over for some math help this morning.  Her work didn’t take long.  In the afternoon, Henry came over to finish his Calculus assignment we began yesterday.  We got it finished rather quickly even though the problems he had to work were long.

Tonight, in addition to delivering the food boxes, we went to Kroger for some groceries and to pick up a prescription for me.  The Medicare Part D (prescription) plan I have only allows me to get my prescriptions from Kroger.  That will change when I change plans during this month.  I’ve picked a different plan for next year which not only will save me money but will allow me to choose among Kroger in Staunton, Walgreens in Verona, or Costco in Harrisonburg.  Right now I’m not sure which one I’ll pick.  Kroger has messed up my prescriptions throughout this year; indeed, today they had only refilled one of my prescriptions despite the fact that I had called in for two.

My wonderful wife made me an apple pie today for my birthday.  She knows I love apple pie.  I had my first piece tonight after dinner.  Yum!  I don’t have anything scheduled special tomorrow.  Freddie’s bus comes at 3:15 and that’s the only thing on my calendar thus far.

Today the CDC approved vaccines for ages 5 – 11.  As soon as the head of it signs off, vaccinations can begin.  I’m not sure how quickly Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie will get theirs.  Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

November 2         Infected                   Died

World             248,218,929           5,027,402   5,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     46,983,059              768,568   1700 new deaths since yesterday       

Virginia                 929,244                14,020   1,200 cases, 36 deaths since yesterday           

Augusta County       10,195                     129   4 new cases, 1 new death since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,580,455  (5,374,259 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.0% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        83,638 (39,574 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.4% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

November 3, 2021

My 71st birthday!  I have to say that there is nothing special about turning 71.  No doors are opened because of that number, no new decade to celebrate, no break in costs for anything, just a feeling of getting older.

The day did begin great for me in that Lynn gave me three very sweet cards.  We didn’t have much time for breakfast, though, because she wanted to be at Aldi’s by 7:30 AM.  Cheryl Kent met us there.  Today was the first day their Advent calendars were put out and Lynn wanted a bunch of them.  She got two of the coffee calendars, four of the cheese calendars, one of the Hot Wheels calendars, and two Minecraft calendars.  They didn’t have the chocolate calendars she wanted.  Perhaps they will show up later.

From Aldi’s we went to the Dollar Tree as she was looking for some Christmas trees she found in Harrisonburg and Timberville.  Lynn loves the hunt, the looking and finding of items put on sale.  Unfortunately, she didn’t find more of the trees in Staunton.  She wants them for the annual Hill Christmas Party scheduled for December 18.

Our next stop was at Kroger where I waited twenty minutes for the pharmacy to open only to find out that the prescription they neglected to fill yesterday wasn’t ready.  After I spent a few minutes sitting down in their waiting area as it was supposedly being filled, the technician told me that they were out of this drug so it couldn’t be filled today.  She said they would get it in later today and I could get it tomorrow.  My experience is that I’ll go through all of this again tomorrow.  You can see why I’m anxious to switch my Medicare Part D (prescription) plan for 2022.

I’ve been alternating between mourning and anger today over the Virginia elections.  The Republicans won all three statewide offices by a couple of percentage points.  Just two years ago, Joe Biden beat Trump by 10 percentage points.  I believe Democratic Senators Manchin and Sinema are to blame for this embarrassment.  They have held up Biden’s agenda for a month now, leaving people to believe Democrats can’t get anything done.  It didn’t help that a month ago McAuliffe put his foot in his mouth when he said that parents shouldn’t have a say in what is taught in schools.  Youngkin did a good job of keeping Trump out of the state and at an arms length while welcoming his followers to vote for him.

The exit polls were very telling.  According to CNN, Youngkin carried male voters in this year’s election by a roughly 12-point margin, White women without college degrees by almost 50 points and White evangelicals by about 78 points.  In general, Youngkin won the white vote and the uneducated vote.  In this race, Democrats supported McAuliffe overwhelmingly as did Republicans supporting Youngkin.  The difference came in the independents where Youngkin had a 9 point victory.  Biden had beaten Trump by 19 points among the independents.

Of course, Trump took credit for the win.  The news media pointed out that Youngkin’s win was because he kept Trump out of the state and away from his messages.  McAuliffe did not do a good enough job of turning Youngkin into Trumpkin.

Almost as upsetting was that the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General spots also went to Republicans.  I found a picture of the new Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears supporting an AR-15.  Seriously, is this what we’ve come to?  I texted to our Family group text:  Well, the election didn’t go our way, no surprise.  I guess our next steps are to claim the election was stolen, keep repeating that for ten months, and soon everyone will believe this.  Of course, no proof of this claim is necessary.  

I did get nice birthday texts today from Kay, Josh, Becky Allen, and Gus.  I had Facebook birthday wishes from cousins Judie Allen, Greg Murphy, Bev Eller, Kay Grace, Lansing Hill, and Jo Sloan as well as Sandy Porterfield.

Lynn and I spent a major part of the day running from store to store.  Our first stop was at Smiley’s new store in Bridgewater for an ice cream lunch.  Then we went to the Dollar Tree in Dayton, followed up by Target in Harrisonburg, then Aldi’s in Harrisonburg.  We got home in time for Freddie’s bus.  Betsy came to our house after school, too.  She and I did some math together then Freddie and I played Wii-U.  You know what that means—I got clobbered again.   I took them home around 5:00.

Lynn had made me a wonderful apple pie for my birthday and I wanted to share it with Ann’s family.  So we invited them to eat a slice of the pie with us around 6:15 so Betsy would have plenty of time to make it to her play practice in Waynesboro.  After we finished off the pie, Lynn and I went to Staunton for dinner at The Depot.  She had her favorite Toosday Chicken Salad and I had a French dip sandwich.

Jim and boys connected with us via Facetime before we left for dinner.  Kay and kids did the same when we got back from Staunton.  It was certainly fun to see all of the grandchildren today.

It’s official; 5 – 11 year olds can get vaccinated now.  I hope Thomas, Georgia, and Faron get their shots soon.  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 3         Infected                   Died

World             248,680,276           5,035,010   8,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,053,560              769,954   1500 new deaths since yesterday       

Virginia                 930,679                14,052   1,400 cases, 32 deaths since yesterday           

Augusta County       10,234                     130   39 new cases, 1 new death since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,621,455  (5,374,235 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.0% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        83,819 (39,591 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.4% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

November 4, 2021

I had hoped to play tennis today but I ended up canceling it last evening when Lynn pointed out that if Juan Pablo didn’t back out of his tutoring session today, I’d have to take Betsy to dance because she couldn’t.  Juan Pablo has backed out over and over from these tutoring sessions so it was no surprise when he texted her this afternoon pulling out again.  But at least this time he had a legitimate excuse—he had to report to the police department to answer a summons as to why he was not attending school.  Neither Lynn nor I were surprised this came about.  He apparently has some depression issues but she hasn’t been able to help him much at all this year and he will very likely not graduate now.

I spent the morning at Central doing my Treasurer duties.  I finished reconciling all of the bank accounts.  They came out perfectly.  Then I did the October monthly reports.  Next I set up payroll for November 15.  Finally I got the mail where I found two bills which I then paid.   After finishing up at Central, I went to Kroger and picked up my prescription which they had bungled for the past two days.  Once I got there, Lynn let me know that Elizabeth said she would like to have a food box.  So I went back to Central and put together a box of food for her family.

This afternoon I spent a good deal of time making Henry a birthday treasure hunt.  What made his different from all the others I’ve done is that I used a former Calculus test of mine to create the questions.  I chose a test that I had given in 1988-89, the last year I taught it in high school, and created his treasure hunt using its questions.

In the meantime, Lynn had her Cheryl friends over for a chilly chat session outside.  Today was a very cold day with highs only in the 40’s.  Thankfully, the forecast for this weekend looks much better.  At the WVU – Oklahoma State football game on Saturday, Lynn and I should be sitting in sunny 58o weather.   We leave for Morgantown tomorrow morning.

Henry stopped by after his school because he wanted me to go with him to Simmons Auto so  a they could have a look at a busted exterior mirror case.  Apparently he got side swiped near his home and the case surrounding the drivers side mirror was broken.  We took both his and my car to Simmons because I had to leave by 4:10 in order to get Betsy to dance. 

I was able to get her there in time then I came back home and warmed up some food for dinner.  Lynn got home a little after 5:00 and we ate hurriedly because we then headed to Elizabeth’s to take her food to her.  Tonight, Clymore Elementary School was having a fund raiser at Smiley’s.  Freddie is the only grandchild left who attends Clymore but it turned out he was home without his two brothers (basketball open gym) and sister (play practice), so we picked him up and went to Smiley’s to support Clymore (and enjoy delicious ice cream).

Kay called this evening and told us that she was taking Thomas and Georgia to get their vaccines next Thursday.  Hurrah!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 4         Infected                   Died

World             249,306,445           5,044,371   9,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,185,878              772,240   2,300 new deaths since yesterday      

Virginia                 932,173                14,089   1,500 cases, 37 deaths since yesterday           

Augusta County       10,242                     130   8 new cases, no new deaths since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,653,636  (5,384,942 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.1% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        84,120 (39,630 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.4% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

November 5, 2021

This day was largely spent in the car.  We left home at 9:00 AM and didn’t settle back in to the hotel in Bridgeport until 9:00 PM.  Between that time, we did a lot of driving and shopping, driving and shopping, and eating.

Our first shopping stop was in Timberville where Lynn got some things at the Dollar Tree there.  Our next stop was a bathroom stop in Moorefield WV.  By noon we were in Cathedral Park in West Virginia where we had planned to walk but the temperature outside was 37o.  We did eat lunch on a picnic table there but didn’t walk.  Instead, we drove on to Masontown WV where Lynn had her eyes on a Christmas fair she had heard about last month.

The fair was at a barn several miles outside of town but it was the place to be!  There were hundreds of people there and we were told that on Thursday when the fair opened the lines just for checking out where three hours long.  The fair had 30 – 50 vendors’ merchandise, all Christmas oriented, laid out in several buildings.  We got a few items after 90 minutes of shopping.

Then we drove on to Morgantown where we stopped at an Aldi’s and a Target.  The Aldi’s had one item Lynn was looking for—a chocolate Advent calendar—but not the craft Advent calendar she wanted.  The Target didn’t have what she was looking for and neither did the one in Bridgeport WV we drove to next.  Then we drove to another Aldi’s where again we came away empty handed.

Finally we checked in at the Hampton Inn in Bridgeport then left immediately for Fairmont to eat dinner at Muriale’s restaurant.  This was a great decision.  Everything we had was excellent.  The bread was superb, the salads perhaps the best salads we’ve had in years, and my spaghetti and meatball and Lynn’s bruschetta were both delicious.  We had to wait an hour to be seated but it was worth it.

Our shopping wasn’t done…we went back to the mall in Bridgeport which turns out to be a very large mall where we walked and shopped some more.  The trunk of my car is getting more and more loaded!

We finally got back to the room near 9:00.  I hope the weather tomorrow feels a little warmer at the football game.  We both brought warm clothes just in case it isn’t.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 5         Infected                   Died

World             249,820,989           5,053,245   8,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,274,755              774,519   2,300 new deaths since yesterday      

Virginia                 933,542                14,125   1,400 cases, 36 deaths since yesterday           

Augusta County       10,262                     131   20 new cases, 1 new death since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,689,020  (5,390,098 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.1% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        84,243 (39,648 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.5% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  This number has only changed by 0.3% in the past week.

November 6, 2021

Twice in one week I’ve eaten a fine Italian restaurant meal then gone to bed.  In both cases, I woke with a terrible case of chills.  From 2:00 – 3:00 AM I didn’t sleep at all; I just shivered.  Finally I bumped up against Lynn’s warm body, woke her, and she kept me warm the rest of the night. 

The problem with chills and lack of sleep like this is that I wake up with zero energy and my bones and muscles aching.  I bought some Tylenol from the hotel and took some at breakfast which helped me a lot.

I felt so bad that all I did the rest of the morning was to serve as her taxi cab driver.  We drove all the way back to Morgantown so she could re-check out the Target there.  Plus she went to TJ Maxx and a Dollar Tree.  Then we drove to a different Aldi’s in Morgantown, then on to another Dollar Tree and a Dollar General in Morgantown.  Unfortunately, the items she was looking for weren’t available in any store.  So after spending the entire morning shopping in Morgantown (actually, she was the one who did the shopping; I stayed in the car the entire time), we drove back to the Hampton Inn in Bridgeport.

We weren’t there long before we headed back to Morgantown again.  This time we went to Apple Annie’s, a favorite restaurant of ours, for lunch.  We both ate a decent lunch there; Lynn had a Philly cheesesteak and I had a combo of ½ BLT sandwich and a bowl of chicken noodle soup.  We finished in plenty of time to get to the football game which had a 3:30 kickoff.

We elected to park in a shopping center not far from the football game which had a shuttle service to the game.  For $5 each, we were taken near to the stadium then picked up there after the game.  To be honest, the ride to the game was easy and quick; the ride after the game involved an hour’s wait thanks to bad traffic.

I was still not feeling great when we got to the game.  Several times on our way to our seats I had to stop and catch my breath.  As we had for the two other football games that were part of this three-game package, we had wonderful seats, fairly high up and on the 50 yard line.  We actually got to our seats 90 minutes before kickoff.  We opted to rent seat cushions from the Morgantown High School band which always rents them at games.   This was a good choice, not only because it gave us some back support but the cushions were a lot warmer to sit on than the cold bleachers were.

It was cold, but not bitterly cold.  The temperature was in the mid 50’s most of the game though it got noticeably colder near the end of the game when the sun had gone down.  We were both bundled up well.

The game did not go the way I had hoped.  To be honest, Oklahoma State dominated WVU.  We scored on our first possession, a field goal, but that was the only score we’d get the entire game.  WVU’s quarterback was sacked eight times.  The running game was a total failure.  There were a couple of fumbles WVU lost to Oklahoma State and an interception.  In general, we just got our butts kicked.  So I was disappointed when we headed out of the stadium with about 4 minutes still on the clock but I wasn’t angry.

As the day went on I got a little better.  I was able to walk from our seats in the stadium to the pickup point for the shuttle without having to pause.  I was determined to not eat a big dinner or anything which would keep me up tonight.  So, I had a Dairy Queen ice cream cone and a soft drink.  Lynn has a DQ Blizzard.

So I felt bad most of the day, we were unsuccessful at shopping, cold at the game, and disappointed with the football loss, but today wasn’t all a loss.  We got along well and were able to do nearly everything we had planned.  We had tentatively planned to go to Valley Falls State Park but it was too cold to go there in the morning and by the time the temperatures improved we were nowhere near the park.

I have to write how proud I was of Lynn this morning.  We were having a very light breakfast at the Hampton Inn.  There were about a dozen people eating.  She noticed that the big TV was set on Fox News so she asked at the main desk for the remote.  Soon we were watching MSNBC.  Judging from the looks around the room, this wasn’t what most people were accustomed to hearing for news (because it was the TRUE news, not FANTASY news).  However, no one asked to change it back.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

November 6         Infected                   Died

World             250,269,668           5,060,122   7,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,313,412              775,095   500 new deaths since yesterday         

Virginia                 933,542                14,125   NO UPDATES DUE TO WEEKEND           

Augusta County       10,262                     131   NO UPDATES DUE TO WEEKEND

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,720,550  (5,394,616 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.2% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        84,300 (39,657 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.5% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  This number has only changed by 0.3% in the past week.

November 7, 2021

The day began for us in Bridgeport WV and ended at home.  We had an extra hour of sleep last night thanks to the return to normal standard time.  I awoke early and was dressed and had worked my daily Sudoku and Whirly Word puzzles before Lynn got up.  At least I felt like getting up this morning compared to yesterday morning.

Lynn wanted to get some fabric from the Jo Ann Fabric store which was just a mile away from the Hampton Inn where we stayed.  The issue is that the store didn’t open until 11:00.  So after we both got dressed, we drove to Fairmont and had a decent breakfast at the Cracker Barrel there then returned to the hotel, checked out, and went to Target before making it to Jo Ann Fabric.

From there we had a long ride home.  We came a little different route back this time, staying on US 50 from Bridgeport through Taylor and Preston Counties and into Western Maryland before arriving back in West Virginia at Mount Storm.  From there it was just a few miles to the beautiful US 48 which took us to Baker, WV.  We then rode VA 259 to Broadway and I-81 home with a couple of stops in Harrisonburg on the way.

We had made arrangements to have Henry’s birthday dinner at our house.  It consisted of pizza from the Mount Sidney Flying Pizza shop.  I picked it up while he, Josh, Freddie, and Gus came to our house.  I had Henry’s Calculus treasure hunt waiting on him.  He was able to get it done fairly quickly which led him to his birthday card with the $100 bill in it from us.  He and Gus couldn’t stay long after dinner as they had a Young Life meeting.  Freddie entertained us by doing math problems then he read two stories from the Adventures of Frog and Toad.  It was so good to hear him read.  It hasn’t come easily for him but I think he’s catching on now.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

November 7         Infected                   Died

World             250,610,452           5,064,585   4,500 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,336,577              775,218   Less than 200 new deaths since yesterday     

Virginia                 933,542                14,125   NO UPDATES DUE TO WEEKEND           

Augusta County       10,262                     131   NO UPDATES DUE TO WEEKEND

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,761,968  (5,401,773 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.3% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        84,511 (39,678 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.5% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  This number has only changed by 0.3% in the past week.

November 8, 2021

As I frequently do on Mondays, I spent the entire morning at Central doing Treasurer’s work.  When I got there I didn’t think there would be much to do but the work kept a-coming.  At one point, I had a customer support person from Intuit help me set up a new item on our payroll.  The way their support works is that they can see your screen but not control it.  He noticed that I had a few payroll items that had been unresolved for the past several years and offered to help me remove them.  I gladly took his help and soon the QuickBooks screen had no warnings on it—warnings I’d been ignoring for the past year as had the previous treasurers.  It was a good call.

Then I went to the post office and found out that no one had been there in several days so there were several bills that had to be paid.  I had time to get it all done and was able to do so before I left around 12:30.

I didn’t do much this afternoon until after school.  Then Henry and Gus came over so I could do Henry’s calculus assignment with him.  Freddie’s bus also came so I had all three boys.  Meanwhile, Lynn took Betsy to dance.  As always, Henry did his problems well with little or no help from me.  We actually got two assignments finished.  He wanted to get them done today because his varsity basketball tryouts began at 5:00 today.  He went straight there from our house.  At 5:20 I took Gus to his JV tryouts which were being held at the middle school.  I can’t imagine that either of the two would be in jeopardy of being cut from their teams.  Henry was a starter on the varsity last year for the last half of the season and Gus, likewise, started on the JV team.  Both played on the summer FDHS team.  But I can remember twenty years ago the shock and anger I felt when I learned that Jim had been cut from the JV team at Fort.   I hope none of my grandchildren have to go through what he did.

Lynn and I ate dinner here at home then took it easy the rest of the evening.  We’re both getting used to standard time now.  We were both awake at 5:30 this morning though I did go back to sleep for a while.

I’m scheduled to play tennis tomorrow for the first time in a month.  I still find myself easily out of breath so I don’t know how well this will go…

Clymore Elementary School is sponsoring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic this coming Friday and Freddie is getting his first vaccine then!  Hurray!  Thomas and Georgia have their shots scheduled the day before in Arlington.  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 8         Infected                   Died

World             251,002,896           5,070,397   6,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,417,731              775,969   Less than 750 new deaths since yesterday     

Virginia                 936,928                14,190   3500 new cases 65 new deaths since Friday  

Augusta County       10,309                     131   47 new cases since last Friday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,798,922  (5,407,714 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.4% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        84,662 (39,704 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.5% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

November 9, 2021

Today was Henry’s 17th birthday.  Lynn and I are so old that we have a 17 year old Grandson!  He’s a fine kid, too.  I’m extremely proud of Henry.

Today I played tennis for the first time in a month.  Our foursome was the usual one consisting of Won Un, Pat Peason, Marc Kinder, and myself.  We only played for an hour because two of the guys had commitments which limited the time they could play.  An hour was plenty for me.  Actually, I wondered before we started if I’d be able to play even that long.  As it was, I didn’t move a whole lot.  None of us played that well.  Pat and Won beat Marc and me 6 -2 then Pat and I beat Won and Marc by the same score.  The weather was awesome today for mid-November and it felt really good to be outside.  We’re going to try to play around noon each Tuesday and Thursday though I can’t make it this Thursday because Lynn and I are going to meet Kay and kids in Culpeper.

Kay wondered if there was any place to play tennis in Culpeper.  I spent a good while on the web today looking for parks with tennis courts in them.  I did find one park which said it had two courts so I called the Rec Department to see what condition they were in.  The lady I spoke with put me on hold for a long time then came back to tell me there were no courts at that park.  I told her their own website said they did.  She looked and said that was a mistake.  I’m not sure now if we’ll be playing tennis when we meet on Thursday but at least there are several good walking trails.

I spent more time at Central today.  Won had asked me to write two more checks which I did before we played tennis.  Then after tennis I went back and loaded up one box of food for Juan Pablo and one for Elizabeth and her family.

Lynn her had Cheryl friends over for their weekly chat on the Pergola this afternoon.  After that she took Juan Pablo’s food to him.  She had planned to work with him on school work but, once again, he bailed out saying that he hadn’t gone to school today.

I was Betsy’s taxi driver to her dance class this afternoon.  As soon as I dropped her, I hustled back to Clymore Elementary School where I picked up Freddie after his TLC session at 4:45.  I took him to his house.  Gus was there because his basketball tryouts today began at 5:30.  Shortly thereafter Ann came home and took over the taxi business.

Lynn and I had offered to take Elizabeth and her family out to dinner to celebrate Nathan’s birthday.  Tonight worked for them so we met them at El Sol in Harrisonburg.  We had a good Taco Tuesday meal there.  Then Lynn and I went to Target then Aldi’s then Kroger.  Meanwhile, I had picked up the WVU – Oakland basketball game on the web so I listened to it.  WVU was behind at the start but eventually took over and built their lead up to 17 points before holding Oakland off at the end for a 60 – 53 win to open the 2021 – 22 season.

Lynn had a disturbing phone call from her sister Jane today that her daughter Lee was in the hospital having detox issues.  Lynn talked to Lee’s dad Danny tonght and is going to try to see her tomorrow.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 9         Infected                   Died

World             251,547,728           5,079,647   9,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,536,536              778,316   2,500 new deaths since yesterday      

Virginia                 938,376                14,225   1700 new cases, 35 new deaths   

Augusta County       10,325                     134   16 new cases, 3 new deaths

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,820,685  (5,412,779 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.4% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        84,707 (39,712 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

Tonight Gilberto reminded us that it was a year ago when he went into UVA with COVID-19.  He was there for three and a half months and nearly died.  He said how sad it was that people in the US won’t take the vaccines whereas people in his home country of Mexico would love to be vaccinated.  He should know; he lost both of his parents to COVID-19.

November 10, 2021

Lynn’s Venza had its windshield broken last week, perhaps by a rock while driving on the Interstate.  We had made an appointment at the Safelite Company near Harrisonburg to have it replaced this morning.  Our insurance with Nationwide covered the entire expense.  Our appointment was at 8:00 AM so we had to take both cars there so we could leave the Venza.  Lynn was supposed to have tested two students at Rockingham Academy at 9:00.  So we dropped her car off, went to Sharp Shopper to kill some time, then went to Rockingham Academy (the alternative school which is now housed in a new building between Pleasant Valley Elementary School and Massanutten Technical Center).  I waited in the car while she went in to test the students.  After a while, she came out to say that the testing materials she needed weren’t there but neither were the students.  The materials were being brought from the RCPS School Board Office but, in the meantime, she learned that her car was ready.  So I took her back to the Safelite place to pick up her car. 

Apparently the students in Rockingham County are no different from Juan Pablo—neither kid showed up to be tested.  She ended up coming on home until 11:00 when she went to Turner Ashby High School to test a few more students.  From there, she went to South River Elementary School to interpret for a meeting.  Her day was quite busy, but it didn’t stop at South River.  She had told Lee Hanger’s Dad last night that she would like to visit Lee in the hospital and he suggested she come this afternoon between 4:00 and 6:00.  So after her work at South River she did go to Sentara Hospital to try to see Lee.

In the meantime, I kept busy myself.  First I loaded up my truck with our trash, my empty gas can, and the Gutshall’s trash and went to the dump.  The Gutshalls really had a lot today.  After I unloaded it all I got gas for my mower and came back home around noon.

For the first time in weeks, I actually felt some ambition to do some outside work today.  The weather was spectacular again for mid-November so I decided to get rid of our flower garden where our vegetable garden used to be, especially since last week’s heavy frost had killed all of the flowers.  I tried to get my weed whacker to start so I could first cut the flowers and weeds down with it but it wouldn’t start.  I need to take it to the shop.  So I ended up cutting the larger weeds by hand then raked them into a pile.  I got my mower out, cut what was left in the garden, then loaded the pile onto my car and took it to the edge of our property.  Then I got out the tiller and tilled the garden spot for the winter.  It felt good to be outside and even better to have the energy and ambition to work.

I finished in plenty of time before the bus came.  Freddie and Betsy were both on it.  They were here until after 5:00.  Betsy practiced her part in the show, The Christmas Story, while Freddie played a Hobbit game on the Wii-U.

Lynn came home around 6:00 with a report that Lee was improving and might be released in the next few days.  Her Dad is hoping she would go to a detox location for a few weeks first.

Lynn was exhausted after such a busy day so we both got ready for bed early and called it a day.  Tomorrow we’re going to drive to Culpeper to meet Kay and her family for a Veterans Day family get-together.

Thomas and Georgia will get their vaccinations tomorrow.  Freddie gets his at his school on Friday.  That will make 14 of the 16 immediate members of our family who have gotten at least one shot.  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 10       Infected                   Died

World             252,092,605           5,087,462   8,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,641,613              779,942   1,600 new deaths since yesterday      

Virginia                 939,783                14,261   1400 new cases, 39 new deaths   

Augusta County       10,346                     133   21 new cases

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,900,269  (5,418,854 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 84.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.5% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        85,011 (39,738 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

November 11, 2021

Today was our day to meet Kay, Thomas, and Georgia in Culpeper since it was Veterans Day and Arlington County Schools was not in session.  Lynn and I left home around 9:00 and made three stops on our way:  two Dollar General stores and a Target in Culpeper.  We got to the park we had previously agreed to meet at, Yowell Meadow Park, around 11:20.  Kay and kids got there close to noon.  They had stopped at a Sheets to grab some items for lunch.

The weather was nice this afternoon with temperatures in the 60’s so it was a good day to meet in a park.  First we ate lunch.  This park had a nice 1.25 mile level, paved walkway which we walked on afterwards.  Thomas brought a skateboard and Georgia a scooter. 

We took our time hiking around the park then headed for Moo Thru, an ice cream creamery Lynn and I had discovered when we did our Creamery Tour this spring.  Moo Thru has really good ice cream—almost as good as Smiley’s—and we enjoyed ours this afternoon.  As usual, Lynn had a peanut butter chocolate milkshake.  I had a sundae made with caramel and sweet cream ice cream. 

Then we played some “can jam” in the yard at Moo Thru.  I was able to get some good pictures here and earlier as we walked.  By mid-afternoon we had all headed back home.  Indeed, on our way home we got a text from Kay with pictures of Thomas and Georgia getting their COVID-19 vaccine this afternoon.  Hip, hip, hurray!

We had other big news today:  Kay and her family will be going to Ohio for Thanksgiving along with Ann and family, Jim, Lynn, and me.  I had previously made room reservations for the rest of us so today I added a room for the Foys. 

Lynn didn’t sleep well last night so she and I headed for bed early this evening.  Tomorrow I have a busy day working at Central with the United Methodist Men making Brunswick Stew.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 11       Infected                   Died

World             252,609,689           5,094,709   7,300 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,689,002              780,773   800 new deaths since yesterday         

Virginia                 941,371                14,294   1500 new cases, 33 new deaths   

Augusta County       10,365                     133   19 new cases

            Vaccinated

Virginia        11,952,231  (5,424,703 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas and Georgia now have their first shot.  That’s 84.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.6% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        85,215 (39,772 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Freddie gets his first shot tomorrow.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

November 12, 2021

I spent over six hours at Central UMC today.  For most of the time, I was assisting others in the United Methodist Mens group fixing Brunswick stew for their annual fundraiser.  What’s ironic is that neither Lynn nor I like Brunswick stew.  We made 115 quarts of it today but the Hills bought none of it.

We had a good turnout to prepare the stew, twelve men.  That number demonstrates that the group is mainly made up of retired people since those who work couldn’t have come at 8:00 on a Friday morning.   We had plenty of help preparing the stew but by the time early afternoon came and it was time to put it in containers the help had waned.  That’s why I was there so long.  Actually, most of my job the entire day was to run the dishwasher, something I’ve had plenty of experience at over the years.  I probably ran 50 loads today.

I’m happy to have helped the group who will use the money for lots of good projects.  Out of the 115 quarts, 65 are already pre-sold, but that means 50 more need to be sold.  I’m especially happy that I felt like helping today.  What helped is that both Lynn and I slept well last night for the first time in ages.

Another thing I did today was to put together a food box for Connie’s daughter Missy and her family.  I dropped it off at Connie’s house on my way home from Central UMC.

After coming home mid-afternoon, I cut the leaves in our yard again.  This time of year I need to cut them every other day just to stay ahead of the falling leaves.  The weather was beautiful again today though this is probably the last good day we’ll have.

For dinner, we got hamburgers from the Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  We also got burgers and fries for Lynn’s old friend Bonnie Ball and her husband Ron.  We dropped them off on the way back home.

COVID-19 is back on the rise in the US.  Some states are now pushing for boosters for everyone, even before the FDA and CDC approve it for 18 – 65 year olds.  The reason for the surge in cases is blamed on the weather which has forced people inside now.  Plus, with the exception of 5 – 11 year olds which are getting vaccinated a-plenty now, there still are way too many adults not vaccinated.  Our family celebrated today with Freddie who got his vaccination at school.  No one from his family was present; he bravely got it along with many of his classmates.  Super Freddie!  Yesterday, Thomas and Georgia got their first shot.  So now, 14 of the 16 immediate members of our family have at least one shot.  Just Faron and Coen remain.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 12       Infected                   Died

World             253,167,481           5,102,719   8,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,821,896              782,544   1,800 new deaths since yesterday      

Virginia                 942,837                14,321   1500 new cases, 27 new deaths   

Augusta County       10,392                     133   27 new cases

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,000,014  (5,429,271 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 85.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.6% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        85,460 (39,788 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

November 13, 2021

Our beautiful weather left us today.  Lynn and I went to Freddie’s last soccer game of the year.  I wore long underwear under my jeans and several layers including my new coat Lynn got me for my birthday.  I wore my mask, not because I needed COVID-19 protection but because I hate so much to be cold.  All of those clothes worked.  Meanwhile, both Freddie and Gus were there in shorts.  Freddie played well but his teammates didn’t do much, especially the goalie, and he lost his final game.  Nonetheless, he had a good season and proved to be a fine player.  Today he was the only one on his team to score a goal.

After soccer, we went by the Holtzman Oil open house in Verona.  They recently opened a store there to compete with Dixie Gas, now owned by Quarles.  One of the guys who sometimes subs in our tennis is Randy Simmons who works for Holtzman.  We had a chance to talk to him for a while about switching our propane tank to Holtzman when it runs out.  We only use propane for the stove burners and the fireplace insert.  I also talked with him about converting our fuel oil from an underground tank to an above ground tank which we may also do when the tank is empty.  Right now it is full.

We got back home just after noon.  The WVU – Kansas State football game had started at noon.  I had it recorded so I immediately began watching it.  It was one of the most disappointing games I have ever watched.  WVU could do nothing right:  two interceptions, one fumble, dropped passes, bad play calls, bad throws, missed tackles, blocked punt… you name it, they did it wrong.  They lost 34 – 17.  Now they’re 4 – 6 and the only way they can possibly be in a bowl game is to beat both Kansas and Texas. 

After that I began working on a slide show for Thanksgiving.  Butch asked me to put one together.  I’ve been going through my albums which have pictures of the Hill and DeLeo families and selecting pictures for the slideshow.  So far I’ve worked backwards from 2021 to 2017 and have over 600 pictures chosen for the slideshow.

After a nice dinner tonight for which Lynn made a broccoli and cheese soup, she and I watched three more episodes of Ted Lasso.  Lynn is such a fine cook.  She is just a gem in every way.  I am so lucky to be her partner.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics.  Remember that VA doesn’t update its cases on the weekends:

November 13       Infected                   Died

World             253,655,829           5,110,219   7,500 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,891,997              783,439   900 new deaths since yesterday         

Virginia                 942,837                14,321   NO UPDATES ON WEEKENDS   

Augusta County       10,392                     133   NO UPDATES ON WEEKENDS

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,035,746  (5,433,202 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 85.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.7% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        85,4763 (39,813 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

November 14, 2021

Today was a typical Sunday for us including the usuals of Sunday School for me, worship services at Central for Lynn and me, and dinner tonight for the Gutshalls.  It was good to get back to our routine.

The weather has taken a turn for cold, as is to be expected in mid-November, so we spent little time outside today.  Any spare time I had I spent working on the slideshow for the Hill family Thanksgiving which will be in Ohio.  Tonight I think I got it finished.  It features sample pictures from engagements that involve at least two of the three in my family:  Butch, Mary K., and me.  This means there are pictures from Thanksgiving get-togethers (going back to 1999) plus vacations in Lancaster PA, Bramwell reunions, etc.  I threw in some old pictures that were made from slides of family members.

After we got home from Church today, I peeled apples for our dinner.  Meanwhile, Lynn had made broccoli and cheese soup yesterday and today she made her signature macaroni casserole.  Plus she made homemade rolls.  This was a fine dinner!  After our dinner, she and Ann went shopping in Waynesboro while the rest of us stayed here.

This afternoon we went to a drama/musical performance hosted by Fort Defiance High School that was put on by the Shenandoah Governor’s School for the Performing Arts.  A total of eleven high school students from the area high schools performed pieces from a variety of musicals including Newsies, Mama Mia, Fiddler on the Roof, and many others. 

Betsy came over afterwards for some help with her math.  She had problems with consumer-type problems involving discounts, tax, tips, markups, etc.  The real issue is that she’s not old enough to be spending money herself so she hasn’t had to learn how all this works yet.  

Henry and Gus have officially made the varsity and junior varsity basketball teams at Fort Defiance for this year.  That’s no surprise but given our experience with Jim when he was around that age we’ve learned to never take anything for granted.  Tonight Lynn and I put the basketball games on our calendar.  I assume we’ll go to all of them.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 14       Infected                   Died

World             254,026,295           5,115,131   5,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     47,916,190              783,565   Only 126 new deaths reported           

Virginia                 942,837                14,321   NO UPDATES ON WEEKENDS   

Augusta County       10,392                     133   NO UPDATES ON WEEKENDS

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,097,600  (5,439,586 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 85.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.7% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        86,111 (39,852 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, well below the Virginia average.

November 15, 2021

I did a lot of work for Central today and it took a long while.  I was there before 8:00 and didn’t leave until after 2:00.  During that time frame, I did the following:  completed 95% of the bulletin for the November 18 worship services and e-mailed the draft to Rev. Jim Harris who will be preaching then; exchanged e-mail with a person scheduled to read the liturgy on November 18 making sure he would be present; wrote reimbursement checks to two Central members who had spent their own money on CUMC projects; entered the deposit for yesterday and divided the funds into the subaccounts where they were intended; added a new member to the envelope database and updated the guide sheet which matches names to envelope numbers; wrote, printed, addressed and mailed a letter of thanks to a group which gave a memorial gift in memory of a deceased member; wrote, printed, addressed, and mailed a letter of thanks to a local organization which contributed to the food pantry; ordered materials from Staples for both the office and Food Pantry; helped unload four pallets of food from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to Central’s Food Pantry; entered credit card purchase information for Pastor Won’s credit card and reconciled that card with QuickBooks, paying its monthly bill; paid a utility bill; canceled via telephone a service we no longer wish to subscribe to; entered the individual offerings from yesterday into the Servant Keeper database; set up the payroll for November 30; paid the dental/health insurance for the Pastor for November; paid the retirement benefits for the Pastor for November; mailed all of the above bills and filed the check stubs; got the mail from Central’s mailbox at the Post Office; put away dish towels for the CUMC kitchen Lynn had washed; and filled a box of food from the Food Lion food donations for Lynn’s student Juan Pablo.  Later this afternoon Lynn and I took the food to him.

The above events took up my entire day.  Boring day!  On the way to Juan Pablo’s house in Waynesboro we stopped at Cook Out and got three of the $0.99 milkshakes, one for him and one for each of us.  The flavor this week is chocolate.  As a result of the milkshakes we weren’t very hungry for supper.  We ate a few leftovers from last night.

Lynn continued her post-retirement work for Rockingham County Schools, testing students at two different schools today.  Tomorrow she will interpret for a disciplinary meeting at another one of the schools.  We both worked hard today.  However, she earned money whereas my work was pro bono.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 15       Infected                   Died

World             254,510,376           5,121,129   6,000 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,048,106              784,504   1,000 new deaths reported     

Virginia                 946,061                14,392   3,200 cases, 71 new deaths since Friday   

Augusta County       10,422                     132   30 new cases since Friday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,126,187  (5,442,744 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 85.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 63.8% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        86,242 (39,856 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, well below the Virginia average.

November 16, 2021

Today I was back on the tennis court.  It wasn’t a warm day—temperatures were in the 40’s when we played.  Our usual foursome played:  Marc, Won, Pat, and me.  I didn’t play well and lost two of the three full sets we played (I only won when I played with Pat.  He won every set he played except that we started a fourth set and Won and I were up 4 – 2 when we had to quit).  I hit some decent shots but just couldn’t move.  I got winded easily and found that after a long point I suffered for the next two points as I struggled to catch my breath back.  But it was lots of fun and I have no regrets about playing. 

Before I played tennis, I went to Lowe’s and bought some drill bits (Lynn has a little project for which she needs small drill bits and I only had one 1/16th inch bit left), an extension cord, and a replacement plus for my old extension cord.  My old cord would smoke and lose power at times so I definitely needed a replacement.  But I had the idea that if I cut off the old plug and replaced it with a new one perhaps that would work.

Much to my surprise, I was able to replace the defective plug and the resulting cord worked again!  I still don’t plan to use this cord much in the future; that’s why I bought the other extension cord. 

Another “fixit” job I got done this afternoon was getting our Alexa-controlled light in the bedroom to work again.  It used to work fine but a few months ago it quit working.  I was able to re-link the bulb to Alexa so now we can turn the light on by saying “Alexa, turn the light on.”

Just when you think COVID-19 isn’t affecting schools much anymore, it was announced tonight that Riverheads High School’s upcoming football playoff game was declared a forfeit because their opponent, William Campbell High, had COVID-19 infections.

The weather is supposed to be warm for the next two days so I hope to get some outside work done.  One big project I have is to work on our garage so there will be room for me to bring down the Christmas decorations.  That is a HUGE job!

This afternoon, I took Betsy to her dance classes.  Ann was running a little behind and I had nothing else to do.  Lynn did some interpreting at Lacey Spring Elementary School this afternoon.  She seems to have at least one school job every day nowdays. 

In the news tonight, the CDC is being asked to approve booster shots for all adults.  Some states are already giving boosters to anyone who wants them.

As I mentioned on November 14, I’ve been working on a slide show for Thanksgiving.  Butch asked me to put one together.  I’ve spent several hours over the past few days selecting pictures from previous Thanksgivings, Lancaster vacations, Bramwell reunions, etc.  Today I finished it on my downstairs Mac and transferred the pictures to my laptop in preparation for our Thanksgiving trip.  One issue I’ve run into is that Butch says there is no large screen TV at the Ohio U Inn though there is a large screen.  So today I’ve been looking for a projector with a HDMI input.  Ann thinks she has found one at Broadway High School and I discovered that one of Central UMC’s projectors has that input.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 16       Infected                   Died

World             255,036,589           5,128,938   7,800 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,147,029              786,017   1,500 new deaths reported     

Virginia                 947,271                14,422   1,200 cases, 30 new deaths since yesterday   

Augusta County       10,433                     133   11 new cases, 1 death since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,164,588  (5,459,056 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 85.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.0% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        86,832 (40,207 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.2% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, well below the Virginia average.

November 17, 2021

Today was unseasonably warm so it was important that I got some outside work done.  Lynn and I ran errands all morning in Harrisonburg so I didn’t get started outside until after lunch.  I spent time before we left for Harrisonburg cleaning out the garage to make room for all the Christmas decorations that are stored above our garage.  Moving them down to the garage is an annual job I don’t look forward to.  But first I had to clean out room for them which I did this morning. 

After that, Lynn and I did some important tasks.  First we went to the Wells Fargo bank in downtown Harrisonburg.  We had received notice that this branch was closing in early January.  We’ve had a safety deposit box there since the early 1980’s and we were forced to close it out.  We got to the bank at 9:00 and had to wait a while before they could assist us in closing out the account and emptying the safety deposit box. 

Then we drove straight to the Bridgewater Wells Fargo branch and opened up a safety deposit box there.  The box in Bridgewater was a little smaller than the one we had in Harrisonburg so we had to clean out our documents a little.  One thing I keep in the safety deposit box is a hard drive with all of my documents and pictures on it.  I removed it from the Harrisonburg bank but instead of putting it in the Bridgewater box I brought it home so I could update it with the most recent pictures and documents.  I did that this afternoon and will take it back to Bridgewater soon along with our newly arrived passports.

We then drove back to Harrisonburg and went to Waterworks to buy four bags of salt for our water softener than on to Staples so Lynn could get some items.  Lastly, we went to Costco to buy several things for the Central Food Pantry plus some items Lynn wanted.  As I mentioned, it was noon by the time we got back home.

One of the chores I had to do today was to clean out the shed so that the lawnmower would fit in it.  Before I put the mower in the shed, I cut the leaves in the front and back yards.  It didn’t take me as long as I thought to get the shed ready for the mower.

With the weather being so good, I wanted to do more outside work.  So I went up into the attic and brought down three of the Christmas boxes including one with the exterior lights in it.  I then spent a frustrated hour trying to find strands of light which actually worked and get them on the outside bushes we always light up at Christmas time.  So many of the light strands didn’t work that I only got the job halfway done because I ran out of working lights.

I had to finish by 3:15 because Freddie and Betsy rode the bus here.  After Ann picked them up, Lynn and I went to Harrisonburg to eat at Jalapeno’s.  Lynn had run to Waynesboro to tutor Juan Pablo.

Jalapeno’s has a special on Wednesday nights where their Arroz Con Pollo (chicken with rice) is only $7.99.  It is delicious; we both got it tonight.  Plus, we had a coupon for buy one, get one.  So we both ate for just over $8.00 tonight!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 17       Infected                   Died

World             255,688,709           5,137,771   8,800 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,281,774              787,878   1,800 new deaths reported     

Virginia                 949,803                14,443   1,600 cases, 21 new deaths since yesterday   

Augusta County       10,458                     133   25 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,205,977  (5,464,077 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 86.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.0% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        87,000 (40,264 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, well below the Virginia average.

November 18, 2021

I haven’t been this busy in ages!  I started out by being at Central around 7:30 AM this morning.  I had the Costco order to drop off.  Then I paid three bills.  Then I completed another draft of the church bulletin and e-mailed it to everyone who needed to see it.  I finished up by 8:30, just in time to make it to tennis which started at 9:00.

I played two hours of tennis today.  I didn’t get as winded as I did on Tuesday.  I didn’t play much better but none of us did because it was a very windy day.  The sets were closer.  Marc and I lost 6 – 4 to Pat and Won.  Then Pat and I beat Marc and Won 8 – 6.  Finally, Pat and Marc beat Won and me 6 – 1.  For November 18, it was very warm outside.  This may be the last good outside tennis weather we’ll get in 2021 and it felt good to be enjoying it.

After tennis, I came home and put Christmas lights on the remaining bushes of ours outside.  It is highly unusual to be finished with this project by November 18 but I just had to take advantage of the good weather we had.

Lynn came home from a UMW meeting at Central around noon and after we ate, she cut my hair.  She does a good job being my barber!

As soon as that was over, I started bringing Christmas boxes from above the garage down to the garage.  I had about a dozen ready to be brought down, ones that I knew Lynn would want.  But I had a good idea before bringing the rest down.  I went up the ladder and called her on Facetime.  Then I went through the 40 – 50 remaining boxes and asked her which ones she thought she would use this year.  She narrowed it down to about twenty so I then brought the twenty down the ladder.  I took my time and was able to get them all down.  Whew!

I finished around 2:30 and thought I had plenty of time before I needed to be at Betsy’s house to pick her up for dance.  So I gathered up the new passports we just got and the external hard drive I had updated and headed for the Wells Fargo in Bridgewater to put them in our new safety deposit box.  That went smoothly.

My next chore was to pick up a chicken from Costco for our dinner.  I headed north on I-81 from Bridgewater.  No sooner than I passed the Pleasant Valley exit traffic slowed to 15 mph.  By this time I was worried about getting back to pick up Betsy in time.  Further complicating the issue is that she texted me that her after school bus had been combined with another and she was afraid it would get her home too late so she rode Freddie’s bus to our house.  No one was there because Lynn was at South River Elementary interpreting for a meeting.  But she knows how to let herself in and I told her I’d be there as soon as I could.

I hate I-81 traffic!  Today’s backlog made it really tough for me.  I practically ran through Costco with the chicken and drove well over the speed limits, as best I could, to get home.  It seems like when you’re in a hurry there are a plethora of people who are slowpokes just waiting to pull out in front of you.  Today was no exception.  By the time I got home it was 4:00.  I hustled Betsy to her house.  She changed quickly and we left her house at 4:15.  Her dance started at 4:30 in Staunton.  We got there at 4:32.  Not bad but not good, either.

In the meantime, Ann had gotten delayed coming home so Lynn picked Freddie up at his school.  She brought him to our house where she had fixed macaroni and cheese to go along with the Costco chicken.  He ate with us but we had to hurry again because his basketball started at 6:00 at Clymore Elementary.  He made it in plenty of time.

I stayed with him the entire time; Ann to take Betsy from Staunton to her play practice in Waynesboro.  He did well at this first basketball session.  He can shoot and dribble as well as any of the 30 kids there.

In the meantime, Gus and Henry had their first scrimmage of the season at Luray.  Josh kept us updated as best he could.  He reported that Gus had a fine JV game.  He scored 12 points with five field goals and 2 – 4 from the free throw line.  Josh said he really played well.

In the varsity game, despite having their coach expelled for objecting to a referee’s call, Fort did well against Luray.  Henry scored six first half points and added six more in the third quarter.  In the fourth he hit a nice three pointer then made a layup and followed up a missed free throw with a stick-back.  He added a free throw and ended up with 20 points.  FDHS won the scrimmage 60 – 41.  Henry had 1/3 of the FDHS points!  Wish I could have seen those boys play tonight!

Freddie was here all that time since neither of his parents were home.  He watched a Netflix movie, Hop, and read a story in a book for Lynn.  His reading has improved.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 18       Infected                   Died

World             256,307,769           5,146,198   8,800 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,398,455              789,155   1,300 new deaths reported     

Virginia                 951,698                14,469   1,800 cases, 26 new deaths since yesterday   

Augusta County       10,484                     133   26 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,275,888  (5,479,547 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 86.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.2% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        87,138 (40,288 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, well below the Virginia average. 

November 19, 2021

Today featured a fruitful morning and a lazy afternoon.  I went to Central again this morning, this time to finish Sunday’s bulletin.  I had received a couple of announcements to add to the bulletin so all I had to do in order to finish it was to add these announcements, add a piece of clip art, and print it.  I printed 60 copies, folded them, and took them to the sanctuary.  I also created a .pdf version of the bulletin and posted it to the CUMC website.

I thought of my Dad when I did this today.  For as long as I can remember, Dad did the bulletins for the Bramwell Presbyterian Church.  In those days, you had to type the bulletin on a special stencil paper on a manual typewriter.  If you made a typo, it was hard to fix.  He did this week after week.  We had a ditto machine that he’d use to run off the copies then we’d fold them so they’d be ready for Sunday.  When I created and printed the bulletin for this coming Sunday, I thought of how much easier I had it than Dad ever did.  I could edit my text, change the fonts, sizes, add clip art, rearrange text boxes, etc. anyway I wanted to with MS Publisher.  He only had an Underwood typewriter.  He was so skilled!  If, for some reason, he couldn’t do the bulletins, Mom stepped up and did them.  Maybe once or twice when I was in high school I did them.

While I was at Central I also printed a few checks and did several backups of QuickBooks including one copy I brought home with me on a USB stick.  You can’t have too many backups of anything important.

I met Lynn at Kroger afterwards.  We got some gift cards and a turkey which she’s going to cook so we can have leftovers after Thanksgiving though we’ll be eating Thanksgiving dinner in Athens OH.

I got home in plenty of time to get ready for my appointment with Dr. LaGrua at noon.  He didn’t have much new for me—he just had the nurse take more blood for me to be tested to see if any of the many out-of-sync levels in my previous blood tests in October had improved.  He admitted that he didn’t know what had caused them to be out of whack and agreed with me that my enlarged prostate may be to blame.

He also advised me to go through with the Mohs surgery on the basal cell carcinoma on my nose which is scheduled for November 29.  I’m not looking forward to that.

Once I got home, I didn’t have any pressing work to do and it had turned bitterly cold outside so I just took it easy.  I did have a chance to chat with Josh for a few minutes about last night’s FDHS boys basketball scrimmage.  He was still singing the praises of Henry and Gus who had both played well.  Super!

I watched WVU basketball beat Elon last night in the first round of a tournament held in Charleston SC.  Tonight they played Marquette in the semifinals.  So my evening was spent watching basketball.  Tomorrow I’m gong to watch WVU’s football team play Texas.  I love Mountaineer sports…but tonight they let me down.  Lynn and I got back late from Waynesboro and the game had already started.  The Mountaineers were up by 12 at the half.  At one point they led by 14.  Then, in what seemed like no time, Marquette got hot, WVU went cold, and soon Marquette led by 8.  The final score was Marquette 82 – 71.  To go from a huge lead to a huge loss is embarrassing.  But I’ve watched WVU all my life and am almost used to this kind of game.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

November 19       Infected                   Died

World             256,916,878           5,154,868   8,600 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,518,424              791,068   1,800 new deaths reported     

Virginia                 953,460                14,492   1,750 cases, 23 new deaths since yesterday   

Augusta County       10,511                     133   27 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,324,275  (5,485,628 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 86.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.3% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        87,634 (40,325 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.4% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, well below the Virginia average, as I’ve been saying for days now.  We live in a redneck location!

The CDC today recommended that all adults should be eligible for a booster six months after their initial vaccination.

November 20, 2021

Today was a cold Saturday.  I was happy that I got my outside work done earlier in the week when the temperature was warm.  I was outside for a while this morning as I made my weekly trip to the dump including picking up the Gutshall’s trash.  The old truck has a good heater, fortunately.

I got the results of my blood tests from yesterday’s visit with Dr. LaGrua.  I had hoped that the values which had been out of the normal range in the blood tests I had back in October would be OK this time.  This didn’t happen.  I continue to have low values related to my red blood cells and hemoglobin.  This means I am anemic.  Other values which aren’t in the normal range are related to kidney function.  With the size of my prostate I’m not surprised by this.  But Dr. LaGrua couldn’t definitively tell me what is going on with my body so I’m left in the dark.  I don’t hurt or have any glaring symptoms which are cause for alarm so I’m just puzzled.

After my trash run today I had the pleasure of watching the entire WVU – Texas football game.  After the disappointment from last night’s WVU basketball game, I didn’t have high expectations for the Mountaineers.  But they played well and won 31 – 23.  It was a very good win for WVU and means that if they can beat Kansas next week they will be eligible for a bowl game.

During the game I worked on an idea I got earlier this morning for a family activity for Thanksgiving.  When I taught at Bridgewater, I used an online app called Kahoot! sometimes to review material with my students.  It occurred to me that this would work well with the group in Athens since all will have cell phones they can do the activity on.  So I spent a good while today developing nine different Kahoot! activities.  With Kahoot!, participants answer on their phones or iPads multiple choice or true false questions which are displayed on the screen. Each person is given a score based on the number they get correct and the speed at which the answer correctly.  So all are competing against everyone else.  I hope it will be fun.  The questions I made up are all family questions so they may teach the younger ones some interesting facts about their relatives.

Lynn and I usually get hamburgers from Old School food truck on Fridays but last night we just ate leftovers.  So tonight we went to Valley Pike and got our usual hamburgers.  They were delicious, as always.

In my spare time today I’ve worked on the Congregational Prayer I’m scheduled to give at tomorrow morning’s worship services.  I’ve also done some minor things around the house including sending my brother two e-cards for his 74th birthday which is tomorrow.

Here are today’s Coronavirus statistics:

November 20       Infected                   Died

World             257,405,337           5,163,024   8,200 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,558,417              793,539   1,500 new deaths reported     

Virginia                 953,460                14,492   NO UPDATES DUE TO WEEKEND   

Augusta County       10,511                     133   NO UPDATES DUE TO WEEKEND

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,367,027  (5,490,454 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 86.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.3% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        87,814 (40,343 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.4% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, still well below the Virginia average.

November 21, 2021

Today is brother Butch’s 74th birthday.  He seems healthy and happier now that he has a partner, Jackie, to share his time with.  I called him this afternoon and he seemed to be doing OK.  He is certainly looking forward to Thanksgiving in Athens as are we.

We’ve all signed up for a 5K Run/Walk Turkey Trot.  This one is in Logan, OH, about 30 minutes from where we’ll be staying in Athens.  I think there will be around 16 of us participating:  Jim, Lynn & I, four Gutshalls, four Danglers, Butch, and four Foys.  Our plan is to leave for Athens on Wednesday after Henry’s basketball practice which will end around 10:00 AM.  It is a five hour drive.

Today was Sunday which meant I had duties at Central.  I had prepared the bulletin for the morning worship service and I was listed as the one with the Congregational Prayer.  Yesterday I wrote the prayer.  Our guest pastor, Rev. Jim Harris, did a good job.  There were fifty people there, the most we’ve had in a while.

This afternoon I helped Lynn prepare dinner for the Gutshalls.  I baked potatoes which she turned into potato soup.  She made homemade rolls and I cooked a small ham to eat with the rolls.  And I fixed green beans.  It was a good meal.  Ann and Betsy didn’t get here until 7:30 because she had play practice all afternoon.

I’ve had my fill of WVU sports this weekend.  Today they played in the consolation round of the Charleston SC tournament against Clemson.  They led at first, then fell behind by nine midway through the second half, then used intense defensive pressure to get back in the game and were able to pull away and win 66 – 59.  It was Coach Huggins’ 904th victory as a head coach which puts him 4th among NCAA coaches.

I enjoyed the Gutshalls company again tonight.  All of them are fun to be around.  I feel so blessed to live close to them.  Tomorrow Freddie will ride the bus here and I will likely take Betsy to her afternoon dance class.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

November 21       Infected                   Died

World             257,820,862           5,167,758   4,700 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,592,810              793,651   120 new deaths.  Weekend underreporting?  

Virginia                 953,460                14,492   NO UPDATES DUE TO WEEKEND   

Augusta County       10,511                     133   NO UPDATES DUE TO WEEKEND

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,422,190  (5,496,388 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 87.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.4% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        88,169 (40,404 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.5% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, still well below the Virginia average. 

November 22, 2021

It seems that I spend over five hours every Monday at Central.  Today was no exception.  I was there at 8:00 AM and didn’t leave to come home until after 1:30 PM.  I didn’t have that much QuickBooks work to do but other things filled up my day.  One was the church’s website.  I had gotten a notice from GoDaddy that our annual renewal fee would automatically bill my credit card tomorrow, November 23.  For the past dozen years or so I have paid 100% of Central’s website bills.  This year I decided to let CUMC pay for its own GoDaddy hosting so I called them this morning to get the credit card changed from mine to the one that Savannah had used as  Administrative Assistant.  When I called, I was told that they had “rebranded” the security services that was scheduled to renew and we could re-subscribe at 33% off the cost.  I couldn’t pass up that deal so I agreed to do it.  From then until late in the evening, the website had issues.  I had to call them several times thereafter because the site just wouldn’t come up correctly.   Finally I think they got it fixed.

I also helped unload over a ton of groceries from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank for our Food Pantry.  And I put together two large boxes of Food Lion food, one for Juan Pablo and another for Elizabeth Jiminez and her family.  Lynn delivered the one to Juan Pablo this evening.  She and I delivered the other to Elizabeth mid-afternoon.

I got a good start on doing the bulletin for next Sunday.  I may not get back to it until Saturday since we’ll be gone Wednesday through Friday.

While I was at Central, I got a phone call from Dr. Lagrua’s office.  The nurse said that he had looked over my blood test results and noted that my anemia has gotten worse.  So, she said, they’d be referring me to a gastrointestinal specialist.  I didn’t get a call from anyone today.  I guess this is a wait-and-see deal.

This afternoon, we had Freddie from the time he got off his bus until 5:20.  During that time period I drove Betsy to her dance classes in Staunton.  When I got back, Lynn took the food box to Juan Pablo.

She also took a poinsettia to Beverly Coltrane whose husband, Phil, has really struggled with cancer the past few months.  Phil is one who has been on my prayer list for quite a while.

Tonight Lynn and I took my car to Simmons for its oil change appointment tomorrow morning.  When we got back we put the Christmas candles in our windows which nearly completes our decorations which the outside can see.  The one big thing left is the tree.  Our plans are to get a tree this coming Saturday from a tree farm near Vesuvius.  Lynn always wants a Frazer Fir.

Another small thing I did today was to find a photo from this past April of Butch, Mary K., and me.  I resized it to 5 x 7 and printed it on our printer with photo paper.  This afternoon, while Lynn made her Waynesboro run, she found a frame for the picture so now I have a small gift to give to Butch for his birthday.

One final accomplishment today was to discuss with Betsy about the two of us doing a piano – vocal duet at Central for the Christmas eve service.  She had previously told me she’d do it but today my job was to find a song for us.  When I picked her up today we discussed it and, after listening to a few songs, she decided on Mary Do You Know? which is one of my favorites.  This evening I purchased the sheet music for it, downloaded, and printed it.  I told Betsy we wouldn’t start practicing it together until after her big musical, A Christmas Story, is over on December 19.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

November 22       Infected                   Died

World             258,362,763           5,174,120   6,500 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,734,774              794,760   1,100 new deaths 

Virginia                 957,570                14,548   4,000 new cases, 56 deaths since Friday   

Augusta County       10,559                     135   48 new cases, 2 new deaths since Friday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,452,709  (5,499,704 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 87.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.4% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        88,309 (40,411 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.5% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, still well below the Virginia average. 

November 23, 2021

What a busy day!  This reminded me of when I was working—I had multiple things going on at once which required my attention.  Fortunately, I’ve learned to multitask and manage time pretty well so I actually got nearly everything done today that I needed to do.

I was without a car most of the day as my car was getting its oil changed at Simmons.  So most of the things I did were here at 296 Leaport Road.  I discovered midday that I had neglected to put two Central UMC meetings today on my agenda:  Finance Committee at 2:00 and Council at 7:00.   The 7:00 meeting was particularly troublesome because I am the secretary of Council but Henry and Gus had a home basketball scrimmage tonight and I didn’t want to miss it.  Plus, with Pastor Won being out of town on vacation, I was asked to set up the Zoom meetings for both of these.  This wasn’t an issue for the 2:00 meeting since I was in charge of that meeting anyway.  The one who sets up the Zoom meeting has to start the meeting so others can join.  But the 7:00 meeting presented an issue because I knew at 7:00 I’d be in the Fort Defiance High School gym.  Nonetheless, I was able to start the meeting there without taking part in it.  When I got home later I found that the meeting was going on just fine.

This morning I did a few thing to help Lynn with a craft project she wants to take to Ohio.  I also spent a long time on a last minute idea I had about creating a photo book.  I won’t go into details but I was able to put together a book I plan on giving at Christmas time.  I spent several hours choosing the photos and editing the book.

Lambert Plumbing came at 1:00 to do the annual service on both the heat pump and boiler.  I talked with Greg Lambert about my plan to replace the heating oil tank currently underground with an above-ground one when the oil has been consumed from the tank.  It will likely take until spring for that to happen.  We didn’t turn the boiler on until today.

My 2:00 meeting went OK. I was able to get everything prepared for it that I needed to present despite the short time period.

Around 3:00 I called and found out that my car was ready to be picked up.  Lynn had gone to John C. Myers Elementary School for an interpreting session so I was somewhat stuck here.  I decided to take my truck up to Simmons, get the car and pay for the oil change, then come back here.  I’d get my truck later.  As I started to pull out of the driveway, I saw that the time was around 3:15.  Freddie’s bus gets here around 3:18 but today was Tuesday and he normally has his TLC class after school on Tuesdays so I wasn’t surprised that no one was here to pick him up.  But I decided to wait until his bus passed our driveway just in case he was on it today.  Sure enough, his bus put on its red lights in front of my truck and out he came.  He told me that his TLC was canceled for today.  I am so glad I didn’t leave to get my car until the bus came!  I told him to hop in and we both went up to the get car.  Then we stopped by the house where I grabbed an iPad for him to play with while I went into Staunton to Central UMC.  I had some wrapping paper Lynn wanted taken there and there were some checks I had left to be signed that needed to be mailed.  On my way back home, I stopped by the Edward Jones office in Verona where Justin Rexrode, our Edward Jones representative, had very kindly ordered a bunch of Thanksgiving pies for his clients.  I picked up an apple pie that we’ll take to Ohio with us tomorrow.

Freddie and I got back home just in time to grab some supper of leftovers before heading to the scrimmages.  We got to Fort Defiance High School just as the JV game started.  Gus played well but had an unfortunate incident.  While battling for a rebound, he picked up a foul (which I thought was a bad call).  He must have muttered something about the call because the official immediately gave him a technical foul.  That was totally uncalled for.  Now I should point out that the official who did this is not a stranger to us.  He was the JV coach at Fort Defiance when Jim was in the 9th grade.  He was the coach who cut Jim from the squad.  I know I’m supposed to be Christ-like and forgive, but after almost twenty years I still can’t look at that man without remembering that awful day.  The teams tonight only played three quarters.  I’m not sure why.  Gus didn’t play much but it didn’t matter because his JV team swamped the team from Parry McClure High School. 

The varsity game started out the same way.  Parry McClure has one really good player, a Division 1 prospect.  But apparently other players on their team were still playing on their football team so their team was weaker than expected.  Fort Defiance blew them away in the first quarter.  I think the score was something like 25 – 2.  Henry had 8 points including a three pointer.  He picked up two more early in the second quarter but then was pulled so others could play most of the rest of the game.  He really played well when he was on the court.

After the game, Lynn and I got my truck back from Simmons then I worked more on the photo book.  She was exhausted as she hasn’t slept well lately.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 23       Infected                   Died

World             259,014,754           5,182,968   8,700 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,835,216              796,319   1,600 new deaths 

Virginia                 959,156                14,573   1,600 new cases, 25 deaths since yesterday   

Augusta County       10,571                     136   12 new cases, 1 new death since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,478,668  (5,502,631 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 87.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.5% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        88,391 (40,424 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.5% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, still well below the Virginia average. 

November 24, 2021

Today was our travel-to-Ohio day.  Lynn and I got up early and had plenty of time to pack since we wanted to leave around 10:30.  Henry had basketball practice until 10:00 and we wanted to leave at approximately the same time as the Gutshall’s car. 

Lynn had a large number of items to bring with us, especially food related.  She made pepperoni rolls for Wiley and this morning she made English muffins for Butch.  She had previously made cookies.  We had the apple pie from Justin Rexrode at Edward Jones, and an apple cake Lynn actually won from Red Truck Bakery in September that she had frozen.  She had Advent calendars galore and pajamas for the Foys and little Hills.  She had a waxed amaryllis for Jackie.  We both brought warm clothes for the Turkey Trot.  I had the picture for Butch.  She had a crate of craft materials she will hopefully have a chance to do with the kids.

Our car was so full we had to put the cooler on the floor behind my passenger seat.  That’s where Freddie sat in his car seat so he just put his feet on top of the cooler.  That’s the same way he rode all the way to Maine and back.  We bought Betsy and Freddie so the Gutshalls could come in their Rav 4. 

The weather was beautiful for driving.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky though it was chilly.  The temperature was in the mid 40’s when we left.  As expected, traffic was miserable on I-81 but got better once we got to Lexington and got on I-64.  Google maps said our trip would take five hours.

We had planned a stop for lunch in Beckley which was approximately halfway to Athens.  Our car, which was ahead of the Gutshall’s, all elected to eat at Chick Fil a in Beckley.  We had a big but quick lunch there.  Beside Chick Fil A was a Kohl’s.  Betsy needed some sweatpants for tomorrow’s Turkey Trot so Lynn and Betsy went in Kohl’s to find some.  Meanwhile, I discovered that I had just left my hat at Chick Fil A so Freddie and I drove back there.  When I went inside to get my hat, I bumped into Ann, Josh, Henry, and Gus who had also decided to eat at Chick Fil A. 

It was a long ride but we finally got to Ohio U Inn around 5:00.  After we checked in, we headed for Butch’s and were there just after 5:30, just in time for the pizza he had ordered.  Soon his house filled with people including Jim, Kay, Andy, Thomas, Georgia, Josh, Henry, Ann, Gus, Betsy, Freddie, Kit, Colin, Leo, Nora, Butch, Jackie, Wiley, Lynn, three of Butch’s friends, and me. 

Jim had picked up all of our race shirts and bibs for us for tomorrow.  Lynn and I are going to ride with Butch and Jackie there, about 30 minutes from here.  It starts at 9:00 and, unfortunately, the forecast is for rain.

Lynn had brought the desserts for tonight’s dinner.  They went fast.  Butch ended up with lots of pizza left over.  We left his house around 9:00 which was much after his bedtime.  And he had lots to clean up, too.

Coming back to the hotel, we brought Betsy and Freddie while the rest of the Gutshalls went to the grocery store.  It was 10:00 by the time I showered and got to bed.

I am excited about Christmas Eve services at Central.  As I’ve written about before, Betsy and I will be doing a piano – vocal duet of Mary, Did You Know?.  I had time yesterday and today to practice the piano music for it I downloaded.  Betsy is very tied up currently with preparing for her Christmas dance recital and especially for her part in the musical A Christmas Story.  Consequently, we probably won’t practice it together until after December 19, the date of her last performance of A Christmas Story.   I love the talent and the confidence she has to perform.  She is a gem of a girl!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 24       Infected                   Died

World             259,699,497           5,191,762   8,400 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,969,792              798,242   1,900 new deaths 

Virginia                 960,691                14,597   1,500 new cases, 24 deaths since yesterday   

Augusta County       10,587                     136   16 new cases, 0 new deaths since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,529,162  (5,508,146 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 87.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.5% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        88,842 (40,457 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.5% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, still well below the Virginia average. 

November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving, 2021.  Boy, do I have a lot to be thankful for!  I am especially thankful for the wonderful family I have.  Today was spent with that family.  I am so proud of each and every one of them.  We all got along wonderfully today.  We ate well, fellowshipped well, and reminded each other of the value of family. 

I am especially thankful for my brother Butch for making all of the arrangements for our Thanksgiving celebration.  He paid for the entire dinner for all 21 of us today.  He had actually made most of the arrangements over a year ago prior to COVID-19.  We were finally able to carry out his plans today with a great day.

Our day started with the Turkey Trot in nearby Logan OH.  Seventeen of us signed up for it but with rain forecast and not much sleep the Dangler family pulled out.  The rest of us made the 30 minute ride to Logan and did the 5K walk:  Lynn, Kay, Andy, Thomas, Georgia, Jim, Ann, Henry, Freddie, Betsy, Butch, Jackie, and me.  There were 258 participants in the run/walk.  Jim finished 2nd!  And the only person to beat Jim was exactly half his age (19; Jim is 38).  Even Thomas and Georgia were 3rd in their age divisions.  I was 247th out of 258!  But I felt good just to walk 3.1 miles without getting out of breath or hurting.  It felt fine.  And the rain held off.  Temperatures were in the mid-40’s so it really was a good day for a Turkey Trot.

We returned back with a short diversion to Dollar General so Lynn could buy some Christmas lights on sale.  Soon after we got home and changed clothes it was time to go to Butch’s house for lunch.  We had plenty of leftover pizza and pepperoni rolls.  The whole gang came there.  We left in early afternoon to come back to Ohio University Inn to get ready for the big Hill Thanksgiving party.

The party actually began at 4:00.  The room at the Ohio U Inn that had been reserved for us was outfitted with a 72” screen which I plugged my laptop into via HDMI and projected the slide show of over 1,100 photos including some from earlier in the day.  It worked perfectly and ran nearly the whole time we were in the room. 

The exception to the slide show running was when we did the Kahoot! activities I had developed.  They went over very well, in my opinion.  The questions I had made up were family oriented and were basically intended to teach the kids something about their ancestors.  The kids all participated enthusiastically.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the Kahoots.

The hor d’oeurves we had at 4:00 were excellent.  The 5:30 meal was good.  It was your basic Thanksgiving dinner:  turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, rolls, and pies for dessert.  There was an abundance of food for the 21 of us (the same 13 who ran/walked in the 5K plus Josh, Gus, Kit, Colin, Leo, Nora, Mary K., and Wiley).  Lynn had the foresight at the second Dollar General we stopped at this morning to buy storage containers.  She ended up filling nearly all of them with leftover dinner food.  Butch took half of the food home and we got the rest.

Both before and after the dinner, Lynn was able to do her craft work with Betsy, Freddie, Georgia, and Thomas.  The kids always like doing her crafty ideas.

It was a very good day.  Tomorrow will be another long day of driving.  Our plan is to leave around noon.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 25       Infected                   Died

World             260,276,067           5,198,847   7,100 deaths per day in the world….

US                     48,999,737              798,551   Only 320 deaths reported since yesterday 

Virginia                 962,472                14,616   1,700 new cases, 19 deaths since yesterday   

Augusta County       10,632                     139   45 new cases, 3 new deaths since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,588,773  (5,514,602 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 87.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.6% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        89,000 (40,472 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, still well below the Virginia average. 

November 26, 2021

Today was driving home day.  We all agreed to eat breakfast at the Ohio U Inn this morning, visit a little more, then leave around noon.  The Inn gave us a late checkout time so this worked perfectly. 

One thing that I neglected to think of yesterday when I was thinking of all I was thankful for.  I am thankful that the United States has a President who has taken the bull by the horns in keeping us safe from COVID-19.  He has made vaccines free and easily available to the public.  He has enforced vaccine mandates for government employees and private employers with large numbers of employees.  He has provided the public with accurate, truthful reporting, unlike our previous President.  If Trump had stayed in office, Lord knows how rampant COVID-19 would be in our country.  And if the public who still listens to that idiot would get themselves vaccinated we could get it behind us.  As it was, our family spent the entire Thanksgiving unmasked, indoors, and safe.  Thank you, Joe Biden.

And I should also say a big thank you to the unnamed experts who developed the vaccines.  They are truly life-savers.  Where would we be without them?

I got a text from Jim at 6:30 AM that he was at the breakfast bar awaiting for them to open.  So I got up, dressed in the dark, and met him there where we each had a cup of good Starbucks coffee and good conversation.  Lynn had not slept well the previous night and she was sleeping well so I tiptoed out.  She joined us around 8:00.  Soon the others came and we ate a good breakfast.  We ended up with twenty people there as even Butch and Jackie joined us.

After breakfast, Butch and Jackie took Lynn and me to a couple of nearby places to shop including an old mill.  We were back in plenty of time to leave Athens at noon.

Beckley is exactly halfway home so we stopped there at Tamarack on our way home.  It took us a long time, but we managed to get in bathroom breaks, lunch, and some shopping.  It was near 4:00 by the time we got back on the road.

We got a text from Jim that he had made it home safely.  He had left just after breakfast.  Kay and Andy and kids were going to spend the night with an old friend of hers in Pittsburgh tonight.  They also left not long after breakfast and got there around 3:00.  Kit texted that she had gotten home safe, too.

Betsy and Freddie are such good travelers!  Betsy had her earbuds in the whole time.  Freddie had earphones connected to my iPad.  We hardly heard from them the whole way.

The drive from Beckley to home is usually a tale of two completely different roads.  From Beckley to Lexington we are on I-64.  Today the highway was practically deserted.  Sometimes we’d see zero cars in both directions.  The route from Lexington to Verona is on I-81.  Most of the time it is bumper to bumper.  Tonight it wasn’t that bad and I’m not sure why.

We got home around 6:15 PM.  Lynn had driven the entire way and done a fine job.  I kid her sometimes because she is an excellent driver but not-so-excellent parker.  Her tires are frequently on or over the parking lines.  But on the road she is safe and efficient.  I feel safe riding with her.

We didn’t stay home that long.  Lynn wanted to get some poinsettias from Lowe’s and needed some things from Costco so we dropped Betsy and Freddie at their house and headed north to get this shopping done.  We got back around 8:30.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 26       Infected                   Died

World             260,820,796           5,205,398   7,100 deaths per day in the world….

US                     49,022,858              798,894   Only 320 deaths reported since yesterday 

Virginia                 963,739                14,635   1,300 new cases, 19 deaths since yesterday   

Augusta County       10,633                     139   Only 1 new case reported since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 12,612,484  (5,517,219 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  Thomas, Georgia, and Freddie now have their first shot.  That’s 87.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 64.6% of the total population fully vaccinated).

            Augusta County        89,050 (40,486 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Josh, Lynn, and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 53.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now, still well below the Virginia average. 

October 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

October 1, 2021

We spent the first day of October driving to Morgantown for another football weekend.  And it did take us most of the day to get there.  We left home at 8:00 AM and met our friends Gerry and Lynne Hobbes at Apple Annie’s Restaurant in Morgantown at 6:00 PM.  Imbetween, we did lots of things.

We drove straight from home to Blackwater Falls.  Our first experience there was a one mile walk which took us over another falls, Elakala Falls, not far from the park office.  Then we went to the scenic overlook to see Blackwater Falls, then went to the walkway which takes you directly to the falls.  We were a little disappointed because we hoped the trees would be vibrant in color this time of the year.  Indeed, not far from Blackwater Falls we had seen lots of red and orange in the woods but around the falls the trees were not very colorful.  It was still a very pretty visit especially given the beautiful weather we had today.

From Blackwater Falls, we drove the couple of miles to Thomas, WV.  Thomas is such a neat little town with lots of coffee shops, art studios, music shop, and even an apple shop where we bought two candy covered apples.  I had a very good Americano coffee at the coffee shop.  We spent a while visiting all of the shops along main street (the only real street in Thomas).

From Thomas we drove on back, windy roads to Kingwood because that’s where the annual Buckwheat Festival was taking place.  It was the place to be—like the festival we attended last week, the Pumpkin Festival, there were hundreds and hundreds of people there riding the carnival rides, eating the fatty foods like funnel cakes, observing the livestock displays, and visiting the arts and crafts displays.  To be honest, the arts and crafts section at this festival were the best we’ve seen at any of the festivals this year.

We didn’t eat anything buckwheat but we did walk around town a good bit before heading to Morgantown.  We actually got to Morgantown a little early so we went to Aldi’s and bought some pumpkins before driving to Apple Annie’s to meet Lynne and Gerry.

We had a nice visit and meal with them.  I had an Italian sampler consisting of chicken parmigiana, spaghetti, and lasagna plus a salad.  It was superb.  Lynn had chicken salad.  We talked with Gerry and Lynne for over an hour and a half. 

Afterwards we drove the 30 miles south to Bridgeport to the Hilton Garden Inn.  We’ve stayed at this Hilton many times.  We had previously decided to spend both nights this weekend at the hotel so we’d have plenty of time to enjoy northern West Virginia and the foliage.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 1             Infected                   Died

World             235,039,229           4,805,074

US                     44,443,405              718,984               

Virginia                 869,328                12,806   2,600 new cases since yesterday.

Augusta County         9,468                     110  

            Vaccinated  (Note:  these figures were not updated today—not sure why).

Virginia          10,568,255  (5,145,939 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,320  (38,028 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 2, 2021

Today was a great day for Lynn and me with one glaring exception—the football game.  WVU once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  After falling miserably behind, 17 – 0, in the first half, they played the third quarter like champions and tied the game.  In the fourth quarter, Texas Tech took a 20 – 17 lead but down the field came the Mountaineers with a little over four minutes to go.  A score would have given them a great lead with little time to go.  They got down to the six yard line of Texas Tech.  On a crucial 4th and 1 yard to go play, they were called for a false start.  The replay clearly showed it was offsides against Texas Tech which would have given the Mountaineers a first a goal.  But, alas, WVU had to settle for a tying field goal.  Then we all watched in horror as Texas Tech marched the ball down the field and, like last week, kicked a field goal with under 30 seconds to go to make the final score 23 – 20.  Yuck!

WVU made several big mistakes in the game as they have in all of the close games this season.  The coaching staff didn’t get some plays in on time which forced them to call several timeouts which meant at the end of the game they couldn’t stop the clock.  They had numerous penalties.  The fan base is not pleased.  Oh well, like Lynn says, it’s only a game.

Lynn washed her hair this morning so I went to Panera Bread, about a mile away, to get our breakfast and bring it back to the hotel.  It was a decent breakfast. 

The weather was beautiful today though it was a little cold this morning.  I had found a Bridgeport park nearby with a very, very nice walking trail on it.  The trail went beside/around two different small lakes.  So we started the day with a couple of miles under our belt.

We stopped by a Dollar General on our way back to the hotel.  Lynn found some Christmas decorations she really, really wants for her party.  Like she has done many times in the past, she bought every one of the ornaments she wanted in the store but still needed several more for the party so, as we have done numerous times in the past, we made our route to the football game via several Dollar Generals.  She found some, but not all, she wants so tomorrow on the way back home we’ll be making lots of more Dollar General stops, I’m sure.

The last Dollar General stop for us was in Star City and not far away from where we had decided to park for the game.  There is a church on Patteson Drive, near the Coliseum, which offers free parking.  The walk from there is a couple of miles but it is an easy walk.

On our way to the football stadium, we stopped at the Alumni Building for a bathroom break.  There we also found some neat free pins to wear including some which say “Vaccinated Mountaineer” which we both wore to the game.  I asked the receptionist at the Alumni office if it was typical for classes to have special events to mark landmark years since their graduation.  I asked this becaue next year will be the 50th year since I graduated form WVU.  My roommate Hal Koerner had brought this to my attention when we were in Oregon.  The receptionist responded that, indeed, the Alumni Office sponsored several activities on a week in June.  We will be receiving an e-mail and US mail inviting us to come back to campus for a tour, banquet, and other events in June.  I look forward to that e-mail.  I immediately texted Hal and Paul Porterfield, both whom seemed interested.

At the game, Lynn and I were almost the only ones I saw who wore masks.  There were probably 55,000 people in the stadium but likely fewer than 100 who wore masks.  West Virginia’s COVID-19 infection rate is terrible—I believe it is the worst in the nation right now.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

October 2             Infected                   Died

World             235,417,004           4,811,563

US                     44,490,897              719,674               

Virginia                 869,328                12,806   No update because of the weekend.

Augusta County         9,468                     110   No update because of the weekend

            Vaccinated  (Note:  this data, like the infections/deaths above, was not updated)

Virginia          10,568,255  (5,145,939 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,320  (38,028 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 3, 2021

We took our time driving home from the Hilton Garden Inn in Bridgeport.  After another breakfast from Panera Bread, we went to our favorite pepperoni roll store, Tomara’s in Clarksburg where we stocked up with pepperoni rolls for the Gutshalls for lunch, small pepperoni rolls for us, rolls, and even some fresh cookies they had made.  Then we started our Dollar General scavenger hunt.

Our Dollar General stops were in Clarksburg, Jane Lew, Buckhannon, Parsons, and Davis WV.  By then Lynn had all of the ornaments she wanted (probably plus some).  We still had a few more stores we could have stopped at along the way home but she got all she needed.  We also stopped in Thomas where I got another Americano coffee and we ate our cookies from Tomara’s.

While Lynn was doing some of her Dollar General shopping, I decided to learn how Americano coffee is made. I learned that it is half expresso, half hot water. It got its name from World War II when American soldiers in Italy thought their expresso coffee was too strong and asked for water to dilute it. I really like it but I do not want an expresso machine. Instead, I’ll enjoy it as a treat when I’m at coffee shops like the one in Thomas.

The drive through Tucker County was especially pretty with lots of red, orange, and yellow trees.  Strangely, just ten miles away everything was green.

We got home around 2:00, unpacked, and did a few chores before meeting the Gutshall family at The Depot in Staunton for dinner.  We wanted to celebrate both Betsy’s and Josh’s birthdays.  It was the first time for us to eat at The Depot in months.  I’d have to say that they’ve made some changes to their menu and service I wasn’t particularly happy with.  But the dinner seemed fine for the others and that’s what matters.

I took over 75 pictures this weekend.  One of them was just a quick shot I took of Lynn as we walked along a trail near Blackwater Falls.  It is one of the best pictures I’ve ever seen of her!  She always looks good to me but this picture really makes her beauty stand out.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers.  Unfortunately, since it is the weekend the Virginia numbers haven’t been updated:

October 3             Infected                   Died

World             235,695,081           4,815,411

US                     44,516,450              719,925               

Virginia                 869,328                12,806   No update because of the weekend.

Augusta County         9,468                     110   No update because of the weekend

            Vaccinated (these numbers were updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,601,105  (5,164,042 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.5% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,660  (38,231 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 4, 2021

I like that picture of Lynn so much I had it printed today at Walmart then I bought a frame for it so I can look at it over and over.  She is an attractive woman; the picture clearly shows that.

Tonight I had an unusual house experience.  We had just come home from running some short errands (including buying a ticket for tonight’s $685 million lottery) and getting some dessert from Dairy Queen.  When we turned the unlocked latch to enter from the garage into the kitchen, the door acted like it was locked.  I thought perhaps we had inadvertently locked it on the way out.  So I went around the house, through the back door, and tried to open it for Lynn.  It was not locked but it would not open.  The door knob would turn but the latch wouldn’t move.  I was able to take both knobs off but still couldn’t get it to budge.  I finally took the door off the hinges then removed the stuck door latch.  I suppose I’ll get a replacement tomorrow.  We already have a deadbolt on that door so I won’t get a lockable one this time.

Today was catch-up day.  I spent four hours at Central making the weekly deposit, reconciling the four different bank accounts, developing and printing the monthly reports for August, setting up the payroll for the 15th of the month, and paying the monthly federal taxes.  Plus I got a box of food from the Food Lion ministry for Lynn to take to Juan Pablo this afternoon.

Freddie came here after school.  We played on his Wii-U for a few minutes until it was time for me to take Betsy to her dance classes in Staunton.  Poor Betsy—she had dance classes from 4:15 – 7:00 then had practice for the musical she just got a part in, The Christmas Story, in Waynesboro from 7:00 – 9:00.  Ann picked her up after dance and took her to Waynesboro.  After I took Betsy to her dance classes, Freddie and I came back here and played some more.  Then I took him home so Lynn and I could eat dinner.

Tomorrow is not a day I’m looking forward to.  I have a MRI scheduled early on Wednesday AM at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg.  I am not allowed to eat anything after 4:00 tomorrow until after the MRI.  I can skip an occasional lunch but dinner is a different matter.

Lynn thought she’d be working at McGaheysville Elementary most of the day today and all day tomorrow.  The school has a new ELL teacher who isn’t trained to test students and she thought she’d have to test several students.  But today they were able to get everything taken care of in just a few hours which means her tomorrow will be unencumbered. 

COVID-19 cases nationally have dropped some, no doubt thanks to more people getting vaccinated. Here are today’s statistics:

October 4             Infected                   Died

World             236,112,710           4,821,917

US                     44,654,167              722,023               

Virginia                 877,090                12,908   Over 7,500 cases since Friday.

Augusta County         9,665                     111   200 cases since Friday

            Vaccinated (these numbers were updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,609,562  (5,168,716 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,682  (38,248 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.6% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  Not enough people got vaccinated over the weekend to raise this even 1/10th of 1%. 

October 5, 2021

I’ve played tennis with many people over my lifetime who hit the ball great during warmups then played poorly once the set began.  Today I was that person.  Warming up, I hit the ball well and felt good.  But once we started play, I moved like my legs were in concrete and sprayed the balls wide, deep, and in the net.  Our foursome consisted of Won, Lewis Moore, Danny Anson, and me.  When I played with both Won and Lewis, we lost.  The only time I won was when I played with Danny.  If I had played well we would have won all three sets.  Oh well, that’s what getting old is all about.

After tennis, I went to Central where I paid two bills, got the mail, and got a large box of food for Elizabeth’s family.  Then I went to Lowe’s and got the door knob set to replace the one that broke last night.  I surprised myself in that when I got home it only took me about 10 minutes max to get it installed.  I’m not a good fix-it person at all.  My skills are just awful when it comes to manual work.  My confidence is even lower than my competence.

Betsy got her first vaccination shot today.  Hooray!  But as I celebrate her good news, CNN has a story today of a Virginia family who lost a ten year old girl to COVID.  The poor girl was perfectly healthy, then got COVID and died within five days.  So sad.

Josh’s parents usually get Freddie on Tuesdays but we offered to trade them for Thursday since we’ll be going to southern West Virginia then.  Freddie has after-school reading now on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting today, so my job was to pick him up from school at 4:45.  Lynn took Betsy to her dance classes this afternoon.

Before I picked him up, Henry came by the house to work a small set of Calculus problems.  As always, we both worked each problem and compared answers.  It didn’t take him 30 minutes to finish his assignment.  He does very well.

I had a sandwich at 3:45 which was the last I was allowed to eat before tomorrow morning’s MRI.  I am only allowed a swallow of water in order to take my nighttime and morning pills.  That’s it.  Plus, I had to give myself an enema.  Yuk!

Also before I picked Freddie up, I went to the grocery store and got a package of ice cream treats so he’d have one for having spent an extra 90 minutes at school.  He didn’t want to go home; he wanted to come here and play Wii-U.  What could I say?  I didn’t have anything to do and he ended up loving it when we played.  Of course, when he plays against me he clobbers me.  For me, getting clobbered has never been so much fun.

Lynn had an easy day today so she spent it doing some fun things.  She went with Cheryl Kent to Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville to get apples this afternoon.  Then she and her sister Kay went to El Sol in Harrisonburg for Taco Tuesday.  She also transported Betsy twice today; once from her vaccine at Walgreen’s in Verona back to her school.  Then, after school, she took her to ballet.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 5             Infected                   Died

World             236,519,024           4,829,920

US                     44,757,192              724,421               

Virginia                 878,518                12,955   1,500 new cases since yesterday

Augusta County         9,690                     112   25 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated (these numbers were updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,621,554  (5,174,986 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,770  (38,286 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 6, 2021

If what follows is TMI I apologize.  As I’ve said many times, the reason I’ve done this blog is that it has been a pressure-reliever for me.  I worried about catching COVID-19 for months, complained about the slowness that the vaccines originally rolled out, and lately have been confounded by the ignorance of nearly half of the population who haven’t been vaccinated.  Writing has helped me express those frustrations. 

My MRI this morning was no fun.  With no breakfast nor coffee, I got to Sentara at 7:30 AM thanks to Lynn’s driving and was quickly taken back in to the imaging area.  Lynn dropped me and came back to meet me when it was over but I was on my own for the actual MRI.  They required another enema.  When I was a child I had an occasional enema but now I’ve had two in a 12 hour period.  They also took blood and put me on an IV so they could release the dye into my system for the MRI. 

The challenging part was that I was told I had to lie completely still for the entire time and that it would take between 30 and 40 minutes.  I was strapped to a large bed and inserted into a cylinder like a finger is inserted into a glove.  My head barely stuck out the far side.  I worried that my legs would cramp or that I’d have to go to the bathroom.  Fortunately, neither happened.  All during the experience I could hear loud clanging noises, whirring motors, and feel small hammer-like sensations on my back.  None hurt me and I had headphones to put a dent in the noise.  For many reasons I was happy to return home and fix some coffee and breakfast.  Who knows when I’ll get the results of the MRI.  My follow-up appointment with Dr. Gillock isn’t until December 22. 

When I start feeling sorry for myself, there are always reminders that I don’t have it so bad.  I overheard one man in the imaging area near me tell the technician that he had lost his wife to COVID-19.  Another couple Lynn talked to in the waiting room was dealing with the man’s cancer and a recent doubt with kidney stones.  At her lunch today, Lynn ate with Bonnie Ball and Pat Collins.  Bonnie told them how her husband Ron has now had dementia for the past sixteen years.  While they were there, another couple we’ve known since Kay’s volleyball playing days came in with the husband clearly showing how dementia is overtaking him.

Bonnie told them something that was profound.  They were talking about various people dying and the grief that is associated with that occasion.  But Bonnie pointed out that she had, in effect, been grieving all those sixteen years because her husband was not the man she married.  How sad!

I didn’t do much noteworthy all day long.  I did gather some trash and made a run to the dump between rain showers this afternoon.  And I got our mail held since we’ll only be here one day over the next 12 days that mail is delivered (next Monday). 

Ordinarily on Wednesdays I have Freddie after school.  Today he had a dentist appointment so Josh met him when he got off the bus.  Betsy also rode his bus today because she had a few math problems she wanted help with.  It only took us a few minutes to get it done.  That’s when I made my trash run.

This afternoon I got back the results of the blood test they did associated with my MRI.  I was told that this test would be done to test my kidney function.  There were two values reported:

The first was my CREATININE level.  The normal value is in the range 0.8 to 1.6.  Mine was 1.5 so that should be OK.  But the other value reported was something called POC-eGFR Non African American for which the normal level is 60 or higher.  Mine was 46.3.  When I looked this up online, it said that this value measures the kidney’s filtration rate and that I am in the range “mild to moderate loss of kidney function.”  That is scary.  Who knows what’s going on here.

So with that news to worry about I got another notice that the results of the MRI were posted.  Of course, these postings are in medical terminology not for lay people like myself to understand.  But I did gather this from the report:  I have a “PI-RADS 3 lesion within the left prostate apex.” And it said “Recommend follow-up prostate MRI in 6 months along with PSA trending.”  I read more online what the PI-RADS number means.  A PI-RAD of 1 means the lesion is likely benign.  A score of 2 means it is probably benign.  A score of 3 means it is indeterminant.  A score of 4 means it is probably malignant.  A score of 5 means it is likely malignant.  I’ll talk to Butch this weekend about his MRI but I’m betting this is the same result he got because he told me his MRI was “inconclusive.” 

All this just gives me more to worry about.  My plan is to try to call Dr. Gillock tomorrow and see if he will go over the test results with me via phone since my appointment with him isn’t until December 22 and I do not want to wait that long to find out what the tests show.

In the meantime, here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 6             Infected                   Died

World             236,992,560           4,838,375

US                     44,884,411              726,800               

Virginia                 882,437                12,999   Almost 4,000 new cases since yesterday

Augusta County         9,755                     112   65 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated (these numbers were updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,630,604  (5,179,513 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,863  (38,344 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 7, 2021

Today was an unusual day.  It was my sister’s 76th birthday.  Originally, Butch was going to bring her to Bluefield WV where Lynn and I would meet them.  That plan got changed over time.  Mary K. decided that she couldn’t come since she was in the process of moving from the house she and Denny had lived in for nearly 50 years to a one story home near her daughter Kit.  In the meantime, Lynn invited Paul and Sandy Porterfield to meet us in Bluefield.  Then Butch started seeing Jackie.  So it ended up that Butch, Jackie, Paul, Sandy, Lynn, and I met in Bluefield though our only celebration of Mary K.’s birthday was to call her from the Bluefield Inn, the nice B & B in Bluefield where we all are staying for the weekend.

Lynn and I didn’t leave home until late morning because we knew the others wouldn’t be there until late afternoon.  She was nice enough to make English muffins for Butch and pepperoni rolls for Wiley.  She drove because we felt like her larger car would be better in case four of us wanted to ride in one vehicle. 

The ride here was uneventful except for a few miles outside of Bluefield.  Google maps had warned us of a 25 minute delay on I-77.  But there was a way to bypass the incident that caused the backup by taking US 52 for a few miles which we did.  Then we got back on I-77 and came on to Bluefield.

The Bluefield Inn is a large bed and breakfast where Butch stayed previously.  This is our first time here.  Lynn got an e-mail from the owner with directions on how to come in through the locked side door with a code so we unloaded all our belongings in our room without actually checking in.  The directions had told us that the room key would be in the room, which it was.  By the time we were in our rooms, the other four were still on their way.  Actually Butch and Jackie were caught in a delay on the West Virginia turnpike.  They told us to meet them in Bramwell.

Lynn and I got to Bramwell around 4:00.  By 4:30 Butch and Jackie were there.  We walked around town for a while including the During Avenue loop by our old house.  We were back in town by 5:00; Paul and Sandy got there soon afterward.

The six of us had agreed to eat dinner at Casa Familia in Bramwell.  It’s hard to believe that Bramwell has a Mexican restaurant.  I can guarantee you that nothing I ate tonight was ever eaten in the Hill household.  But it was delicious; all six of us enjoyed our meal there.  Lynn and I both had Pollo Loco which was a chicken and rice dish with vegetables and cheese.  We also had fresh guacamole on chips.  Yum!

Bramwell never changes much.  This time there is a bakery on Main Street though it wasn’t open today.  Neither was the train depot.  Both are supposedly open from 8:00 – 4:00 tomorrow so maybe we’ll go back though the weather forecast is for rain most of the day, unlike today where the weather was perfect.  The other defining part of town which wasn’t there when we grew up were the ATV vehicles.  There were plenty of them since the ATV trail is nearby.  Truly, this business has kept Bramwell going in these tough times, especially with COVID-19.

We all returned to the Bluefield Inn where Butch and I called Mary K.  She seemed quite chipper for 76.  It was good to hear her.  Then we turned in for the night with our next meeting at breakfast tomorrow.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 7             Infected                   Died

World             237,513,045           4,848,556

US                     45,016,895              730,136               

Virginia                 885,323                13,031   Almost 3,000 new cases since yesterday

Augusta County         9,802                     112   47 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated (these numbers were NOT updated since yesterday)

Virginia          10,630,604  (5,179,513 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,863  (38,344 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 8, 2021

Before this morning we really had no plan for the day but it turned out to be quite a nice day.  It began with a delicious breakfast including blueberry pancakes at the Bluefield Inn.  We then sat around and talked for quite a while before loading up and heading to the Bluefield City Park to walk.  It had rained until early morning but the rain stopped just as we began our hike around the park and the weather then stayed good the rest of the day. 

We walked around two miles at the park then headed straight to Bramwell.  We got there near noon.  We decided to eat lunch at the Corner Shop which proved to be a great choice.  Lynn had a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake for her lunch and I had a pepperoni roll and a sundae.  The six of us ate in the part of the building where the Chaparrals used to play on Saturday nights. 

Before going to Bramwell, Lynn, Sandy, and Jackie had stopped at Sam’s Club in Bluefield and  Dollar General in Bluewell to put together an art kit for the son of the proprietor at Casa Familia where we ate dinner yesterday.  During our dinner, this six year old had befriended them and showed them his art work which was really quite good for a tyke his age.  So Lynn had the idea to put together an art kit and take it to him today.  I don’t know who was touched more by this, the young boy or his mom.  They had to wait until he got off the school bus before giving it to him.

In the meantime, we also spent time at the museum at the Bramwell train depot.  I should mention that we also had purchased a new Bramwell book at the Corner Shop.  This book is a picture book featuring great photography by a man named Hal Brainard and a storyline by our old friend Betty Goins.  The pictures really show off Bramwell’s mansions.

After walking around Bramwell for a while, Butch and Jackie came back to Bluefield while Sandy, Paul, Lynn, and I drove to McComas, Sandy’s home growing up.  My how that part of the county has disintegrated!  It is sad to see how people there now live and reminds us all of how far we’ve come.  Indeed, we’ve all been blessed immeasurably.

By the time we returned to the Bluefield Inn, it was time to get ready for dinner.  Butch had made reservations for us at The Vault, a really upscale restaurant in downtown Bluefield.  Lynn and I had eaten there with him and cousin Becky earlier this year.  Our meal didn’t let us down.  I had chicken marsala.  Lynn has salmon.  Brother Butch kindly picked up the tab. 

Tomorrow Butch and Jackie are going to return to Athens.  Paul, Sandy, Lynn, and I will be staying one more night here.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 8             Infected                   Died

World             237,963,890           4,856,142

US                     45,130,780              732,324   Still 2,000 new US deaths each day               

Virginia                 888,159                13,075   Almost 3,000 new cases since yesterday

Augusta County         9,836                     113   34 new cases since yesterday and 1 death

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,662,568  (5,196,313 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.9% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        75,058  (38,485 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 50.9% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 9, 2021

Our plans changed abruptly this morning.  We were booked to stay at the Bluefield Inn through tomorrow.  We knew Butch and Jackie would be leaving this morning but Paul and Sandy were going to stay on to Sunday.  But this morning, Paul and Sandy told us they wanted to leave today so they wouldn’t have to drive so long on Sunday.  I think they expected to be charged for the night no matter what.  But when they checked, they were told they could leave with no charge for Saturday night.  All of a sudden, Lynn and I were going to be in Bluefield by ourselves.  So, with nothing to lose, we asked if we could also bail early and were told yes.  So quickly we got all of our things together and checked out.

We began the day with another fine breakfast at the Bluefield Inn.  The people there were very good to us in every way.  For sure we’ll check into staying with them again in the future.

After everyone had checked out and Butch and Jackie headed for Ohio, the four of us drove to Burkes Garden VA.  We took two cars since neither of us was coming back to Bluefield afterwards.  We had heard that Burkes Garden was a very unusual part of Virginia with a high valley and lush gardens.  Its online description is “Enclosed by mountain ranges, the isolated valley is a relatively flat tract high in the Appalachian mountain chain. Created from a collapsed dome, the limestone continues to erode, leaving one of the best farming areas in Virginia.”  It took about 45 minutes for us to get there.

Our first stop was at Mattie’s Place General Store.  The reviews for this place were right on.  We ate a fine lunch there with sandwiches on homemade sourdough buns.  I had a ham and cheese sandwich while Lynn got a toasted cheese.  Lynn also bought some cinnamon buns for us to eat the next few mornings.

After Mattie’s, we drove the 12 mile loop around Burkes Garden.  We made two more stops.  First, we stopped at the old post office which doubled as an artisan shop with nice quilts.  The second stop was at the General Store.  The scenery was especially nice with green farms within the loop and colorful trees surrounding the valley.

We then parted company as the Porterfields headed to North Carolina while we headed back towards home.  However, on the way we were able to get in touch with Jim and met him and his boys at his house.  We went from there to a Chick Fil A for dinner.  It was a short but fun visit with Jim, Faron, and Coen.  The boys are so cute!  I believe school was worked well for them, too.  They seemed to be more outgoing and verbal.

We got home near 9:00.  Lynn did a good job driving.  We may have gotten home a day early but our stay here will still be shortlived because we leave at 7:00 AM on Tuesday morning for Salt Lake City.  We’ve got lots to do before then!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

October 9             Infected                   Died

World             238,349,712           4,862,807

US                     45,179,209              733,058                           

Virginia                 888,159                13,075   Data not updated due to weekend

Augusta County         9,836                     113   Data not updated due to weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,677,782  (5,203,751 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 61.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        75,207  (38,568 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.0% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 10, 2021

This was a normal Sunday for us.  It included Sunday School, Church, going to the grocery store, preparing dinner for the Gutshall family, and enjoying their company for dinner and conversation afterwards.

I hadn’t participated in the Zoom Sunday School for a while but I joined back in today and even played the piano for the group again.  There were ten of us online.  No sooner than it was over, Lynn and I went to Central for the morning worship services.  There were around 35 people present. 

After that, we made a quick stop at a Dollar General then went to Kroger.  We just needed a few things for dinner so we were back home for lunch soon thereafter.  Lynn and I then peeled a bunch of apples to be cooked for dinner.  While she got them cooking, I went back to Central to do some treasurer’s work.  I paid three bills, filed some receipts, and submitted the quarterly federal tax return.  It took me around 90 minutes to get all this done.

When I got back home, I helped Lynn fix dinner though she did 80% of the work.  She fixed bacon, sausage, apples, and pancakes for dinner.  The pancakes alone took her over an hour.  She made a huge pan of them and kept them warm in the oven until the family got here.  My biggest job of the day was to run the dishwasher and empty it twice.  It was a good dinner, though, and I think everyone enjoyed it.

Ann, Josh, and kids were here until almost 9:00.  Tomorrow is not a school day for most of them; it is Indigenous Peoples’ Day (formerly Columbus Day).  So Josh is off from work and Augusta County Schools are closed for a teacher workday.  Ann is the only one in the family who has to go to school or work.

Tomorrow will be such a busy day for Lynn and me because we’ve got to get all our chores behind us and bags packed before we go to bed.  We need to be in bed early then because we’ll be getting up around 4:00 AM so we can be at the Charlottesville airport by 6:00 AM.

Looking forward to our Utah trip this coming week, I looked at the weather forecasts for Salt Lake City and Moab.  It will be chilly there.  One day, the high in Salt Lake City is supposed to be 43o with rain and snow!  We’ll be packing some warm clothes.  I believe the same day it is going to be so cold in Salt Lake City it will be 85o here.

The number of cases of COVID-19 have fallen, thankfully.  In 45 states, the rates of new Covid-19 cases either declined or stayed relatively steady this past week compared to the previous week, according to data Saturday from Johns Hopkins University.  Five states — Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania — had at least 10% more new cases this past week compared to the previous week.

Here are the COVID-19 statistics:

October 10           Infected                   Died

World             238,630,043           4,866,952

US                     45,179,209              733,058                           

Virginia                 888,159                13,075   Data not updated due to weekend

Augusta County         9,836                     113   Data not updated due to weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,690,584  (5,210,704 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 61.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        75,282  (38,614 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 11, 2021

I panicked a little this morning when I noticed that my Symbicort prescription (an inhaler) was almost empty.  With our trip beginning very early tomorrow and today being a holiday, I was worried.   I didn’t know if Kroger’s pharmacy would be open.  Plus, the box said I had 0.67 refills left and I didn’t know if that meant they’d fill it or not.  Finally, Kroger has been awful lately about getting my prescriptions filled, sometimes taking days.  Nonetheless, I called and called them this morning until I got someone on the phone.  I gave her the prescription number and, luckily, she said it could be refilled.  She said it would be ready by mid afternoon.  By 12:30 I had it in my hand.  Whew!

CNN had some good news today about COVID-19.  The number of Americans getting a dose of Covid-19 vaccine has jumped to about 1 million a day, according to data this past week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  New cases are declining, with about 93,814 infections reported each day this past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Daily Covid-19 deaths are slowly decreasing, with an average of 1,692 deaths per day.  And, Merck said Monday it is seeking US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for its experimental antiviral Covid-19 treatment, molnupiravir.  Plus, the booster shot for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson has been submitted to the FDA for approval.  In our family, Butch and Ann both got the Moderna vaccine and are waiting for their booster.

I was determined to get everything done today that had to be done before our Utah trip.  It began with a trip to the dump this morning.  After I got our trash and the Gutshall’s loaded up, it occurred to me that the dump might not be open but it was.  Another reason to be thankful!

I packed throughout the day today.  My goal was to be able to get up and in the car in minutes tomorrow since we’ve got to be at the Charlottesville airport by 6:00 for our 7:03 flight.  I’ve packed lots of warm clothes because the weather forecast continues to be one of cold, even some snow.

I had a 2:40 appointment for my annual physical exam scheduled with Dr. LaGrua but I had an hour to kill beforehand so I cut our grass.  It was quite high; I’m tickled that I was able to get it cut before our trip.

My physical went fine.  Dr. LaGrua was concerned about a few pre-cancerous places on my skin which he froze off.  But I had one place on my nose he thought might be beyond that so he took a biopsy of it and will send it off.  He said that even if it is cancerous, this isn’t the type of cancer that spreads and it can be cut out.  We’ll decide what to do when the results of the biopsy come back.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 11           Infected                   Died

World             238,954,364           4,871,792

US                     45,270,612              734,262                           

Virginia                 888,159                13,075   Data not updated due to holiday

Augusta County         9,836                     113   Data not updated due to holiday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,694,251  (5,212,441 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 61.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        75,294 (38,621 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 12, 2012

The day started with the alarm going off at 4:15 AM.  Actually I had awaken and gotten up a little before that.  We had to hustle to eat our breakfast, finish packing, load up, and drive to Charlottesville in order to get there by 6:00.  We were out the door at 4:55.

Though the valley was foggy, Afton Mountain was clear so we sailed on to Charlottesville and up US 29 (even getting most every light green) and got to the airport at 5:55.  I dropped Lynn and most of our baggage off so she could go inside and check us in and get our boarding passes while I parked the car in the Economy lot and walked back to the terminal.  Everything went as planned and we were through the TSA security check and onto our gate in plenty of time. 

The flight to Charlotte NC left on time and was very smooth.  It took around an hour.  We got there early so we had sufficient time to walk through the terminal (quite a long hike) to the next gate for our flight from Charlotte to Salt Lake City.  Actually this flight left a few minutes late though it got to Salt Lake City on time.  For the most part, it was another smooth flight.  This one took 4 ½ hours.  Lynn and I kept busy by watching various movies and news shows.

With the two hour time differential, we arrived in Salt Lake City around noon.  It took a while to walk to the car rental kiosk and get our Thrifty vehicle, a Nissan.  We arranged this through AAA in Charlottesville; one advantage of doing so is that not only did we get a discount but we could add Lynn as a driver for no additional charge. 

We were quite hungry by this time since our breakfast had happened long before this (and our stomachs thought it was near 3:00 instead of 1:00 Central Time.  Just before we had exited the plane, Lynn asked the girl sitting beside us if she was local and she said yes.  Lynn then asked for a recommendation for lunch and she quickly said Red Iguana.  It turned out that the Red Iguana restaurant wasn’t far from the airport so we went straight there. 

It was a good choice.  They had wonderful, authentic Mexican food.  We both had combination meals.  For example, I had an enchilada, a taco, and a chile reyeno.  Plus we had chips with guacamole.  Yum!  This was our only big meal of the day.

Next we headed south on I-15.  Our overall plan was to drive two and a half hours south of Salt Lake City today so we could more quickly get to Capitol Reef National Park tomorrow.  Unfortunately there are no hotels anywhere near Capitol Reef so we settled for Richfield UT.  Our drive to the park tomorrow morning will be almost an hour and a half. 

On the way, we decided to take a 30 minute detour to see a nice Utah waterfall, Bridal Falls near Provo.  It was raining at the time so it was hard to get pictures but we got a few good takes of this 600’ waterfall.  Then we drove toward Richfield.  Our drive took us right through the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo. 

It rained for the first half of the drive.  However, for much of the time on I-15 the speed limit was 80 mph and I didn’t drive under that.  We noticed that on some of the distant mountains there was snow on top.  The further south we drove, the closer that snow seemed to come.

Indeed, the thermometer on the car first read around 40o, then it started dropping.  It got as low as 34o especially on some of the higher parts of the road (one summit, for example, was 6250 ft. in elevation).  So the closer we got to Richfield the more the precipitation was snow! 

The temperature never got to freezing so the road conditions were OK but the snow actually came right up to the edge of the road.  Lynn and I both took pictures to verify this.  It was very, very scenic with high mountains, red rock formations, evergreen trees scattered around and white snow covering it all.

We got to Richfield at 6:00 and checked in at the Fairfield Inn.  Lynn had already found us a place for dinner—an ice cream dinner.  We ate ice cream at Ideal Dairy not far from our hotel.  It was good ice cream.  We talked to the girl who served us who was obviously a high school student.  She said that in Utah masks were optional for students and teachers.  We told her how in Virginia this wasn’t the case—masks are mandatory for everyone, vaccinated or not. 

We returned back to the hotel and checked into bed early.  Well, I got to bed around 8:30 which would have been 10:30 in Virginia.  Lynn was fast asleep by that time.

I’m not going to fool with COVID-19 updates on this trip.  I’ll get everything up-to-date when we get back home.

October 13, 2021

What a full day!  We began the day before dawn and ended the day at dusk in Canyonlands National Park.  The day started with a combination of two breakfasts:  one at McDonald’s in Richfield (this is Educator week so McDonald’s is giving free breakfasts) and one at the Fairfield Inn.  Together we both got plenty to eat before heading out for Capitol Reef, around 90 minutes away. 

Between Richfield and Capitol Reef was a stretch of the Rocky Mountains.  This meant snow!  Fortunately the roads were OK but there was plenty of snow all around.  The temperature was 19o at times.  But the drive was very, very pretty as the white snow matched with the green bushes and the red rock formations. 

Much, much of Utah is barren.  There is little vegetation, no animal life, no human life, no stores, just good roads.  The roads are straight and in excellent condition. 

Our plan was to spend most of the morning at Capitol Reef then drive the 2 ½ hour drive to Canyonlands and spend the rest of the day there.  We ended up spending a little more time at Capitol Reef, mostly due to the fact that we took a hike to one of its most scenic areas, a rock bridge, the Hickman Bridge, which involved a rather tough hike that was listed as only one mile long but I’m sure it was much longer.  When we got back to the car we had walked over 7,000 steps.  (We ended the day with much more than 10,000 each).

Before that, we had stopped at the Visitor Center and gotten some very good advice.  We were told that we could drive all along the scenic drive, a 12 mile drive into Capitol Reef.  There were numerous places to stop and take photos.  For this park, most of your looking and photos are taken looking upward.  (Canyonlands is the opposite; most are taken looking down).

The drive to Canyonlands took a full 2 ½ hours.  Plus, we stopped for lunch at the Tamerisk Restaurant in a town between the two parks.  We didn’t get to Canyonlands until around 3:30.

Fortunately, the rangers there gave us some excellent advice on how to spend the rest of the day there.  They said to drive along its highway to Grand View Point, stopping at the vistas along the way to take pictures.  Then, work our way back by stopping at the Mesa Arch, which involved a two mile hike, and end up at the Green River overlook.  We did just that.  The scenery was awesome.  I don’t think my pictures could possibly represent the beauty.  Not only did I take around 170 photos but Lynn also took around 80 herself, all of which I uploaded to my Flickr account. 

We left Canyonlands right at sundown.  It was a 40 minute drive to Moab.  Our first stop was at an ice cream store we had found online.  But it was closed!  Fortunately, right beside it was a restaurant which had take-out ice cream which was actually very good.  Lynn got a milkshake and I had a cone.

We then checked in at the Comfort Suites.  This time we are staying on points which is saving us almost $300.  The room at the Moab Comfort Suites was as nice as any hotel we’ve stayed it in ages.

Exausted again, Lynn fell asleep before I could even get out of the shower.  Tomorrow is another full day.  Our plan is to spend it at Arches National Park, probably the prettiest of all the parks we’re seeing on this trip.  But we’ve read that the park fills up quickly and some people are forced to wait hours just to get in.  So we want to get there well before 8:00 AM.

October 14, 2021

We saved the best national park on our trip for the last.  Arches National Park has many more photographic spots and annual visitations than Capitol Reef and Canyonlands.  So we dedicated all day today, Thursday, to Arches.

This meant arriving there by 7:00 because we had heard that sometimes the park is so crowded they stop letting people in.  Several websites said to be there before 8:00 and we certainly were.  The sun was just starting to rise as we passed through the entrance station (using our lifetime national parks pass—something which has saved us tons of money through the years).  The Visitor Center didn’t open until 8:00 but, fortunately, I had found a website which listed the 16 top things to do at Arches.  We ended up doing most of them. 

All three national parks have a center highway with side roads leading to attractions an many pull-off places for photos.  The road at Arches was nineteen miles long with the visitor center at the very beginning.  But since it wasn’t open we drove to a place that had three arches:  North Window, South Window, and Turret.  We walked and took pictures at each of these, then drove to a tall structure called Balanced Rock.  By that time, it was after 8:00 so we returned to the Visitor Center.

At the Visitor Center, Lynn got a second walking stick.  I had bought one for her at Canyonlands which she really liked.  But she wanted a second one so she got a matching one at the Arches Visitor Center. 

There are over 2,000 arches in Arches National Park so, of course, we only saw a small subset of them.  We did get to all of the main ones and, in so doing, walked over 16,000 steps.  We were in the park for seven hours in all.

The weather was great again though a little chilly.  We have been so lucky in the weather during all of our travels.  This park wouldn’t be much fun to visit in a driving rainstorm.  But we had sun a-plenty.  And, perhaps due to the weather and the time of year, the park wasn’t overly crowded.  We were able to park at every overlook and vista we stopped at. 

Arches has more than arch formations.  There are lots of buttes and enormous rock structures reaching for the sky.  We particularly liked Park Avenue, Double Arch, Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, Garden of Eden, Pine Tree Arch, Broken Arch, Sand Dune Arch, and the largest arch in the park, Landscape Arch.  My pictures of all of these capture some, but not all, of their beauty.  The pictures I like best are ones that have the snow capped mountains in the background.  Together, Lynn and I took over 250 pictures.

Around 2:00 we had seen our last arch and were at the very end of the 19 mile road at a point called Devils Garden.  We decided to eat a late lunch in Moab then head back to Salt Lake City.

We had heard about a diner in Moab, Moab Diner, and picked that for lunch.  It was a good choice.  We each had hamburgers plus their “Sweetwater Potatoes.” 

The drive back to Salt Lake City was a long one, around four hours long.   The roads in Utah are superb.  The interstates have plenty of lanes with 80 mph speed limits.  The state roads usually have four lanes, all straight as an arrow with 65 mph speed limits.  Our drive back took us across a mountain range where the temperature dropped to 31o and we had some blowing snow though the roads were fine. 

About an hour from Salt Lake City, we were both a little hungry and found online an ice cream store in Provo called Penguin Ice Cream.  It was a very good choice.  We were the only customers in the store and the two young men who were there were very talkative.  We talked with them about mask wearing, vaccinations, and the fact that Provo, with Brigham Young University, had no bars. 

We got to our hotel around 8:00, worn out from a long day of walking and driving.  We both agreed that we had planned our visits to these three parks well and delighted that everything, including the weather, had gone so well.  We are so blessed!

October 15, 2021

Our final full day in Utah!  Our final full day in Utah!  We did our familiar breakfast routine whereby we got the free breakfast from a nearby McDonalds for Lynn thanks to her educator status, and combined it with the breakfast at the Comfort Suites.  The McDonalds breakfast got Lynn her sweet tea and she gave me the sausage biscuit.  We shared the hash browns. 

Lynn came up with an idea of taking a City Tours tour of Salt Lake City.  It proved to be a fine idea.  We had to meet the tour at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City but that was easy to find.  In fact, we found free on-street parking just a few blocks away.

The tour’s bus driver was delightful.  He was knowledgeable and humorous.  He took us to several highlights of Salt Lake City beginning with its iconic train station, known for where the golden spike was driven uniting the railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  From there we drove past several well-known homes on to the state capitol building.  We had several minutes inside the capitol to explore and take pictures.  Notable here was a statute to the first female Senator in the US, Martha Hughes Cannon, who won the election by defeating her husband the other ticket.  We also learned how the beehive came to be the symbol for Utah after Brigham Young had ventured into the area and chose that symbol.  There were two lion statutes outside the building—the driver joked that one was a Republican and the other a Democrat because they are both known to always be  “lion.”

From there we went to a Catholic church, Cathedral of the Madelene, which had spectactular stained glass windows and even an immersion font, unusual for the Catholic Church.  Then we drove to a Pioneer Center named This is the Place.  But the best part of the tour was what came next:  we went to the Mormon Tabernacle for the noon organ recital.  We only made it there for a couple of songs but it was fantastic. 

Temple Square has three main buildings:  the Tabernacle where the famous choir presents concerts and the daily organ recitals are held, Assembly Hall which is a beautiful Church of the Latter Day Saints, and the Temple which is off-limits to the public now as it is going through a major renovation to make it earthquake safe. 

After the tour was over, we drove to a pizza store which was highly recommended to us, Settebello.  This restaurant reminded us to much of Italy.  It had a wood fired grill and had an adjoining gelato store.  We had a magnificent pizza there with olives, prosciutto, and artichokes.  We also had an appetizer with dates.  It was a great meal.

From there, we walked to the City Center in Salt Lake City.  Salt Lake City is a very safe city to walk in.  Lynn found a jewelry store, Kendra Scott, which had a beehive ornament for her Pandora travel bracelet.  We then decided to walk back to Temple Square where young Mormons were giving tours of the Square as part of their missionary work.

Our two tour guides were young girls, both from Texas.  One was bilingual which was good because part of our small tour group was Hispanic.  Their tour included another stop for us at both the Assembly Hall and the Tabernacle.  It was obvious that both girls were very committed to the Mormon Church. 

After that, we walked back to our car and headed for Antelope Island in the midst of the Great Salt Lake.  This journey took us around an hour and we didn’t get there until almost 5:00.  We had hoped to go to the Visitor Center but it turned out they closed at 4:00.  This part of our trip was the only disappointing part.  For one thing, the Great Salt Lake wasn’t so great.  It is stunning how much the lake has shrunk.  There were beaches on Antelope Island but by now the water was hundreds of yards from the beach houses.  Much of the lake had dried up.  We spent little time there because there was little to do.  We did get to see some bison which roam on the island and I got some great pictures of the Rocky Mountains over part of the water with their reflection in the lake.

We ended our day by driving to a creamery not too far from our hotel, Leatherby’s Family Creamery.  It was a busy place.  As usual, Lynn got a milkshake and I got a couple scoops of ice cream.  On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Costco where I filled the rental car up with gas and Lynn bought some treats with a Utah connection.

We got back to our hotel around 8:00 and were in bed not long afterwards.  This would likely be our last night in Utah ever.

October 16, 2021

We were up shortly after 5:00 AM but this was Mountain time so I guess our bodies were anxious to get back on Eastern time.  We had breakfast at the Comfort Suites then left shortly after 7:00 for the airport since we had to turn the rental car in and make our way through security on to our gate for the departure.  Having our TSA Pre-check clearance helped us avoid the long lines at the security gates at the airport.

The rental car, a Nissan Altima, had done well for us.  We ended up riding in it almost 1,000 miles on this trip.  The rental was expensive but worth it.

Our flight home did not go as planned.  We flew from Salt Lake City to Dallas/Fort Worth then were supposed to fly to Charlotte and were scheduled to then fly to Charlottesville on the last flight of the night from Charlotte to Charlottesville.  Our initial flight left at 10:00 AM and the arrival was scheduled in Charlottesville in 9:37 PM.  The flight from Salt Lake City to Dallas was on time and smooth.  But no sooner than we arrived at the gate in Dallas for the next flight from Dallas to Charlotte we found out that it had been delayed by 45 minutes, leaving at 4:15 instead of 3:27.  That made it arriving in Charlotte at 7:45 instead 7:06.  The issue was that our flight from Charlotte to Charlottesville was scheduled to leave at 8:25.  I got a text from American Airlines saying “Due to a delay, you may miss your connecting flight to CHO.”   Later we had more delays and didn’t actually leave Dallas until around 5:00.  Plus, we were seated in the 30th row which we knew would slow us in getting to the next flight even more.  We were pretty well convinced that we wouldn’t catch the flight from Charlotte to Charlottesville.  The agent in Charlotte told us there would be an agent in Charlotte who would assist us in getting a place to stay.

The flight from Dallas landed in Charlotte around 8:05.  It took us until 8:15 to get off the plane.  Knowing that the airlines close the entry doors well before takeoff time, we were even more pessimistic about making it home tonight.  Worse, the Dallas plane landed at gate B3 and we had to get to gate E6 for the Charlottesville flight.  These gates were quite distant. 

Nonetheless, we hustled, nudging past people who were riding on the horizontal walkways and walking in a much faster pace than we do in 5K walks.  I can’t speak for Lynn but I was definitely out of breath as we rounded the corner in view of gate E6.  The agent was there holding the door for us with new boarding passes for us in her hand!  We were the last two on the plane and were quickly whisked down the walkway and up the steps onto the airplane.  Someone took our suitcases so we wouldn’t have to worry about them.  We had made it!  We were on the plane by 8:30 and it immediately pulled out.

So this trip had it all…scenery, new places to visit, snow, good food, and now excitement!  Thinking back on all the trips we’ve taken, we have had extraordinary good luck with flights, weather, and itineraries on nearly all of them.  We’ve traveled now to 49 states (all except Hawaii) and 7 foreign countries (Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Spain, Peru, and Italy).  Travel has always made me appreciate our world more and appreciate my home more.  Lynn is a superb traveling companion.  If anything, we get along better when we travel than we do at home. 

We’ve had two really good domestic trips in the past two months, Oregon and Utah.  I hope we can continue to do vacations like these.  Who knows where we’ll go next?  I am very thankful that we have the health and wealth to be able to make these trips.  And I’m especially thankful to Ann and Josh’s family for accommodating us since we normally help them out more when we’re in Mount Sidney.

The suspense and elation for the last flight from Charlotte to Charlottesville was a fitting end for this trip.  In short, we made it.

The flight to Charlottesville went quickly.  Soon we were on I-64 coming back home.  We were a little hungry so we stopped at the Cook Out in Waynesboro for 99¢ milkshakes.  We got home around 11:30 feeling very good about the past five days.

October 17, 2021

Back to Eastern time and the normal routine!  We both slept in after getting to bed so late last night.  But we both had busy mornings.  Lynn washed several loads of clothes and I did the Zoom Sunday School plus played the piano for it, then picked Betsy up so both of us could do bell choir rehearsal at 10:15 prior to performing at the 11:00 service.  It was my first time playing the bells in over a year and Betsy’s first time ever.  But the prelude the choir (seven of us) played sounded good.

This afternoon, I helped fix some apples for our dinner tonight then did lots of picture work with the 700 photos I took in Utah.  I had to back them up on my external hard drive, copy them to the downstairs Mac, upload them to the Photos app on that computer, then pick out 50 of the 700 as favorites to include in my 2021 Favorite folder. 

The Gutshalls didn’t come over until around 6:00 since Betsy had play practice from 3:00 – 6:00 in Waynesboro.  She is one busy gal!  We had a good supper, thanks to Lynn and chili from Central UMC.  Lynn fixed stuffed mushrooms, quesadillas, and the apples.

We talked to all three children today.  Before the Gutshalls came over Kay called and after we had finished eating Jim called.  It is always good to hear their voices.

I have a busy day tomorrow.  I’ll go to Central and start some my treasurer’s work before Sam Richardson comes to count.  Then we’ll do the count and deposit from today’s service.  I know I’ll have some bills to pay and some data to update regarding our investment accounts.  After that, I have an ultrasound at Augusta Health for my kidneys.  Freddie’s bus comes here at 3:15 then Henry is going to come over for some calculus work.

I haven’t entered COVID-19 data since we left for Utah so I’m going to post today’s numbers here.  The Virginia cases won’t be accurate since this is a weekend and they don’t update them on weekends.  A CNN article I read today told how the number of cases throughout America is down now.

October 17           Infected                   Died

World             241,456,031           4,913,948

US                     45,792,532              744,546   10,000 more deaths since Oct. 11                   

Virginia                 902,938                13,391  

Augusta County         9,884                     114  

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,094,629  (5,288,223 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        80,930 (39,044 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  Nationwide, around 57% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

October 18, 2021

I had a lot of catch-up to do on my treasurer’s duties at Central since we were away nearly all last week.  I worked there from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM.  I reconciled a credit card, entered the deposit from last week (since I wasn’t here when they counted), paid four bills, counted yesterday’s offering with Sam Richardson, made that deposit, got the mail, helped Janet withdraw some money from her personal annuity, and entered data for the third quarter from two of our investment accounts.  You’d think that would be all I needed to do but I ran out of time before I could set up the payroll for the October 31 pay date and pay the associated insurance bills associated with it.  I’ll likely do those tomorrow.

I ran out of time because I had a 1:30 appointment for an ultrasound.  I got to Augusta Health a few minutes early and didn’t have to wait long before I was taken back.  The ultrasound was nothing compared to the MRI.  For the MRI I had to lie perfectly still for around 45 minutes inside a capsule.  For the ultrasound, a technician merely had me lift my shirt while she made numerous pictures using an instrument which she rolled around my bladder and two kidneys.  I tried to see if she would give me an indication about what she found but she wouldn’t.  She did ask me at one point if I ever had kidney stones which I have not.  She said it would take 2 – 3 days to get back the results.

I was home in plenty of time for Freddie’s bus but it turned out I didn’t have to be there because Lynn was also home.  Before his bus came, Henry and Gus pulled up so I could help Henry with a few calculus problems he had.  It didn’t take us long to get them done and then all three boys went home.

Lynn had been cooking a lot during the day including a chicken pot pie meal she made for our dinner.  It was delicious and there is plenty for the next few days.  We also had some leftover stuffed mushrooms and applesauce.  We ate quickly because we wanted to get food from Central for both Elizabeth’s family and Juan Pablo.  Elizabeth had texted Lynn that she would be at home until 6:15 so we had to hustle.

We went to Central and filled two boxes for each of the families.  Then we spent a good bit of time on the road as we drove to Mount Solon to take Elizabeth’s food to her family then drove to Waynesboro to take Juan Pablo’s.  We then got the 99¢ milkshakes from Cook Out and came home.  It was a busy day for both of us!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

October 18           Infected                   Died

World             241,838,567           4,919,388

US                     45,881,767              745,740   1,200 deaths since yesterday               

Virginia                 907,882                13,486  

Augusta County         9,964                     118   4 deaths since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,107,332  (5,292,282 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        80,974 (39,063 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 19, 2021

Today was another day for me to do catch-up work as Central’s treasurer.  This morning I set up the payroll for October 31 and paid several “payroll liabilities.”  Payroll liabilities are essentially bills that are paid on behalf of someone who works for you and is entitled to have it paid for them.  For example, federal and state taxes are payroll liabilities.  Today I paid the quarterly Virginia income tax.  I had paid the federal tax last week.  Later I paid the monthly bill for the pastor’s health insurance and retirement which are also payroll liabilities. 

When I came home I cut all of the grass.  Lynn was having her two Cheryl friends over during this time.  I tried to keep my mower away from them as much as possible but they ended up abandoning the pergola for the back porch because of my noise. 

I wanted to get all of these things behind me before my appointment this afternoon with Dr. LaGrua.  He wanted to go back over my blood test results with me, some of which were not in the normal ranges, and he had to remove the stitch he had put in my nose when he did the biopsy on it.  He had four more vials of blood drawn from me today to do additional tests.  The results should be back in a couple of days.

I got through just in time to pick up Freddie at school and bring him here.  He and I played a game of “PIG” on the basketball court which he won, as usual.  Then Ann came and picked him up along with a casserole Lynn had made. 

Lynn and I then headed for Harrisonburg where we made multiple stops.  Our first was at El Sol since today was Taco Tuesday.  We tried to limit the amount we ate there because we had plans for dessert later.  She only ate two of the small tacos.  I had four.  She and I split chips and guacamole. 

Then we went to Aldi and Kroger for some groceries then to Costco for gas and a few items.  I had a list of things to get for Janet, the custodian at Central.  After all of our shopping was done we drove to Smiley’s.  Today was the last day for Smiley’s in this location; they will be closed tomorrow then re-open on Thursday at the new location about ½ mile from their current one.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we visit the new store Thursday evening.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 19           Infected                   Died

World             242,306,769           4,928,239

US                     45,996,273              748,674   2,900 deaths since yesterday               

Virginia                 909,499                13,538   52 deaths since yesterday       

Augusta County         9,970                     118   Only six new cases – good!

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,126,822  (5,297,364 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 81.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        81,065 (39,094 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.7% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  That is just inexcusable.

October 20, 2021

CNN reported today that vaccine advisers to the FDA are scheduled to meet next week to consider Pfizer’s request to authorize its vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.  And in a related article, the White House unveiled its plans to roll out the vaccines for these children pending US Food and Drug Administration authorization.  The Biden administration has secured enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the 28 million children ages 5 to 11 who would become eligible for vaccination if the vaccine is authorized for that age group and will help equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of community health centers and rural health clinics as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots, according to the White House.

Today I spent a few hours working on a project for my sister.  I first looked through pictures that I have of her and her family over the past few years including Thanksgivings, Lancaster vacations, her 50th anniversary, Vic’s wedding this past summer in Maine, and a few others.  I selected twelve pictures that represented all of her family and ones that were decent photos.  I first tried to use a program called Motif to put the twelve pictures together so they could be printed and framed but I eventually gave up on it and, as I have done with the homemade birthday cards I’ve made, I used MS Word to create an 8.5 x 11 picture collage with the twelve pictures on it.  Initially I thought I’d take it to Staples to get it printed but then I remembered what good quality our own printer does with the cards I’ve made so I printed it here.

The result, printed on card stock, looked good so then I started looking for picture frames in the basement.  We have a LOT of frames shelved away and I found an 8 x 10 frame.  The issue is that the one I printed was a little too large for the frame since it was 8.5 x 11.  So then I came back and resized some of the pictures to get it down to 8 x 10.  I printed it again and put it in the frame.  It was OK but I still wasn’t 100% satisfied.  Then I had another idea:  I’d go to Walmart and buy one of the document frames they sell there specifically for 8.5 x 11 documents. 

When I got to Walmart and found a nice frame I had another idea.  I looked in the office section there and found a package of photo paper with a glossy side.  So then I came home, printed it again, this time on photo paper, and inserted it into the new frame I’d bought.  Voila!  I like the result and will be happy to give this to Mary Katherine as a combination birthday and house warming gift since she has moved to a new house.

This afternoon all of the Gutshall kids came to our house.  Henry and Gus came because Henry wanted to do another set of math problems and Gus always rides with Henry from school.  Betsy rode the bus with Freddie.  I really like working the Calculus problems with Henry.  He does well so I’m not just working the problems for him.  I work them alongside him.

I haven’t been forthcoming in something that has been bothering me a lot so here it is.  Within the past month I have had a MRI to find if there are issues with my prostate, an ultrasound to check my kidneys and bladder, and two visits to my doctor, one of which was my annual physical.  The MRI results were that indeed I have a very enlarged prostate and a very, very small lesion which is basically too small to identify as malignant or benign.  The other issue is that my blood tests have not come back as they should have.  I have had lots of blood tests done this past month.  On all of them, the results show that something is not right.  My red blood cells are not carrying enough oxygen to the rest of my body.  I have seen the word anemia several times in reading the results (all of the test results show up on MyChart, a Carillion site, which I have access to).  And the anemia points to something else going on in my body which is not right.  Kidney issues are likely as the blood tests which measure kidney function are not in the normal range.  Perhaps my large prostate is affecting my kidney functions.  Perhaps I have kidney stones.  Perhaps I have something more serious.  I’m not sure yet and, of course, I worry.  I’ve used this blog to be a pressure-releaser throughout the COVID-19 pandemic so tonight I’m using it to do the same for my current medical condition.

I do not have lots of symptoms.  I generally have no pain and do what I want to do.  I plan to play tennis tomorrow morning.  The more I read about possible causes the more I begin to feel strange things in my body but I suspect all of those are psychosomatic.  I do not have the results yet from the ultrasound.  The technician said I should have them by Thursday or Friday.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 20           Infected                   Died

World             242,731,123           4,936,239

US                     46,059,004              751,328   2,700 deaths since yesterday               

Virginia                 911,321                13,585   47 deaths since yesterday       

Augusta County       10,019                     118   48 new cases since yesterday.  Yuck!

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,153,011  (5,303,626 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        81,336 (39,150 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.8% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 21, 2021

I’m really puzzled about the blood tests I referred to yesterday.  I feel fine.  Today I played 1 ¾ hours of tennis and actually played better than I usually do.  How could I do that if I have anemia?  It doesn’t make sense to me.  I’m anxiously awaiting the results of the ultrasound.

After playing tennis, I came home and made a run to the trash dump with a stop at the Gutshall’s house to get theirs.  I had a full truck load.  It was good that I went today because we’ll be in Altoona tomorrow and when we get back on Saturday I’ll have a busy schedule with Jim and his boys going to the Overlook Produce corn maze along with Ann’s family.

My afternoon was boring except that at about 4:00 Ann texted about that she hadn’t heard from Betsy.  Lynn and I didn’t have it on our calendar that we were supposed to take her to dance today which started at 4:30.  Quickly I called Betsy and asked her to ask Henry to bring her to Mt. Pisgah UMC where I’d meet them and take her on to dance.  I was scheduled to pick up Freddie at Clymore at 4:45 but Lynn said she could get him.  Henry and Betsy came to Mt. Pisgah around 4:20 and we made it to her dance just a minute or so late.   Lynn went to Clymore Elementary School to pick up Freddie.  Ann had a faculty meeting after school and couldn’t make it in time.  Josh came by soon thereafter to get him since he had soccer practice tonight.  So everything worked out even though it was a little frantic at times.

Tonight, Lynn and I ate dinner at home consisting of country ham sandwiches we purchased from Henry as a fundraiser for the FDHS basketball team.  Lynn also made both sweet potato fries and regular fries in her new air fryer.  Then we went to Dollar Tree and Walmart in Dayton before stopping by the new Smiley’s ice cream store outside of Bridgewater for ice cream.  Today was their first day at the new location.  Their ice cream tasted just as good here as it did at the previous location.  Yum!

Tomorrow Lynn and I are leaving early for Altoona.  We plan to get there around noon and catch lunch with Mary Katherine.  By mid to late afternoon, Butch and Jackie are set to arrive so we can celebrate Mary K.’s 76th birthday plus her new home.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 21           Infected                   Died

World             243,240,329           4,944,687

US                     46,172,984              753,737   2,400 deaths since yesterday              

Virginia                 913,100                13,624   39 deaths since yesterday       

Augusta County       10,041                     121   3 new deaths since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,178,237  (5,308,944 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.2% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        81,436 (39,180 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.9% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 22, 2021

Today was our day to visit Mary Katherine in Altoona.  We left home before 8:00 AM and with a stop for gasoline, a couple of stops for bathroom breaks, and one at a Jo Ann Fabric for Lynn, we were at the Comfort Suites in Altoona around 12:30.  We had called Mary K. on the way and made arrangements for her to call in a lunch order at an Italian restaurant which we picked up on our way to her house.

Her new house seems like a good fit for her.  It is primarily a one story home with her bedroom on the same level as the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.  It does have a very large basement and she even has one of those lift chairs for the stairway leading to it.  She should be set in that home for years.  She is partially unpacked though the process will undoubtedly take weeks more.  I can’t imagine how much work it took to get her to this point.  Her daughter Kit and son Joseph said they worked eight consecutive weekends cleaning out the old house.

We had a good lunch at her house and helped her with a few minor details of getting the house ready for Butch and Jackie’s visit.  They got there around 5:00.  Almost simultaneously, Kit and her two children, Leo and Nora, also came.  These three couldn’t stay long, though, due to homecoming activities at their school.

The five of us had a good dinner.  Mary K. was very talkative, as usual, but we all got along well, I felt, and did some planning for our Thanksgiving which will be in Athens, OH this year.

After dinner nephew Joseph stopped in.  We had a good visit with him and got caught up on his four children.  Daughter Bailey is applying for dental schools for this fall and just had her gall bladder removed yesterday.  She is doing well.  Daughter Jordan is in law school, son Brennan is at Penn State, and daughter Paxton is a freshman at the local Catholic high school, Bishop Guilfoyle.  That’s the same school that their cousins Nora and Leo attend.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 22           Infected                   Died

World             243,729,114           4,953,327

US                     46,262,337              755,647   1,900 deaths since yesterday              

Virginia                 914,755                13,668   44 deaths since yesterday       

Augusta County       10,070                     121   Only 29 new cases since yesterday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,199,426  (5,314,170 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        81,609 (39,204 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 51.9% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 23, 2021

What a long Saturday!  We both were up shortly after 5:00 AM this morning and on the way home by 6:00 AM.  We wanted to make sure we were home in time for Freddie’s 11:20 soccer game.  Actually, with light traffic and no road issues, we made it home by 9:40.  We only had one stop for gas/bathroom on the way.

We actually had time to go to Waynesboro before his soccer game so Lynn could get some Halloween kits for the kids at Michael’s.  We were back to VSDB by 11:00.

We sure picked a good day to see Freddie play soccer.  Before halftime, he had a hat trick.  He also had a really nice pass to assist a teammate in scoring.  Freddie doesn’t outrun everyone on the field but he controls the ball very well and his shots were amazingly accurate.  He was 3 – 3 on shots on goal past the goalie in the half.  He ended up scoring 5 of the 7 goals his team scored.  They won 7 – 1. 

During his game, Jim Faron, and Coen arrived.  So as soon as soccer was over we headed home so the kids could play outside while Ann picked up some groceries and pizza for lunch.  It was a beautiful day for the kids to play outdoors. 

Soon Ann came with the pizza and we had a fine lunch.  There were 11 of us.  We were able to eat outside.  After lunch, we loaded everyone up and headed for the corn maze at Overlook Produce near Bridgewater.

This was a good activity for us.  All the kids enjoyed it, from Henry at age 16 to Coen at age 4.  The reward for finishing the maze was that each of us got an apple cider donut.  But that wasn’t the only treat for us; we moved from Overlook Produce to Smiley’s for ice cream.

We thought the plan was for Jim to then take the boys back to Roanoke.  But it turns out that both and boys and Morgan expected them to spend them to spend the night with us.  Lynn and I were delighted with this.  In order to make it work, Jim had to take them to Target to get some pajamas and toothbrushes.  Plus he got each of them a toy.  For example, he got Coen a Hot Wheels track which had to be put together.  We got it put together after they got back here. 

Jim gave the boys a bath.  By that time, the WVU – TCU football game was on tv.  I was very tired from getting up so early but I had to watch my Mounties.  They played TCU back and forth in the first half and led 20 – 17 at the break.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 23           Infected                   Died

World             244,087,529           4,958,943

US                     46,294,210              756,205   600 deaths since yesterday                 

Virginia                 914,755                13,668   Data not updated due to weekend      

Augusta County       10,070                     121   Data not updated due to weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,228,950  (5,320,739 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        82,001 (39,285 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.0% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 24, 2021

This was anything but a typical Sunday for us.  We were here but didn’t attend Sunday School or Church since we had Jim, Coen, and Faron with us.  We didn’t have Ann’s family over for Sunday night dinner because we went to a play with John and Ginny Bauman in Winchester. 

Although I wish I had been able to take part in Central’s activities today, it was good to see Faron and Coen along with Jim.  Both boys are at a very cute age.  They love to play hide-and-seek in our house so, of course, I have to do that with them.  We end up hiding in all the same places but somehow it is still fun for them.  And me…

They left before 11:00 for Roanoke.  Lynn and I then got ready for the show we had tickets for at Shenandoah University, Bright Star.  Ginny and John came here at 12:15 so we got on the road early for the 2:30 matinee.  It’s a good thing we did because, to no one’s surprise, we ran into a traffic delay due to an accident on I-81 though we still got there around 2:00.

The four of us had seen Bright Star at the Barter Theatre.  It is a musical written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell.  Knowing that the roles would be played by college students, I guess I had a lower expectation of the quality of show we’d see today.  I was dead wrong.  The actors and actresses at Shenandoah University were superb.  Their voices were great.  The choreography and casting were excellent.  This was the last performance and you could tell how much of their hearts these young performers put into the show.  I loved every minute of it.  So did Lynn.

The show has an unusual but happy ending after some intense moments earlier in the play.  I highly recommend it especially if the performers are as talented as those we watched today.  This was the best afternoon I’ve spent in ages.

On our way back, we stopped at Sal’s Bistro in Edinburg for dinner.  Lynn and I got what we usually get when we eat there—lasagna.  We weren’t disappointed and brought home enough for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Tomorrow will be a busy day for me.  I’ll have Central treasurer’s duties all morning long.  I have an appointment at the dermatologist to have a skin cancer removed on my nose in the early afternoon.  Then we’ll have Freddie’s bus to meet and Betsy to take to dance after school.

Here are today’s COVID-19 stats:

October 24           Infected                   Died

World             244,409,806           4,963,504

US                     46,312,782              756,362   Low counts due to weekend?             

Virginia                 914,755                13,668   Data not updated due to weekend      

Augusta County       10,070                     121   Data not updated due to weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,248,991  (5,324,523 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.4% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        82,075 (39,310 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.0% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

October 25, 2021

Today was a day I’d like to forget.  I had a very tough night overnight with chills, fever, and acid reflux, probably all coming from the lasagna I had at Sal’s.  I slept miserably and spent most of the entire day today either in bed or sitting. 

I called Sam Richardson and postponed our counting at Central until Wednesday.  I postponed my dermatology appointment until Friday morning.  And because today was an Augusta County Schools teacher workday and Josh took the day off from work, I didn’t have to meet Freddie’s bus or take Betsy to dance. 

Here’s a statistic that shows how much today was worthless for me:  I got a grand total of 676 steps all day.  Beginning in the middle of the night and lasting nearly all morning, I had no energy to move and got dizzy when I tried to.  I did a little better this afternoon but still spent much time nodding off.  I think my body just needed a day off.  I certainly hope tomorrow is a better day.  I’ve already bailed out of tennis on Tuesday morning.

To prevent the chills tonight, I bundled up in long pajamas and even socks.  I wanted to put them on in the middle of the night but just didn’t have the energy to do so.

My total food intake today was a roll Lynn heated up for me at breakfast and a can of chicken noodle soup I ate for dinner. 

Sorry but I have very little to write because I did basically nothing all day.  Lynn made up for my inactivity by doing many things including getting food for the two Hispanic families we help out, washing clothes, walking with her friend Pat, and starting on a craft project tonight.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics.  BTW,  the CDC is getting closer to approving vaccines for 5 to 11 year olds.  Perhaps by next week they’ll be able to.  Betsy gets her second shot tomorrow.

October 25           Infected                   Died

World             244,765,314           4,969,070

US                     46,386,592              757,252   900 new deaths          

Virginia                 918,700                13,745   4,000 new cases; 77 new deaths                     

Augusta County       10,116                     122   46 new cases; 1 new death

            Vaccinated [DATA NOT UPDATED]

Virginia          11,248,991  (5,324,523 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.4% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        82,075 (39,310 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.0% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 26, 2021

Today I felt a little better than yesterday but still was lethargic most of the day.  I did not have a fever today though I did have some chills, especially in the afternoon when the cold winds blew.

I did manage to get a few things done today though none were that significant.  This morning, I cleaned out my clothes closet, replacing my summer clothes (shorts, short sleeve shirts) with winter clothes (sweaters, long sleeve shirts).

My activity picked up in the afternoon.  I led a Zoom meeting of the Central finance meeting at 2:00.  At 3:40 I went to Ann’s house to get Betsy to take her to her dance class.  Then I hurried back home to meet Henry to work some more calculus problems though he didn’t come until 5:00.  His problems were fairly easy and we got them all done in much less than an hour.

Then, Lynn and I ate dinner.  She had brought home some chicken from Costco and fixed some frozen French fries in her new air fryer. 

At 7:00 I had the monthly Central Council Meeting.  As always, I took minutes and distributed them as soon as the meeting was adjourned.

I still did not feel like moving a lot today.  I was not only energy-less, but my muscles ached, perhaps from spending so much time in bed.  I went to bed at 8:00 PM last night and didn’t get up until 7:00 AM today.  I did get over twice as many steps recorded today as yesterday but still much less than my normal daily count.

Good news from the FDA today that they recommend that children ages 5 – 11 get vaccinated against COVID-19.  All that is lacking is for CDC approval which should come next week/

Butch texted today that he is rapidly making plans for Thanksgiving in Athens OH this year.  He’s reserved rooms for everyone at the Ohio U Inn which is also where the dinner will be.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 26           Infected                   Died

World             245,256,304           4,978,191

US                     46,497,603              759,930   2,700 new deaths       

Virginia                 919,999                13,793   1,300 new cases; 78 new deaths                     

Augusta County       10,130                     124   14 new cases; 2 new deaths

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,299,720  (5,334,652 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.5% of the total population fully vaccinated)          I expect these numbers to grow when kids 5 – 11 are allowed to be vaccinated.

            Augusta County        82,190 (39,338 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Betsy has had her first shot.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 27, 2021

Boy, will I be glad when November 2 gets here and the fall elections are behind us.  I get no less than 25 e-mails every day from Terry McAuliffe, James Carville, the Virginia Democratic Party, and countless others all asking for money.  I’ve voted already.  I voted for McAuliffe.  So did Lynn.  But I have no plans to send money to him.  I believe the issue with his campaign is not lack of money, it is that he has not done a good enough job of tying Glenn Youngkin to Donald Trump.  Surely, if all Virginia voters knew that Youngkin means Trumpkin they would vote for McAuliffe. 

And I’m mighty darned mad at Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema for tanking Biden’s agenda.  His original economic and climate package has been reduced to nothing thanks to these two.  They’re even reluctant to go for taxing the billionaires who are currently paying a lower tax rate than I am.  Paid family and medical leave have been cut from the package.   Also axed was free community college tuition.  Including dental, vision, and hearing in Medicare will also likely go by the wayside.  All of this is due to these two self-centered Senators. 

Meanwhile we’ve got Donald Trump suing to stop documents from being released related to the January 6 riot.  If he’s got nothing to hide, why is he fighting the release of these documents and demanding his buddies ignore the subpoenas they’ve received to testify?  We’ve still got a majority of Republicans believing the election was rigged.  What a world we live in!

I’m still not 100% well.  I tire easily though I did manage to go to Central today and do about three hours of treasurer’s work.  I am definitely better than I was on Monday but I still got Darrell Miller to sub for me in my tennis foursome tomorrow morning.  I just don’t feel like I’d have the energy to play well at all.  I don’t have any major pains but just can tell something isn’t quite right.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

This afternoon, we had Betsy and Freddie after school.  Freddie and I played Wii-U for a while where he proceeded to destroy me in every game we played.  I just cannot catch on to those games.

Lynn made rolls today and we took some to the Gutshalls.  Her sourdough rolls are really good.

Neither one of us felt like doing anything significant tonight so we just stayed at home.  Lynn was supposed to have helped Juan Pablo in Waynesboro this afternoon but he bailed on her, as he usually does.

Betsy got her second vaccination yesterday.  Yippee!  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 27           Infected                   Died

World             245,741,665           4,987,031

US                     46,581,750              761,704   1,800 new deaths       

Virginia                 921,630                13,827   1,600 new cases; 34 new deaths                     

Augusta County       10,141                     125   21 new cases; 1 new death

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,350,711  (5,340,950 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)          I expect these numbers to grow when kids 5 – 11 are allowed to be vaccinated possibly starting next week.

            Augusta County        82,362 (39,366 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 28, 2021

Today was one of the most boring days I have experienced as an adult.  I didn’t feel well enough to play tennis this morning, so I had made arrangements with Darrell Miller to sub for me.  But I didn’t find a suitable replacement for my attention during that time block.  Throughout the day, I alternated between cnn.com, Facebook, and e-mail.  Each time I’d look for something worthwhile to delve into.  I was never successful.

The only things I did of worth today were 1) checking to see if we had oil in the tank for the winter (we do)  2) cleaning my bathroom so Lynn’s Cheryl friends could use it when they came over for their weekly Pergola chats 3) taking Betsy to her dance class after her school and 4) well, I can’t even think of a 4th thing of value I did.

I have felt better today than previous days, perhaps not so lethargic.  I’m hoping to return to the tennis court next week.  But in the meantime it has turned considerably colder.  I hate cold!  Actually I said to myself this morning that I must be feeling better because instead of being in a feeling-sorry-for-myself mood, I was rather grouchy at Glenn Youngkin ads on television.

Lynn had another busy day.  She had a Zoom meeting today for all interpreters in Rockingham County.  Then her friends came over.  Then she walked with her friend Pat Collins.  Then she went to Waynesboro to tutor Juan Pablo. 

I’ve spent some time in the past two days reviewing our Medicare Part D (prescription) coverage.  Medicare participants have an annual window which is open now through December 7 to change their plans from one company to another.  I’ve been doing that religiously for the past several years after we got burned one year by not changing Lynn’s plan.  When that happened, her premium tripled and we didn’t catch it before the window had closed.  She then spent a year paying for prescription services she didn’t need because she didn’t have any prescriptions!  Now she has one she takes, Fosomax for her bone density, and its cost is $12 annually.  Yes, $12 for the entire year.  My prescriptions, which are numerous, cost me about $100 per month even with the best plan I can find.  One issue with Medicare Part D plans is that you have to be careful which pharmacies the company lists as preferred pharmacies because prescriptions are much more expensive if the pharmacy isn’t in their network.  The good news about the one I’ve found for 2022 is that I’ll save money and can choose between Kroger in Staunton, Walgreens in Verona, or Costco in Harrisonburg.  All are in the preferred list for the company I’m likely to sign up for.  I still can’t get over how healthy Lynn is and that she takes virtually zero prescriptions.

For dinner tonight, because Lynn tutored in Waynesboro then had a 6:00 Zoom Pastor-Parish meeting for Central tonight, I ran to Valley Pike and got hamburgers from the Old School food truck.  We hadn’t eaten their burgers in several weeks.  They were good.

After Lynn’s Zoom meeting, we went to Walmart and Kroger in Staunton.  Lynn had a few items on her list to get and I tried unsuccessfully at both to find small coffee filters.  I ended up ordering them on Amazon on my way back.  It’s no wonder Amazon is so successful—these will be delivered for free next Wednesday.  Now if its owner would just have to pay a little bit of tax….

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 28           Infected                   Died

World             246,242,301           4,995,883

US                     46,682,520              763,779   2,000 new deaths       

Virginia                 923,125                13,870   1,500 new cases; 43 new deaths                     

Augusta County       10,159                     125   18 new cases

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,401,217  (5,348,168 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)          I expect these numbers to grow when kids 5 – 11 are allowed to be vaccinated possibly starting next week.

            Augusta County        82,691 (39,446 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.2% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 29, 2021

I took it easy again today hoping that I’m getting over whatever has been bothering me all week.  I did feel better today with much less muscle aching.  I took no Tylenol; in previous days I had taken quite a few.  My body does seem to be going through a progression that I’ve dealt with many times in the past, starting with reflux, to asthma, to congestion, to coughing and chest congestion.  I’ve even had facial skin issues this week that I used to deal with all the time but haven’t had for years.  But perhaps I’m on the mend now; I hope so.

I spent a very frustrating morning at the dermatologist office in Staunton, though.  I was a little annoyed because I had a hard time finding the right office—Shenandoah Dermatology has at least three different offices in three completely different locations all within the same complex near Staunton High School.  I finally got to the one I was supposed to be at a few minutes past my 8:20 appointment.

The nurse asked me what was my reason for coming and I responded that my doctor had biopsied a place on my nose and the results were a basal cell carcinoma (not a serious issue but one that needs to be eventually taken care of).  He seemed surprised that I knew that.  Then the doctor came in and basically repeated his question.  I asked him if he had received the lab report from Carillion labs detailing the basal cell carcinoma.  He had a puzzled look on his face and started looking for it in his iPad.  In the meantime, I pulled it up on my phone and showed it to him.  I had been referred to this office for this very reason and he didn’t even have the lab report.  He then asked me what I wanted to do next.  Take another biopsy?  Why, I answered, when you already have one which shows what I have.  Well, it can be treated, he said, but not at Shenandoah Dermatology.  It would have to be referred to a place (just south of Staunton) which does “Mohs Micrographic Surgery.”  What do I need for that referral?  I asked.  He said I’d need a lab report which says I have a basal cell carcinoma.  Well, I already have that I told him.  So he said they would attempt to get a copy of the Carillion report and refer me.  He then asked if he could freeze a few places off my forehead which were pre-cancerous so I agreed.  Besides this, this was a total waste of my time.

The rest of my day was spent at home, for the most part.  Lynn had several interpreting sessions in the afternoon at Cub Run Elementary School.  She had put together a chicken asiago casserole for our dinner.  But when she came home, she mentioned that she thought about saving it for Sunday’s dinner since it was a large casserole.  I agreed and soon we were on our way to Cracker Barrel for dinner.

Cracker Barrel has a breakfast option which we frequently get for dinner.  She gets country ham biscuits plus a hash brown potato side.  I get the country ham biscuits plus a baked apple side.  Tonight she even gave me her hash browns.  The young waiter, on his third day of work there, was helpful in bringing us our order plus extra biscuits and blackberry preserves.  Since he was trying so hard, we gave him a very generous tip.  After all, we need for people to continue to work to pay into social security!

We got home shortly after 7:00.  I took my shower then we both settled in to watch an Apple + tv series that we’d heard lots of good things about, Ted Lasso.  We ended up watching fives episodes of it.  I’m sure we’ll watch more.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 29           Infected                   Died

World             246,903,280           5,007,629  Wow, over 5 million dead….

US                     46,771,979              765,722   2,000 new deaths again          

Virginia                 924,771                13,907   1,600 new cases; 37 new deaths                     

Augusta County       10,168                     126   Only 9 new cases but one more death

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,444,498  (5,354,235 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 82.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)          I expect these numbers to grow when kids 5 – 11 are allowed to be vaccinated possibly starting next week.

            Augusta County        82,980 (39,462 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.2% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 30, 2021

Three very good events happened today, making it a superb Saturday!  First, we went to Freddie’s soccer game which was at Eastside field in Waynesboro.  It had rained at our house but, luckily, not there.  The first half was all Freddie’s team.  A teammate scored and then he rifled a shot home to give them a 2 – 0 lead at halftime.  But in the second half the other team stormed back and took a 3 – 2 lead.  Shortly thereafter, a teammate of Freddie’s was able to punch it in to tie the score.  Then, with only a few minutes left in the game, Freddie got the ball about twenty yards from the goal and he fired.  Right past the goalie for the game winner!  I love watching him so much!

From there, Lynn, Ann, Betsy, and I drove to Richmond for fantastic event number two of the day.  We had tickets at the Altria Theatre for Anastasia.  Broadway in Richmond had suspended shows at the Altria for the past two years so it was great just to get back into the venue.  I knew nothing about the show prior to its start so, while I didn’t have low expectations, I basically had no expectations as to how much the four of us would enjoy it.  It was fantastic!  The music was great, the choreography was superb, and the singers were, as always, excellent.  We have had the same seats for the five-or-six-shows per year performances of Broadway in Richmond.  The people around us have been the same for years so, in some ways, it was like a homecoming.   All four of us enjoyed the show immensely.

We had eaten at Chick Fil A in Short Pump on the way to Richmond before the show.  When I got to the show I realized that I had left my coat there.  So on the way home we first stopped for ice cream at a good ice cream store, Gelati Celesti.  Then we went by Chick Fil A and got my coat.

All the while, good event number three was taking place in Morgantown.  The Mountaineers were big underdogs against #22 Iowa State.  The kickoff was at the same time as Anastasia started so I couldn’t keep up with the game except at intermission and afterwards.  The game was see-saw.  It was 14 – 14 after the first quarter, 17 – 17 at halftime, and 31 – 31 just a minute into the fourth quarter.  But then West Virginia scored to make it 38 – 31 and held on the last few minutes for a big upset.  Yippee!  Next week Lynn and I will be in the stands as WVU plays Oklahoma State.  I hope they can continue the winning they’ve had the past two games.  They’re 4 – 4  now and need to win at least two of their remaining four games to become bowl eligible.

We got back home around 8:00 thanks to Lynn’s good driving.  It had been a very good day for me.  Lynn had an additional fun event in that she and Cheryl Kent met at a place in Waynesboro early this morning called Black Forest Sawmill which had lots of wood products for sale.  She liked their products a lot.

At the Altria Theatre today, not only did we have to wear masks but we couldn’t even get in until we had shown proof of vaccination.  Betsy had just gotten her second shot on Tuesday, so technically she hadn’t become fully vaccinated since that doesn’t happen until fourteen days after the second shot.  So, to be sure that she could get in, Ann took her to Walgreens in Verona yesterday for a COVID-19 test.  Of course, she was negative.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 30           Infected                   Died

World             247,109,009           5,010,002   Wow, over 5 million dead….

US                     46,799,538              766,117   30,000 new cases       

Virginia                 924,771                13,907   NOT UPDATED DUE TO WEEKEND        

Augusta County       10,168                     126   NOT UPDATED DUE TO WEEKEND

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,488,107  (5,360,389 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.8% of the total population fully vaccinated)          I expect these numbers to grow when kids 5 – 11 are allowed to be vaccinated possibly starting next week.

            Augusta County        83,371 (39,506 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

October 31, 2021

Today was a typical Sunday for us with Sunday School, Church, and dinner for the Gutshalls.  The weather was nice though cooler than it has been.  Lynn and I took a walk mid-afternoon.  That was the first exercise I’d had in a week.  At first, I hurt with every step but by the end of the two mile hike I felt OK and felt fine thereafter.  I’m hoping to play tennis this coming week.  By the end of the day I had almost 7,000 steps.  That’s a lot more than I got any previous day this week.

I had to leave the Zoom Sunday School early to pick up Betsy so she and I could go to Bell Choir Practice.  She’s only done this twice now but seems to be catching on. 

After Church, Lynn picked up some groceries while I brought Betsy home.  Lynn started cooking as soon as she got home and stayed busy all afternoon.   She made fresh rolls, an experimental pickle & cheese concoction, lima beans, focaccia bread, put together a salad, and heated up the chicken asiago she made on Friday.  It was a really good dinner.

Prior to dinner, we tried to do a family Zoom so everyone could see the kids’ Halloween costumes.  Thomas and Georgia were able to join as were Freddie and Betsy but Jim couldn’t join us because he was working on an electrical problem at his house.  He later sent us a picture of Faron and Coen in their costumes.

Two more days of political ads and incessant e-mails!  I hope Terry McAuliffe can hold on but I’m not sure it will happen. 

We talked briefly with Ann and Josh about whether they wanted to revive our plans to go to Puerto Rico.  Of course, it was COVID-19 that halted this trip the first time.   Would you believe that the most vaccinated of any of the US states or territories now is Puerto Rico?  As of today, over 82% of their population has one shot and 72% is fully vaccinated.  Compare that to Virginia:  62.9% fully vaccinated. 

Here are the COVID-19 numbers for today:

October 31           Infected                   Died

World             247,444,350           5,014,695  

US                     46,823,412              766,296               

Virginia                 924,771                13,907   NOT UPDATED DUE TO WEEKEND        

Augusta County       10,168                     126   NOT UPDATED DUE TO WEEKEND

            Vaccinated

Virginia          11,524,574  (5,365,554 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 83.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 62.9% of the total population fully vaccinated)          .

            Augusta County        83,492 (39,540 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    That still is only 52.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.

 

September 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

September 1, 2021

What a day!  We began in Arlington VA, flew to Phoenix AZ, then flew to Portland OR.  Our 49th state!  It was a very good day with no hitches in our plans. 

Well, there was a small hitch back in Arlington.  We went to bed a little later than usual because the Foys wanted to show us some pictures from their wonderful vacation to Yellowstone, Bozeman, and the Grand Tetons.  Around 3:00 AM we were awaken with roaring thunder which seemed to be just outside our window.  It lasted for around a half hour.  When we awoke around 5:00 to get ready for the trip to Reagan Airport, we had no electricity.  Lynn showered in the dark with cold water. Actually, we discovered that only our part of Kay’s house was without electricity but we didn’t want to disturb her or Andy at that early in the day.  When she awoke the found the circuit breaker that needed to be fixed and all was well but by that time we were ready to go to the airport.

Kay kindly drove us to the airport and dropped us off in plenty of time to get through security and obtain our boarding passes.  Our flight to Phoenix left at 8:00 AM and we had spare time to grab a small breakfast in the airport while we waited. 

Both the flight from Reagan to Phoenix and the following Phoenix to Portland were on time.  Neither flight was full and everyone was masked up.  Lynn and I wore two masks including the KN95 masks she had bought for us.  The first flight was on a nicer plane so I watched a movie (Billie Jean King story) on my iPad during its five hours in the air.   Between flights, we grabbed lunch and walked some in the Phoenix airport.  Both flights were smooth and on time.

When we arrived in Portland, we proceeded to the Alamo rental car center where we picked up our car.  From there it was a fairly short drive to the Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Portland.  Hal was at the door awaiting us; he and Diane had arrived a little beforehand and secured our two rooms side by side.

We had a wonderful visit with Hal and Diane.  It started with sharing a glass of wine in our large hotel room.  From there we walked a few blocks to an Italian restaurant, Piattino, where we enjoyed a very nice meal and conversation.  Lynn and I split a beet salad, shared some bread with the Koerners, then split a serving of risotto. 

After walking back to our hotel, we ate some cupcakes which Hal and Diane had brought with them from a shop owned by her cousin near Seattle.  They have been on a rather long drive which took them from Denver to Mount Rushmore to Glacier National Park then Seattle. 

Exhausted, we were in bed by 9:00 Pacific time which would have been midnight our time.  It was a great start to our Oregon vacation.

I’m not going to try to keep posting the COVID-19 statistics on this blog during our vacation.  Suffice it to say that the pandemic rages on.  We’ll do our part here in Oregon by wearing masks but we’re keenly aware that Augusta County is still a hotbed for the virus, especially with fewer than half of its population fully vaccinated.

September 2, 2021

Our first full day in Oregon was full of scenic beauty and some pleasant surprises.  After a decent breakfast at the Residence Inn by Marriott, the four of us headed east on I-84 in our Chevy Malibu rental car.  The car was big enough for all of us.

We got a very early start; we had admission tickets for Multnomah Falls for 10:00.  I had caught online a few weeks ago that the Falls, due to high demand and COVID-19, was requiring all visitors to buy timed admission tickets there.  They were only $1 each but did serve the purpose of limiting the crowds to what is said to be Oregon’s top tourist attraction.

Since we were early, we decided to get off I-84 and instead drive on what is known as Scenic Route 30 which parallels the interstate.  This highway was developed in the 1930’s for the purpose of taking the traveler near to not just Multnomah Falls but several other beautiful waterfalls and scenic vistas overlooking the Columbia River.  Luckily, we exited I-84 just in time to catch some of these overlooks.  Of course, I was camera-ready.

Our first waterfall was Latourell Falls.  It was a very impressive waterfall that you could walk almost to the base.  In many states this would have been the major tourist attraction though here it was outshone by Multnomah Falls.  Latourell Falls is a 250 foot drop whereas Multnomah is a 620 foot waterfall.  We actually had to skip another waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls,  between the two because it was getting near to 10:00.

The waterfall was so impressive as my pictures show.  We picked up a few souveniers from the gift shop there.  The weather was a little cool at first but remained nice throughout the day.

When we left Multnomah Falls we continued on US 30 and shortly came to Horsetail Falls, another beautiful waterfall.  The scenery is so nice, especially with the huge Columbia River in the background. 

Leaving Horsetail Falls, soon we came to the Bradford Island Visitor Center at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.  We had plenty of time so we decided to stop there.  It was a great choice because, as it turns out, this is the season where the salmon migrate from the Pacific Ocean up the Columbia River to spawn their eggs.  A ranger was just starting a presentation on their life cycle.  In the background were windows into the “fish ladder” which is what was constructed so the salmon could get up river beyond the locks on the Bonneville Dam.  Through the window you could see the huge salmon migrating.  Thousands of fish per day make this trip.

After that great discovery, we grabbed some lunch in a town called Cascade Locks.  We  then continued east but this time we crossed over the “Bridge of the Gods” to the Washington state side.  We had been told that a few miles north we would be able to get a good view of Mount Hood which was due south of us at that point.  After a good while we were able to catch a glimpse of its dome and took some pictures. 

We crossed the Columbia River back to the Oregon side and drove further east to the town of The Dalles.  There we discovered an ice cream store which made for a good mid-afternoon snack. 

Heading back to Portland, our plans were to catch the falls we had missed before Multnomah but the I-84 exits to it were only in the eastbound lanes so we elected to skip them and go directly to the Portland Rose Garden.

This was another good choice as we were able to find the gardens within Washington Park and spent almost an hour admiring the roses.  My pictures attest to their beauty.

We then came back to the hotel, changed clothes, and headed for dinner.  This time we walked to a pizza place, The Star.  By the time we got back from our pizza dinner it was almost 10:00 so we headed to bed after a great first day.

September 3, 2021

Another good day in Oregon!  We didn’t see as many spectacular vistas today but we did experience a variety of things in our second full day here.  After our breakfast at the Residence Inn, we headed north towards Astoria.

On the way, Hal had found reference to another waterfall.  He had its location on his phone but we didn’t see any signs pointing toward it.  In fact, even when we got to the location there were no signs.  We saw a path that looked promising, so we walked a few hundred feet on it until we ended up at the very top of a waterfall about 100 feet high.  From the top, we could see that the little road we had traveled had a place on it that would give a view of the entire falls so we went back to the car, drove to the location where we got the full view, and took some pictures.  The falls was listed as Beaver Creek Falls but there was not a single sign at the actual location.

We then drove to Astoria, a town on the edge of the Pacific.  This town had lots of history including being where explorers had come by boat prior to the Lewis and Clark overland expedition.  We went to the Astoria Column, a towering hilltop monument with murals depicting area history, which had panoramic views of the area.  In fact, we each climbed the 165 steps to the top of the Column.

From there, we walked around the small town and found some lunch at the Silver Salmon Grill.  Our next stop was at Fort Clatsop, part of the Lewis and Clark National Park. At the park we saw two videos about the Lewis and Clark expedition and walked through a museum about it.

We were at the park for over an hour.  Then we drove a short distance to a Costco where I filled up with gas and all of us did some shopping in the large Costco there.  Then we drove to Seaside, OR, where we got ice cream and viewed our first Pacific coast beach.  Seaside was the ending point of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  We also stopped at a salt works site that Lewis and Clark had created.

We then drove back to Portland with a short side trip to view Cannon Beach.  It took almost two hours to drive back to the hotel.  When we got here, we walked to another Italian restaurant, Piaza Italia. 

September 4, 2021

Today was our first day on the Oregon coast.  We left Portland shortly after breakfast and headed due east toward Tillamook.  This time we were in two cars since Hal and Diane will be going on to Ashland in a few days while Lynn and I explore more of central Oregon.  Our drive to Tillamook took us through the Tillamook State Forest, a beautiful drive with tall pine trees on both sides.  The weather again was gorgeous.

Hal had found another waterfall for us to explore.  This time it was in the State Forest so we had to get off the main highway and drive for several miles on dirt/gravel roads until we got to the trail to University Falls.  It was only 0.4 mile to the falls though the hike took us downhill a good bit.  It was worth the effort—these falls were another in our series of beautiful waterfalls.  My pictures show this.

We drove several miles on the dirt/gravel road until we got back to the main highway and headed to Tillamook Creamery, a well known attraction.  There were hundreds of people in line to get in for the self-guided tour of the facilities, known for making cheese and ice cream.  After we waited our turn, we took the tour, stopped in the gift shop where Lynn got a few samples of the cheese and some caramels, then got in a second long line for ice cream.  It was worth the wait; the ice cream was very good.  I had two flavors, Oregon Dark Cherry and Marionberry Pie.  Lynn had a milkshake of Tillamook Mudslide and Utterly Chocolate.

All during this time I tried to keep up with the WVU – Maryland football game.  Alas, if you’re a WVU fan you’ve got to learn to live with disappointment.  The Mountaineers fell to the Terrapins 30 – 24. 

From Tillamook, we then drove south on US 101, the Pacific coastal highway, for several hours until we arrived at Yachats where we’ll be for the next two days.  Along the way we stopped several times at vistas overlooking the Pacific and its beaches.  We also stopped at a pottery shop and glass blowing store.  One of our prettiest stops was at an old lighthouse.  We plan to do more of this kind of tourism on Sunday.

The motel in Yachats, the Fireside, has a great location.  Our upstairs rooms have a balcony that overlooks the ocean.  The sunset was especially beautiful.  We had 8:00 reservations for dinner at a restaurant so close we walked to it, The Adobe.  I had a huge prime rib dinner and Lynn had shrimp and steak.  We shared a bottle of wine Hal and Diane had brought with them.  It was a fantastic dinner with the sunset over the Pacific in our background.

Worn out, we returned to our rooms to end another fine day in Oregon.

September 5, 2021

Today was Sunday, another beautiful day, weather-wise.  The temperature was cool on the beach when we awoke, probably around 60o, but it heated up to the 70’s during the day.  We have been so lucky with the weather.

Oregon takes the mask mandate seriously.  We were at a restaurant today at lunchtime, waiting our turn outside.  A group of three were ahead of us, none of whom had on a mask.  When they were called, the receptionist told them they’d have to wear masks.  “We don’t have any” came the reply back.  “Then I’ll get you some” retorted the clerk.  “We’re from Florida and make our own decisions” the lady grumbled as she put on the mask she was given.  Many people here wear them on hiking trails, along the beaches, sidewalks, etc.  I wish Virginia residents were as serious about containing COVID-19.

Our first stop of the day was breakfast since it was not provided here at the Fireside Inn.  We found that a bakery, Bread and Roses, was just a mile away.  We were surprised to find that the street in front of the bakery was closed because a Farmer’s Market was taking place there.  But we managed to park nearby and got coffee and a pastry each from the market.  Lynn had to settle for hot chocolate since they didn’t have her favorite ice tea. 

We returned to our hotel and ate our small breakfast on the balconies outside our rooms facing the ocean.  For my second cup of coffee I walked to the hotel’s lobby where I also noted that they had the kind of tea bags that I use each day to make Lynn’s tea, Lipton, so I made her a cup of tea which she drank later in the day.

After breakfast, we loaded up in the rental car and headed south.  Our goal was to stop at all locations on the way which looked interesting.  It turned out there were plenty of them so we spent the entire day between our hotel and 30 miles south of here on Highway 101, the beautiful Coastal Highway.

Our first stop was at Hecta Head Lighthouse, a lighthouse that was used beginning in the 1800’s.  We had a half mile walk from the parking lot up to the lighthouse.  The pictures I took there were among the most scenic thus far.

The coast was foggy much of the morning so when we pulled over at the Sea Lion Caves spot, we elected to come back there later in the day because the viewing would have been obstructed by the fog.  Actually, when we returned there in the afternoon they had shut down due to a broken elevator so we didn’t get to see the sea lions.

We did get to see much more, though.  Our lunch was at the Fresh Harvest Café in Florence, OR.  I had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  Lynn had a BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado).  We both had cream of mushroom soup.

We headed back north to what was known as the Hobbitt Beach Trail.  The trail took us ½ mile down to the beach.  The walk was a little tough both down and up but it did give us our first chance to get our hands into the Pacific Ocean.  Though the trail was fairly crowded with people, the beach was so large that it was by no means crowded.

Continuing back, we stopped at a place known as Thors Well.  Here the ocean’s waves had an unusual phenomenon where they alternately filled a circular hole about 50 feet in diameter then sucked the water back out.  I took a video of the action.

We returned to the hotel at that point.  There was a trail just down from our hotel, one that we had walked on in order to go to dinner the night before.  Lynn wanted to walk more on it so we walked about a mile in the opposite direction today.  It turned out that this trail was once the first highway in the area and was known as the 804 Trail.  It overlooked the beach areas so it was a nice level walking path.

We achieved our 10,000 steps while walking on this trail.  Actually nearly every day we’ve been in Oregon we’ve made it to this goal.  Tomorrow we’ll greatly exceed it if all goes well because we’re going to walk on a 7.4 mile loop hike known as the Trail of Ten Falls.

For dinner, we drove to downtown Yachats and found a nice restaurant known as the Drift Inn

Lynn and I split a pizza because we wanted to save room for ice cream at the shop across the street, Toppers Ice Cream Shop.  I had huckleberry ice cream there, the first time I”d tasted that on this trip.  I confess that none of the ice cream I’ve had in Oregon had compared to Smiley’s salted caramel chocolate chunk.

We returned to our rooms and called it a day.  Tomorrow our paths will split as Hal and Diane will drive south on Highway 101 and head to Ashland while Lynn and I will drive northward eventually getting to Silver Falls State Park near Salem which is the location for the Trail of Ten Falls.

September 6, 2021

Today can be summed up with what my Apple watch said at the end of the day:  24,112 steps, 10.46 miles.  Yes, we walked over ten miles today, nearly all of it on the Trail of Ten Falls. 

We began the day with a big breakfast in Yachats at the Blue Whale Family Restaurant.  I had pancakes.  Lynn had eggs and a huge cinnamon bun.  We ate so much that we didn’t eat any lunch.  It was our last meal with Hal and Diane before they headed to Ashland ahead of us.

I can’t say enough nice things about Hal and Diane.  They have been so accommodating for us, making arrangements ahead of time for hotels like the one we just stayed in, agreeing to go where we asked to go, and sharing their wonderful wine with us.  They did get some bad news during breakfast—the ultramarathon their son Hallie was in charge of and we were to help with next week had to be canceled due to smoke from the rampant forest fires in California and Oregon.  Actually he had no choice but to cancel it because part of the 100 mile race went through national forests and they were closed due to the smoke.

Lynn and I returned to the hotel, checked out, and did one final visit to a Pacific coast beach.  Then we headed east through the college town of Corvallis onward to Lebanon where our next hotel was.  We got there around noon but they couldn’t check us in that early.  They were kind enough to store some refrigerated things for us until we returned to check in later in the day. 

We headed for Silver Falls State Park, the location of the Trail of Ten Falls.  I had read that this was the best hike to take in Oregon because it led you to ten different waterfalls, some of which you actually walked behind the falls.  It took almost an hour to get there and get ready to walk but by 1:30 we were on our way to the first waterfall.

I had been warned in my research that the park would be heavily used and this was true.  Even though being outside, some people still wore masks so we had ours with us.  The parking lot was nearly full since it was Labor Day.  Plus, the weather was perfect.

The hike was not easy by any means.  It took us five hours to complete it.  The trail took you way down into canyons for part of the time then up above waterfalls at others.  It was very, very rocky so you had to watch each step.  Of course we stopped and took pictures at each waterfall.  I took around 100 photos. 

As we began our hike, a couple helped us get on the right trail.  They said they lived only ten minutes away and commented that they had never seen the falls so low.  Thinking back, as we drove here we passed brown field after brown field so apparently Oregon has had the drought that we’ve experienced in Virginia.  One of the ten falls had only a trickle of water coming over it.  Another was named Twin Falls but there was no twin, just one waterfall though you could see where the other normally was.

This didn’t take away from the beauty of the falls, though.  I was especially enamored by the waterfalls where the trail took you behind them.  My pictures attest to the beauty of this hike.

We were definitely worn out by the time we saw the tenth waterfall.  But even then we had over a two mile walk back to our car.  We hadn’t eaten all day.  But we made it! 

We had a humorous experience after the ninth waterfall.  There was a Y in the trail and we weren’t sure which way to go.  A mother and her young son helped us as we explained that we had been to all previous falls and just needed to know which way to go to the tenth.  As they walked away, Lynn overheard the young boy say, “They must have started walking early this morning.  They probably woke up and he said ‘Let’s go, honey!’”  Yes, we’re old, but we didn’t start walking in the morning.  I probably did say, “let’s go, honey!” at some point, though.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Safeway and bought laundry detergent and mousse for her hair.  We couldn’t have flown with either of these due to the 3.4 ounce limit by the TSA for liquids. 

In the same town, we found a Mexican restaurant named Ixtapa.  I ordered a combination dinner with one burrito, one anchilada, and one chili reyeno.  Lynn likewise ordered a combination dinner including a chimichanga.  When the plates came, they were huge.  Even though we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, neither of us could eat little more than half of what we had been given. 

It was almost 8:30 by the time we got back to the hotel and checked in.  This hotel is a Best Western Premier hotel, a step up from the standard Best Western.  It was a very nice place to stay.  Lynn did some laundry before we went to bed. 

After all that walking, the bed was a welcome sight.

September 7, 2021

Today our task was to move from Lebanon OR to Bend OR and visit some sites nearby.  The day didn’t have as many activities and scenic overlooks for us as previous ones but we still had a good day and got in our 10,000 steps.

We had a different experience with Best Western today than the previous day.  Previously, in Lebanon we had stayed at a Best Western Premier Hotel, a very nice and new hotel.  Plus, it hadn’t cost us that much.  Today, as we were heading east near Bend, Lynn noticed that the reviews for the Best Western we had reserved in Bend were not good.  Some wrote that it was unclean, was in a bad neighborhood, and generally made us leery of staying there.  The problem  is that we had passed the cancel-for-free date and didn’t want to have to pay for the room if we didn’t stay there.  So we called Best Western and asked them if they could move us to another Best Western in the area.  One person said she could do that then right as we were finishing the reservation at the alternate location the phone connection dropped.  We called back hoping to get the same lady but we got another one.  She told us that since we had passed the cut-off for cancellation she couldn’t make the change.  I asked to speak to her supervisor who finally took care of moving us to the one in Redmond OR, just a few miles north of Bend.  It wasn’t nearly as nice as the one in Lebanon and cost more but I believe we made the right call.

The drive here took us over some high mountains.  We saw where the road, US 20, was going to be closed beginning on September 8 for construction work.  Luckily, we were one day early. 

The smoke is so obvious here.  You can smell it.  The sun is dimmed by it.  There is no such thing as a panoramic picture because of the haze from the smoke.

We ate lunch at a Dairy Queen on our way to Bend.  Shortly afterwards as we neared Bend we decided to make our first stop at Tumalo Falls, a few miles south of the city.  This summer has definitely been our summer of waterfalls.  This one was quite nice as my pictures show.

From Tumalo Falls, we headed to Smith Rock State Park which was north of Bend.  This park had numerous trails to hike on but nearly all of them involved multiple climbing down and up so we stuck to a beautiful trail around the rim.  This park is a favorite for rock climbers but we didn’t see any.  It was quite hot and we were still tired from the long walk the day before.

We drove back to the Best Western, checked in, then headed to Bend.  There we walked on a very nice trail, the Deschutes River Trail.  As we walked we saw why Bend is a favorite town to so many people.  The river had many people boating in a variety of boats from kayaks to rafts to intertubes.  Most people we saw were much younger than us; most had a dog in tow. 

We had reservations for dinner at The Phoenix restaurant.  It was a great choice.  Lynn had a raspberry salad and French onion soup.   I had a half rack of ribs and a salad.  After our fine dinner we headed back to the hotel and called it a day.

September 8, 2021

Our visit to Crater Lake can be summed up in one word—disappointment. There were so many things disappointing about today and many were caused by one other word—smoke.  Indeed, it was so smoky from the forest fires that you could hardly tell that there was a lake out there from one of the many, many viewpoints of Crater Lake.  On a clear day I would easily have taken a hundred pictures of the lake.  I may have taken five and those were so smoky they were unrecognizable as Crater Lake. 

We tried!  We left Redmond early so we could get to Crater Lake around lunch time.  It was about a two and a half hour drive south down Route 97 then westward on a back road to get to the park.  On the way, we made one delightful stop at LaPine where we went to a state park which had in it the largest ponderosa pine tree ever.  Its circumference was over 28 feet.   

From there we drove to Crater Lake, stopping only to fill up our gas tank since gas is scarce at the park.  But from the get-go we were frustrated that the smoke kept us from getting a view of the lake.  We decided to go on to Mazama Village where our cabin was.  Mazama Village is still within Crater Lake National Park but is about 14 miles from the Visitor Center/Lodge. 

At Mazama we were told we couldn’t check into our cabin until 4:00 so we headed back up to the rim overlooking Crater Lake and drove the 35 mile perimeter road around the lake.  There were many stops along this road and we took some of them but finally bailed since the only thing we were getting pictures of was smoke.  The air smelled of smoke and I know our clothes will be that way.

Another disappointing part of our visit was that many of the signs identifying the vistas had been taken down or stolen.  On the map we were given we could see various named overlooks but when we got to some there was no way to identify it as the same as that on the map.

Another disappointing happening was that several exhibits and buildings that were supposed to be manned by rangers were closed.  The sign on one said that it was too smokey so the rangers had left for the day.  Bummer!  Lynn couldn’t even get her national parks passport stamped because the people working at that venue had abandoned it for the day.

The only bright thing was that we saw the Oscar Meyer weinermobile in the parking lot.  I don’t know why it was here.

Returning back to Mazama village, we were able to check in.  We had already paid for the first night’s lodging and we paid for the second when we registered today.  We learned several things about the cabins that would not go over well with us:  no refrigerator, no microwave, no tv, no toaster, and no air conditioning. 

All afternoon long I had been getting chest pains possibly from breathing the smoky air.  When we got to our stark cabin, we decided that we would attempt to get our money back for the second night here and leave tomorrow.  Stopping back by the office where we had checked in, the people there were very understanding and said we could get our money back for tomorrow night.

Internet is almost non-existent here.  There was supposed to be WiFi at the restaurant but it was very, very slow.  We had gone there to eat dinner.  There weren’t any other places to eat in the park and we found out that they would not be open in the morning for breakfast so basically there was no place to get any breakfast.  More frustration!

We did eat dinner at the Mazama Village restaurant.  Lynn had fish and chips and I had a hamburger.  Then we went back to the top of the mountain where the lodge and visitor center was because we were told they had some internet there.  Sure enough, we were able to send a few texts and even made a phone call to add tomorrow night to our reservations in Ashland for the weekend.  We’ll drive there tomorrow afternoon.

In the morning, we hope to get up early because there is a chance the lake won’t be so smoky then and I can get some pictures.  We might be disappointed again though. 

Full of disappointment, we returned to the cabin and went to bed.  We can say that we were here and even bought a shirt and hat from the gift shop.  But Crater Lake is a lot prettier than what we saw today because of the forest fires ravaging California and southern Oregon.

September 9, 2021

We crossed our fingers that the smoke would be abated at Crater Lake so we could see the lake.  We were told that sometimes the mornings are the best time to view it.  So we got up early in our stark cabin, ate a small breakfast with things we had brought with us, then headed up the mountain to the Visitor’s Center at the rim.  Our hopes were dashed.  It was smokier than ever. 

Undeterred, we decided to ride twenty miles north to Diamond Lake, a lake that yesterday others had told us was beautiful and not smoky.  We got there rather quickly only to find that it, too, was covered with thick smoke.  Ugh!

We drove back to the top of the rim—our fourth trip there.  We faintly hoped things would be better but, no surprise, they weren’t.  The park would normally have hundreds of people combing over it; this morning there were about six of us there.  One was a forest ranger whom Lynn quickly befriended.  The ranger was kind enough to stamp Lynn’s national park passport even though she wasn’t supposed to open anything up.  Yes, even the rangers didn’t come to work today because of the smoke level.  She told us the level was 224 which was very unsafe.  She told us that the lake had been smoky since July 5 when the first fire broke out in Oregon. 

We finally folded our cards and left Crater Lake.  We got a few pictures but all were mostly smoke.  We checked out at Mazama Village and headed for Medford.

The drive to Medford was very scenic with tall pine trees lining the road.  We saw several signs which said “Open Range” but we had no idea what that meant.  Hal told us tonight that it meant that there was livestock unfenced in the area which might show up in the middle of the road!  Apparently this is a phenomenon many places in the west.  Fortunately, the only cows we saw were fenced in.

We got to Medford at lunch time.  Lynn had seen an advertisement for a Harry and David store.  I had never heard of that store before.  We drove straight there and she picked up a few things for the Koerners including Hal and Diane’s grandchildren, Nyla and Issac.

We found a neat restaurant for lunch, the Black Bear Diner.  Lynn had a huge chocolate milkshake for lunch.  I had blackberry cobbler with ice cream. 

From there we droved to the Ashland Hills Hotel where we’ll be for the next few days.  After checking in, I worked on uploading my pictures since we had no internet in Crater Lake.  Lynn washed a load of clothes in the laundry facility at the hotel.  Soon Hal and Diane came along with Nyla and Issac.  The kids had just gotten out of school for the day and wanted to swim in the hotel’s swimming pool.  We had a nice time watching them play with each other and with Hal in the pool.  Halie came a few minutes later and we made plans for dinner. 

We followed Hal and Diane to Halie’s house where we ordered takeout from a local restaurant.  Hal’s friend Sarah joined us for a very nice meal.  Soon it was time for the kids to have stories read to them so Lynn and I jetted back to the hotel.

We made reservations today to stay Sunday night in Eugene OR.  This is one city we haven’t been to and will cut our return trip to Portland in half. 

Oregon is strict everywhere in enforcing the mask mandate indoors.  I have yet to find a single store we’ve been in that wouldn’t do that.  Good for them!

Another interesting thing about Oregon is that you don’t pump your own gas here.  All gas stations have hired workers who do it for you without expecting a tip. 

September 10, 2021

We had several more positive experiences with Hal and Diane today.  After breakfast here at the hotel, we drove to Jacksonville, about a half hour away.  Jacksonville is an old town, founded in the 1800’s, and had lots going on today.  The four of us walked and shopped.  Lynn found a pocketbook she really liked and bought it.

Meanwhile I tried to get the results of my PSA test from Augusta Health.  It wasn’t easy.  They did call me back this morning only to inform me that their online portal didn’t keep PSA records and I needed to call Blue Ridge Urology to get the results.  So I did but was told that they didn’t seem to have the records and would check into it.  After not hearing back from them for a couple of hours, I called them back.  They gave me the bad news that the Augusta Health lab had done the wrong tests on my blood, not the PSA test.  They asked if I could stop by the lab and have the PSA test done today.  No, I said, I was in Oregon and that was exactly why I went on August 30 to have it done. 

I ended up having to move my urology appointment to September 22 and will have to get the test redone at Augusta Health soon after I get back.  Very frustrating!  As bad as Augusta County has been with COVID-19 infections, spending more time at Augusta Health is not what I want to do.

After the Jacksonville stop, we drove further west for a short while.  This was getting fairly near where the ultramarathon was supposed to have started had it not been canceled.  We hoped to get lunch on this road but the place we stopped at was closed so we returned toward Jacksonville and stopped at a neat vineyard named Dancin’.

At Dancin’ we had a wonderful lunch.  Lynn and I split a margerita pizza. The four of us split two appetizers, a stuffed mushroom appetizer and a bread plate.  The grapes at the vineyard had just ripened and there was a crew picking them.  I took several pictures, of course.

After lunch we drove back to Ashland and stopped at Halie’s store, the Rogue Valley Runners store.  Meanwhile Hal went to grab their grandkids from school.  Halie had authored a book, Hal Koerner’s Field Guide to Ultrarunning so I bought a copy and had him sign in for Jim.  I don’t know that Jim will ever do any ultrarunning but if he does perhaps getting a book from one of the top ultramarathon runners in the US would help.

Once the kids came, we walked up the street and got some ice cream.  I had two scoops, one of salted caramel chocolate swirl and the other a flavor I had never had before, pear.  Actually it was named Rogue Valley Pear since there are many pear trees in this area and I assume the pears came from there.

We returned to the hotel, got caught up on a few things while the Koerner family swam in the hotel pool.  We joined them for a few minutes then we headed for dinner at a nearby brewery named Caldera’s.  It was another fine meal.  Eight of us were there:  Hal, Diane, Halie, Sarah, Nyla, Isaac, Lynn, and me.  I had angelhair pasta.  Lynn has coconut shrimp then shared her guacamole and chips with others. 

We returned to the hotel after making plans for all eight of us to go to an animal rehabilitation center named Wildlife Images tomorrow.  It will be another fun day, I hope.

September 11, 2021

For our last day in southern Oregon, we spent most of the day with all of the Koerner family.  After breakfast at the hotel, we headed for Wildlife Images, a wildlife rehab center.  The drive north was approximately an hour.   It somewhat doubled as a zoo with lots of animals on display there.  We heard a few short talks while we were there and got an awesome view of an American eagle.

After our visit there, we headed to Rogue Creamery for lunch and a tour.  The creamery was right on the farm where the cows were milked.  After our delicious lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and some crackers and dip, we got a very informative tour of the milking process.  It is all done by robots and is computer controlled. 

From there we went to Woolridge Creek winery for a wine tasting.   Hal is a member of this winery so we got our tasting for free.  All of the Koerners and Sarah appear to be wine experts.  Lynn and I are neophytes in this field but we enjoyed the chance to do this since we rarely do tastings.

We then drove on back to Ashland.  On the way, we learned that Hal and Diane had bought tickets for us to watch a show, The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, at the Oregon Shakespeare Theatre.  They only bought two tickets because they had expected to be working the race at this time but, of course, it was canceled.  We felt badly about accepting the tickets but felt like it was the right thing to do.  In the meantime, they had made reservations for us at a nice Italian restaurant, Cocina Biazzi for 7:00.  The show started at 8:00 so we had to leave dinner early in order to make it to the show.  Hal III kindly drove us then returned to dinner.

The show was a powerful autobiography about Fannie Lou Hamer, a black civil rights advocate who, in the 1960’s, spent her life advocating for voting rights for blacks.  There was only the one actress in the show and she did a marvelous job. 

Before we returned to the hotel, we made a stop at Zoey’s for ice cream.  Lynn had a milkshake of chocolate peanut butter and I had a waffle cone of salted caramel chocolate ice cream.  We got back to the hotel around 10:00 but even then Lynn decided to do a load of laundry.  We both should have plenty of clothes for the remainder of our time in Oregon.

September 12, 2021

We parted from our company with Hal and Diane today.  They have been most gracious hosts to us in Oregon.  The places they’ve picked for us to stay, eat, and go have been superb.  We both hope to join them in another trip soon.

We started the day eating breakfast with them at a restaurant in Ashland, Morning Glory.  I brought my laptop into the restaurant while eating breakfast so I could show them some of the pictures I had taken plus share the expenses spreadsheet with Hal and pick up some photos from Diane. 

After that, we went back to Ashland Hills Hotel, checked out, then drove to Lithia Park in Ashland.  There we walked with Hal and Diane on a trail in the really nice city park.  The park had just converted some tennis courts into pickle ball courts so I asked Hal to share with me some of the rules and strategies of pickleball because he is an excellent and frequent player.  We also visited some vendors in the park then said our good-byes. 

We drove directly to Eugene OR on Interstate 5.  By the time we got there it was mid-afternoon so we decided to get some ice cream for lunch.  We found an ice cream store with perhaps the most delicious ice cream we’ve had on the trip, Handel’s.  Better still, there is a Handel’s store in Portland so we can have it again tomorrow.

After the ice cream, we checked in at our Hilton Garden Inn in Eugene then decided to find a place to walk.  We found a park known as Dorris Ranch Park not far away which had a very nice trail in it.  By the time we finished, we had each walked nearly 13,000 steps for the day.  The weather, as it has been every day in Oregon, was superb. 

We had been given good advice by Hal to eat at the North Bank McMenamins in Eugene.  It was on the Willamette River and we ate outside with a good view of the river and the bike trail that ran beside it.  We very smartly decided to split a hamburger, salad, and order of fries.  We each got plenty.

After dinner, we found a WalMart not too far away where Lynn found an Oregon shirt and I got some chocolate.  On our way back to the hotel we stopped by Shari’s Café and Pies where I got some apple pie for breakfast.  The Hilton Garden Inn doesn’t have a free breakfast but they do have coffee.  Lynn has some ice tea we picked up at a nearby McDonalds plus some pastry she got back in Ashland for breakfast.

I’ve now uploaded over 800 pictures on this trip.  But I’m not done—tomorrow we hope to return to the beautiful US 30 scenic drive and see two falls we had to skip on our first day in Oregon.  Plus there’s some shopping Lynn wants to do in our last full day in Oregon.

September 13, 2021

We spent our last full day in Oregon catching up on some sights near Portland we missed the first time we were here.  We left Eugene in time to make it to the Pandora store in Portland shortly after the opened at 10:00.  Lynn bought a charm for her Pandora bracelets that had an outline of Oregon on it.  This store was in a huge mall; we spent a good bit of time walking up and down its many corridors and looking in various stores.

From there we drove to the Handel’s ice cream store in Portland.  We fell in love with their ice cream in Eugene.  The store in Portland was no different.  Our lunch consisted of ice cream.  Like yesterday, Lynn had a chocolate peanut butter milkshake and I had a salted caramel chocolate truffle cone. 

After our ice cream, we found a Costco store not too far away so I filled up gas since we’re supposed to turn the rental car in tomorrow with at least half a tank of gas in it.  Then we drove east on I-84 then onto scenic US 30.

We drove on the scenic US 30 with Hal and Diane last week but we had skipped a couple of waterfalls.  Lynn and I wanted to see them.  Plus, I wanted to get a few more pictures of Multnomah Falls.  Our first stop was at the Vista House.  When the four of us stopped here last week it wasn’t open.  Today it was and I was able to get some pictures of the Columbia River Valley from its balcony. 

Next we drove a few miles to Bridal Veil Falls.  This waterfall required a 2/3 mile hike but it was worth it.  Next came Wahkeena Falls which also required an uphill hike to get a good view of it.  Both Bridal Veil and Wahkeena waterfalls were very picturesque.  I’m glad we came back to get these photos.

We then drove to Multnomah Falls where a kind brother and sister aided us in getting pictures of us with the falls in the background.  I can see these pictures showing up on a 2022 calendar.  Then we drove to the Oneonto Gorge and took a few more pictures before heading back to Portland.

We drove straight to another Costco where Lynn bought some Tillamook cheese snack packs which she wants to take back to her friends and family.  Then we checked in at the Hilton Garden Inn Airport where our last night in Oregon will be spent.

For dinner, we drove a few blocks to Shari’s Café and Pies, the same chain that I had bought slices of apple pies from last night for my breakfast today and tomorrow.  Lynn ate a salad, a grilled cheese, and brought home a piece of chocolate peanut butter pie.  I ate some chicken breasts, broccoli, and a baked potato plus a piece of peach pie with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

When we returned to the hotel, we cleaned out our collection of items we had bought while here so we can make room for everything in our suitcases as we fly home tomorrow afternoon.  Our flight leaves at noon.  Prior to that, of course, we’ll return the rental car and get to the airport in plenty of time to make it through check-in and security.  I hope our flight home goes as smoothly as the rest of our trip has gone.

Here are a few notes on our trip:

  • I believe most people in Oregon have 1) a tattoo and 2) a dog.  We’ve seen plenty of them both.
  • We’ve had excellent weather every single day of our two weeks in Oregon.  The  temperature has not gotten above the high 80’s anytime.  The typical high for a day has been in the 70’s or low 80’s.  It rained one night while we slept but I have not run my windshield wipers once due to rain.
  • The roads here in Oregon have been great and we’ve experienced no traffic stoppages.   Oregon has done a good job of providing plenty of smooth roads with plenty of lanes.  Thanks to Google Maps we’ve had no issues navigating. 
  • Oregon does all of this with no sales tax. 
  • Lynn and I are returning home a few pounds over what we entered Oregon as.  We’ll have to cut back on our eating when we return to Virginia.
  • We’ve seen over twenty waterfalls on this trip.  These aren’t small 10-15 footers; they have been hundreds of feet high.
  • I have driven over 2,000 miles since we got here.  The Chevy Malibu has worked fine though there are several things about the car I don’t like such as that I have never figured out how to open the trunk from within the car (I’ve had to use the key fob every time).
  • Nowhere in those 2,000 miles did I see a policeman checking speed. Quite unlike Virginia!
  • Seeing the sights has been great but even better was visiting with Hal and Diane and their family.
  • The arrangements made by our AAA contact, Mana Walsh, have been perfect.  She has proven to be a great travel agent.
  • I’ve taken 850 pictures in Oregon.  Thanks to the WiFi at each hotel, I’ve been able to get them all uploaded and shared with others.  Plus, I’ve added pictures from Lynn and Diane.
  • The only hiccup on the entire trip was the smoke at Crater Lake which prevented us from seeing its beauty. 

September 14, 2021

Today’s post will be short because all we’ve done is to sit in airports and fly.  We loaded all of our belongings up and were at the Alamo car return center before they opened at 9:00.  Soon we had checked back in the car with no issues and were being shuttled to the Portland airport.  The only issue with Alamo. I had is that the bill showed we were charged $11.36 for gasoline when I brought the vehicle back with a little more gas than I picked it up with and that showed on the receipt.  A quick call to Alamo customer support and we were refunded the $11.36.

The flight from Portland to Dallas was very smooth.  I watched most of a movie, 12 Mighty Orphans, during this flight and finished it on the next one.  It was a soapy movie somewhat based on fact which was set in the Great Depression where legendary coach Rusty Russell leads the football team of a Fort Worth orphanage to compete for a state championship.

That flight took three hours and got us there around 5:00, Dallas time since we gained back two hours as we passed from Pacific to Mountain to Central time.  We had eaten no lunch and knew that we had around an hour before our next flight so we grabbed dinner at Qdoba in the airport.  I had a burrito while Lynn had a bowl.  For airport food it wasn’t bad.

Soon we were boarded and on our way to Reagan Airport.  The flight left on time which was a good thing because Kay kindly had agreed to meeting us at the airport at 10:47 when it arrived.  This wasn’t easy for her since today and tomorrow were both school days for her kids and work days for her.  Today was Georgia’s ninth birthday.  We had a chance to Facetime with her for a short while before we boarded the flight from Dallas to Washington.

I had an interesting time trying to watch the movie on my iPad because it kept running low on battery and though there was a USB port at my plane seat, I couldn’t both hook up the recharger and also have sound come through my earphones.  Lynn has the fancy Apple airpods but I’ve just got the standard old earphones.  But I managed to get it all to work with just a few delays due to the recharging.

On both planes, everyone wore facemasks.  Lynn and I actually wore two, one cloth one and one KN95 one.  I think I needed that on the first flight because the guy beside me coughed several times.

Tomorrow we’ll get up early so we can see Thomas and Georgia before they got to school.  I’m not sure how quickly our bodies will return to Eastern time after two weeks on Pacific.  Shortly after they leave for school we’ll head home.

On the way we’ll be stopping at Red Truck Bakery in Marshall VA which is not far off I-66 to pick up a Shenandoah Apple Cake which Lynn won!  The bakery had a contest where they gave away six cakes to people who took part in their e-mail lottery.  Lucky Lynn was chosen.  Kay had bought me a Shenandoah Apple Cake one year for my birthday so we will enjoy this win.

I’ve got lots of CUMC Treasurer work to do when we get back.  Plus I have to get that PSA test retaken.  I may get to it tomorrow (Wednesday) but it could be done on Thursday if necessary.  My revised appointment with Dr. Gillock isn’t until Wednesday, September 22.

September 15, 2021

Home again, home again.  We got up early this morning to see Thomas and Georgia off to school, especially since yesterday was Georgia’s 9th birthday.  As soon as they left, Lynn and I packed our car and headed home.

It took us a while to get home, not because the traffic was bad, but because we made several stops.  First we stopped in Marshall VA at the Red Truck Bakery where we got a morning snack.  I had an apple donut with maple icing and Lynn had a piece of cake.  Their coffee was superb.  Lynn didn’t tell them she was one of the cake winners because they are mailing the cake to us anyway.

Next we stopped at Dollar Tree in Front Royal so Lynn could buy some wrapping paper.  Our next stop was in Harrisonburg at Aldi’s for some groceries.  Then we stopped at Overlook Produce in Bridgewater where we bought some tomatoes and corn.  Our last stop was at the post office where our mail had been held for two weeks.  We finally got home around noon.

Stopping at the grocery store in Harrisonburg showed us a stark difference between Virginia and Oregon.  At the Aldi’s, about half of the customers were mask-less.  That would not have happened in Oregon.  Apparently, Oregon has a mask mandate.  Virginia has a mask suggestion.  I appreciate Oregon’s approach much better.

Once home, I immediately headed to the Augusta Health Laboratory to get my PSA test re-done.  I was not happy to be returning there and let them know my displeasure.  As I wrote last week, I had a PSA test supposedly done on August 30 for my upcoming visit with Blue Ridge Urology which was supposed to have happened today.  But when I called last week to see my results, I was tod that they had done the wrong test—given me a Testosterone test instead of a PSA test.  Of course, there was finger pointing galore today when I told the lab of their mistake.  The receptionist said it must have been the fault of Blue Ridge Urology or the lab itself.  The lab technician blamed it on the receptionist.  I don’t know whose fault it was but I do know when I get billed for August 30 I will go through the roof.

Back home, I had to cut grass.  My front grass didn’t look that bad and I later learned that my wonderful neighbor Bee Myers had mowed it.  But the back was so high I thought it needed to be baled when I finished cutting it.

I got it cut just before Freddie and Betsy got off the bus.  We had them for longer than usual, actually almost three hours.  But it was good to see them again.  I got my usual whooping at Wii baseball, Wii golf, and outdoor around-the-world basketball though I did manage to win a game of PIG.   Freddie and I also tossed a baseball some so we went through the gamut of sports in one afternoon.

For dinner, Lynn made macaroni casserole and we had some of the fresh corn we bought at Overlook Produce.  By the time we finished it, I was worn out due to the time change.  After I washed the dishes and got the dishwasher going I was ready to shower and go to bed.

I do want to show the latest COVID-19 statistics now that I’m back home:

September 15      Infected                   Died

World             227,203,109           4,672,138

US                     42,465,860              684,890

Virginia                818,804                12,170  

Augusta County       8,715                       99   

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,204,734  (4,961,338 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 77.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        72,715  (37,159 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.2% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.   

Wow, in just two weeks Augusta County has added 1,400 new cases and 11 more deaths.  That’s so scary! There have only been 8,715 cases in two years but 1/6th of those have occurred in the past two weeks. 

September 16, 2001

It took us a while to get used to Pacific time so I thought it might likewise take a few days to get our bodies back in tune with Eastern time but I think we managed to do it in one day.  We were both exhausted and in bed before 9:00 last night.  Getting up at 6:30, it felt normal again.  I had to remind myself that 6:30 Eastern was 3:30 Pacific.

I had a frustrating morning because we had received notice that Dodson Exterminators would be here between 8:00 and 11:00 to do our annual maintenance for termites.  We had termite issues about 8 years ago but haven’t since so I think it is important to keep the annual visits from them.  I waited the entire time with no arrival from Dodson.  Finally at 11:05 I called them.  Would you believe in five minutes he showed up?  He didn’t find any evidence of termites which I thought would be the case because I hadn’t seen anything, either.

During those three hours, I was impatient because I knew I had tons of work to do at Central.  I occupied my time by doing various little things around the house and working on my pictures.  I selected almost 100 of my 900 Oregon pictures to put in my Favorite Pictures folder.  I have almost 57,000 pictures uploaded to Flickr and have picked almost 10,000 of them as my favorites.

I got to Central near noon and stayed until 2:30. The only thing I got done was taking care of the bills.  There were plenty of them to deal with—almost a dozen—and I didn’t get to other jobs that I put off until tomorrow.  Friday I’ll just go there early and stay until I am 100% caught up.

Lynn had her Cheryl friends over to chat this afternoon.  She worked this morning at two schools in Rockingham County.  She was likewise frustrated because a student she went to Spotswood High School to test was not there.

I had Freddie for about two hours.  He and I did the usual:  Wii golf, Wii tennis, outside basketball, and pitched baseball.  Henry and Gus came to pick him after their open gym basketball at FDHS.

I had a message to call Blue Ridge Urology today.  I did but the person who answered didn’t know the reason someone else had called.  She said that the results from my PSA test were back and she would have the doctor or his nurse call me to discuss them.  No one called.  Ugh!

Tonight, Lynn and I ate leftovers for dinner then headed for Smiley’s for dessert.  Afterwards we went to Costco for some shopping.  When we came home, we watched a recording of the Virginia Governor’s Debate between Terry McAuliff and Glen Youngkin.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 16      Infected                   Died

World             227,791,494           4,683,275

US                     42,628,885              688,462

Virginia                822,985                12,207  

Augusta County       8,819                       99   

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,226,850  (4,972,727 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 78.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        72,849  (37,217 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  

That’s over 4,000 new cases in Virginia in just one day with 100 of them in Augusta County.  At least Augusta didn’t have any new deaths.

September 17, 2021

I’m not sure why I’m continuing to write this but I admit it has helped me out.  For example, when I want to know when I did something in the past two years, I can probably find it.  Just today I wanted to know what I had written a year ago about PSA levels and I quickly found it.

PSA is on my mind because I called Blue Ridge Urology today and got the results from my test on Wednesday.  My PSA level hasn’t good, 7.24, so I’m betting Dr. Gillock will want to do something.  So far, after getting the biopsy a few years ago, he hasn’t given me any meds or suggested any treatments but that might change with this data.  So I wrote brother Butch an e-mail and asked him what he was now taking because I remembered he had been doing well with it.  He responded that he was taking Proscar, also known as Finasteride, to shrink his prostate and thus far it seemed to be working well for him.  His PSA is down to just 1.52 now.

I spent about five hours at Central today but got everything done in order to catch up from our Oregon trip.  Since we left home on September 1, Central’s bank statements for August hadn’t come when we left.  Yesterday I had taken care of all the bills including the credit cards.  So today I reconciled all four of the bank accounts.  That all went smoothly, thankfully.   Then I entered into Quickbooks the deposits made to the bank on September 6 and September 13 for the two previous Sundays.  Then I entered all of the personal givings into the software Servant Keeper (which is normally done by the administrative assistant but we have none now).   Finally, I recorded into a mail merge information for donations made to the Memorial Fund in memory of two Central members who recently passed away. 

I was home before Lynn.  She had gone to Plains Elementary School to test students and ended up being there longer than she anticipated.  I think she tested seven students in all, nearly all Kindergarteners.  She was only home for a few moments as she had to meet Juan Pablo in Waynesboro to tutor him.  Also, she took to him a box of food I had put together from Central’s Food Pantry.  I also put together a box for the Jiminez family which Elizabeth picked up from our house this afternoon.

Central has an interesting controversy going on.  The Staff Parish Committee recommended that the 2022 budget contain a 4% raise for our pastor, Won.  But Won passed along some recent information from the Virginia Conference which said that clergy couldn’t be given a raise unless they paid a certain percentage of the apportionment.  Central doesn’t meet that criteria.  2020 was hard for CUMC as it was for all churches and we only paid 46% of our apportionment.  I wrote to the District Superintendent today and asked him if we could at least give Won a cost of living increase and the answer I got back was no.  Won isn’t happy about this.  

Tomorrow is the big WVU – VT football game.  I’ve been wearing WVU shirts every day after we got back from Oregon.  Yes, I’ve done my trash talking already since we have two VT grads in the family, Jim and Josh.  WVU fans have to do their talking before the game because frequently we’re in hiding afterwards!  The game is a sell out and I have to wonder if it will be a COVID-19 superspreader event.  Lynn and I will be masked up for the game.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 17      Infected                   Died

World             228,317,778           4,691,831

US                     42,775,929              690,609

Virginia                827,197                12,242  

Augusta County       8,896                     101   

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,385,479  (5,066,266 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 79.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.4% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,069  (37,413 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.5% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  

September 18, 2021

Today was the first WVU football game we’ve been to in two years thanks to COVID.  It was a big one, WVU vs No. 15 Virginia Tech at Morgantown.  We got up before 6:00 AM and were on the road by 6:40 for the noon kickoff.

Our drive there couldn’t have been any better.  For the most part, we had the road to ourselves until we got near Morgantown.  The weather was perfect and the scenery, especially on US 48, was spectacular.  We made a couple of bathroom stops but still pulled into Suncrest Town Center at 10:30.  Suncrest Town Center has free parking is only a 1.3 mile walk to the stadium.

Our seats for this game (and for the other two we’re going to see, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State) were fantastic.  They were on the 50 yard line in a section that is below the press box.  This means that beginning with the second quarter we had shade.  It was appreciated on a hot day.

Now for the game:  the Mountaineers started out like gangbusters, holding Virginia Tech on their first possession then running back Leddie Brown burst open for an 80 yard touchdown.  Again WVU held and this time a long pass worked and soon WVU was up 14 – 0.  They went up 21 – 7 still in the first half, held Tech when they got in the red zone, then marched up field and got a first down on the 2 yard line.  They should have run it in but they tried three passing attempts, none of which worked, so they settled for a 24  – 7 halftime lead.  It should have been 28 – 7.  This almost came back to haunt them.

VT did much better in the second half.  WVU got a field goal but VT scored on the last play of the third quarter to make the score 27 – 14.  Then they scored again to make it 27 – 21.  WVU needed to get a few first downs and run out the clock but, typical of Mountaineer football, they did the opposite.  On third down from their 25, the quarterback threw an interception which Tech ran back to the 17 yard line with less than three minutes to go.  They marched to the 4 yard line with two minutes to go and had a first down.  I was beside myself as I could see Tech scoring in the last few seconds to take a 28 – 27 win but the WVU defense came through and stuffed Tech four straight times.  So WVU won 27 – 21 but it wasn’t much to be proud of because we practically handed the game to VT at the end.  Lynn and I enjoyed singing Country Roads at the end of the game.

We then walked back to our car and drove to Apple Annie’s, our favorite Morgantown restaurant.  It was hard to believe it had been two years since we had been there.  We ate a good dinner since we had very little lunch (only yogurt) and bought some items there for tomorrow’s breakfast.

We then drove to Bridgeport, about 30 miles south of Morgantown, where the Hilton Garden Inn was that we were to stay.  We checked in then did some shopping at Gabes and WalMart.  We also found an ice cream store, Farm House, and got our dessert there.  Finally we picked up some sweet tea from Chick Fil-A and got back to the hotel around 8:30.

Mask wearing is very sparse in West Virginia.  At the football game, Lynn and I wore ours.  I saw fewer than ten others wearing masks out of the crowd of 60,000.  I’m glad we’re safe.  It’s no wonder COVID-19 is still rampant.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

September 18      Infected                   Died

World             228,906,837           4,699,137

US                     42,866,676              691,561

Virginia                827,197                12,242  Not updated on weekends.

Augusta County       8,896                     101   Not updated on weekends.

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,430,283  (4,999,139 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,252  (37,019 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.0% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  

We did get some good news last night about COVID-19.  The FDA approved booster shots for all over 65.  The CDC is expected to approve this by mid-week which means perhaps by the end of next week Lynn and I will get our third shot.  I hope so.

September 19, 2021

We checked out of the Hilton Garden Inn in Bridgeport early today and headed for Tomaro’s Bakery in Clarksburg.  This is a longtime favorite of ours.  Their feature is pepperoni rolls and they are always open on Sunday mornings.  Sure enough, when we pulled up to their store today the line was already halfway up the block with people waiting for theirs.

We got plenty—18 regular sized pepperoni rolls, a dozen mini pepperoni rolls, and a dozen dinner rolls for tonight’s dinner.  We had some BBQ from Central waiting at home so the dinner rolls would be used with it.  We also got two hot pepperoni rolls for lunch though we didn’t eat them for a few hours.

We then headed home.  Google Maps told us to go to Elkins and take US 33 from there which runs you through Franklin WV.  It is a very twisty road for part of the way.  On the otherhand, the new section of US 48 doesn’t connect well to any road in the center of the state but it is such a beautiful road to drive on, four lanes with virtually zero traffic.  So we took back roads from Bridgeport to Davis WV where we got on US 48 for a nice drive through the center of the state.

On our way we stopped in Thomas WV, just three miles from Davis, which is a neat little town with eclectic stores including three coffee shops.   We bought some cookies from one of the coffee shops. 

The remainder of the drive was easy.  Our next stop was at Aldi’s in Harrisonburg where Lynn got some potato chips for dinner tonight.  We then went to Kroger and bought some cole slaw for the BBQ and some yogurt for her.  We made it home around 1:30 in the afternoon.

The afternoon was spent catching up.  Lynn did laundry, as she always does.  We were ready for the Gutshalls when they got to our house for dinner.  Everyone except Henry came.  Betsy and Ann came straight from Betsy’s performance in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Wintergreen.  Poor Betsy had one show Friday night, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday (the Thursday night show was rained out).  She arrived exhausted as would be expected.  Fortunately Augusta County Schools has a teacher workday tomorrow so she can sleep in.  Ann, on the otherhand, can’t and she’s been at Wintergreen with Betsy nearly the whole time.   Plus, Betsy is auditioning for another show this Tuesday so she remains one busy gal!  I’m looking forward to September 30 when she turns 12 so she can be vaccinated.

I got an e-mail today which showed a 360o panoramic view of the WVU football stadium yesterday.  It was a full house with most everyone wearing gold shirts as it was listed as a “Gold Rush” date.  In other words, someone suggested that everyone wear gold and nearly everybody did.  Strange how others have said that we should wear masks at all indoor or crowded sites but people don’t because they don’t want someone to tell them what to do.  What irony!  They’ll wear a gold shirt but not a mask!  In the panoramic picture you can zoom in so, of course, I did to find Lynn and me.  We were easy to find—we were the ones wearing masks.

Tonight after dinner I played a bunch with Freddie.  We hit tennis balls for a while then played Wii downstairs.  I really enjoy the special time I have with him. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 19      Infected                   Died

World             229,260,563           4,704,927

US                     42,900,813              691,878

Virginia                827,197                12,242  Not updated on weekends.

Augusta County       8,896                     101   Not updated on weekends.

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,454,696  (50,012,733 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,415  (37,106 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  

September 20, 2021

It took me five hours at Central today to get all my work done there.  I had a deposit to record, bills to pay, a letter to write and print, and some work to be done on the 2022 budget.  I think I got everything done that I can do for a few days so I shouldn’t have to go back for a while.

Meanwhile, Lynn got frustrated with the two jobs she had to do.  She was supposed to test a student at Turner Ashby High School but it turns out the student didn’t come to school.  Lynn had driven there to test the girl first thing in the morning to no avail.  This afternoon she was supposed to have tutored Juan Pablo but he called that session off so her day was basically ruined by two high schoolers.  At least she had time this afternoon to gab with her two good friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright.

CNN reported today that “In a highly anticipated announcement, Pfizer said on Monday a Phase 2/3 trial showed its Covid-19 vaccine was safe and generated a “robust” antibody response in children ages 5 to 11.  These are the first such results released for this age group for a US Covid-19 vaccine, and the data has not yet been peer-reviewed or published. Pfizer said it plans to submit to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization soon. FDA officials have said that once data is submitted, the agency could authorize a vaccine for younger children in a matter of weeks.”  I believe that Kay and Andy will choose to get Thomas and Georgia vaccinated, Ann and Josh will also want Freddie to get the vaccine and I hope Jim and Morgan will do the same with Faron.   Coen is too young and Betsy will turn twelve in just 10 days and will get it soon thereafter.  Of course, Henry and Gus are already vaccinated.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of taking Betsy to her dance class in Staunton.  Today was a teacher workday for Augusta County Schools but not for Rockingham County.  This way I could help out Ann and Josh with their shuttle bus riding from one place to another.

Afterwards Lynn and I ate a quick dinner then headed to Waynesboro.  There we walked on Waynesboro’s South River Greenway.  It was a two mile hike.  The weather was nice and we celebrated by going to Cook Out and getting milkshakes.  One of Lynn’s favorites was on sale at 99¢, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  Then we went to Aldi’s for some groceries and returned home.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 20      Infected                   Died

World             229,702,255           4,711,149

US                     43,028,286              693,141

Virginia                 836,140                12,312  First update since last Friday.

Augusta County         9,123                     101   First update since last Friday

            Vaccinated

Virginia          10,466,754  (50,019,175 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.8% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,459  (37,130 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

Since last Friday, Augusta County has had 227 new cases of COVID-19.  Wow!  Thankfully, there have been no more deaths.

September 21, 2021

I got my tennis racket back out after a couple week layoff this morning.  Won, Pat, Marc, and I returned to the Mary Baldwin University courts early today.  We only played two sets but it took us two hours.  Marc and I played together both sets.  We won the first one 6 – 4.  We fell behind 5 – 1 in the second then rallied to tie it.  Then we went back and forth until the score was 8 – 8.  At that point, Won and Pat won a few more points than Marc and me and we ended up splitting sets.  All of us had some good shots.  The weather was perfect.  So it was a good time had by all!

I felt ambitious after that so I came home, made a trash run, got some gas for my lawn mower, then cut the grass.  I didn’t finish until 1:00 but the timing was good because it started raining shortly afterwards. 

Lynn worked a lot today.  She started off at Lacey Spring Elementary School where she had to test a student then she went to McGaheysville Elementary School to help a newly hired ELL teacher.  She didn’t get home until close to 3:00.

We chose to stay home and have leftovers for dinner and not go anywhere for dessert or entertainment tonight.  Frankly, I was a little tired as I had collected my 10,000 steps by 1:00 today.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 21      Infected                   Died

World             230,244,642           4,721,224

US                     43,220,624              696,694

Virginia                 839,475                12,364  Over 3,000 new cases!

Augusta County         9,164                     101   

            Vaccinated  (For some reason, this data was not updated today)

Virginia          10,466,754  (50,019,175 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 58.8% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,459  (37,130 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

September 22, 2021

Today was a rainy day all day long.  At least the next five or so days have a dry forecast but today our well got refilled nicely.  It was also the first day of fall and the fall temperatures are coming.  Over the next few nights the temperatures are supposed to fall in the 40’s with highs in the 70’s during the day.  Looking ahead, Lynn and I will be leaving on Friday for St. Clairsville OH (actually a small town called Barnesville OH) for the pumpkin festival.  The weather looks OK for it.

Neither one of us had any jobs to do today.  We did make a run to Costco in the morning where Lynn got some items as a bargain and I got a few items for Central UMC.  We were back before lunchtime.

My big event today was an appointment with Blue Ridge Urology.  This is the appointment that I needed the PSA test done that the Augusta Health lab messed up earlier in the month.  The appointment went fairly well today.  I was concerned because my PSA number was higher than it has ever been but Dr. Gillock reminded me that it was still within the range of concern but not panic.  Plus, I found out that another statistic from the lab report, my PSA Percent Free was in the good range.  I’ve read lots about PSA testing.  It is a test to alert you to the possibility of prostate cancer but it is not an exact science.  In my case, my PSA value was high but so was my PSA Percent Free value so Dr. Gillock said the best next step for me is to get an MRI.  That should let us know for sure what’s going on.  So I will be having an MRI at Rockingham Sentara Hospital some time in the next few weeks. 

I discussed with him the only manifestations I’ve seen of the enlarged prostate gland; namely, I have to urinate more often and have trouble completely emptying my bladder.  He prescribed a medicine for me, Flomax, also known as Tamsulosin, which should help.

I got back home from my doctor’s appointment well before Freddie’s bus came.  Actually Betsy and Freddie both came to our house today.  Betsy is currently auditioning for a part in a Christmas musical in addition to singing in the choir in the show Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Wintergreen.  She is a busy girl!

Freddie and I played our normal Wii games where I tried to beat him at baseball, golf, and bowling.  I was unsuccessful at all though the bowling was very, very close.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 22      Infected                   Died

World             230,825,510           4,731,484

US                     43,394,493              699,622   Over 2,000 deaths per day again!

Virginia                 843,212                12,409   Almost 4,000 new cases!

Augusta County         9,220                     104   Three new deaths since yesterday      

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,455,903  (5,085,538 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 79.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.6% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,548  (37,610 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.8% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

I waited all day to hear news about the booster shot for Pfizer vaccinated people age 65 and over.  For it to be made widely available, both the FDA and the CDC needed to approve this.  Late today the FDA formally approved the emergency use authorization for it.  Now the CDC must also approve it.  They meet tomorrow.  Lynn and I had hoped to get our booster by the end of the week but that might not happen, it seems.  Maybe next week… 

September 23, 2021

The big news today is that the CDC did approve the booster shot those 65 and over plus those with compromised conditions today.  It didn’t happen until late in the day so although we tried to get some specifics locally as to when we could get ours, we didn’t find out anything.  It will likely be next week when we get it.  We’re leaving early tomorrow morning so we can’t wait around for an open spot.

Tomorrow we’re going to Barnesville OH, just west of Wheeling WV, to their Pumpkin Festival.  Besides walking in a 5K, I’m not sure what else we’ll do.  I’m sure Lynn will want to check out the arts and crafts associated with this festival.  It’s over a five hour drive so we won’t be getting there until early afternoon at best.

Because of the rain, we set our Thursday tennis at 11:30 today.  That meant I had time to go to Central and take care of a couple of bills first thing.  This didn’t take me long. 

Tennis was good again today.  Our foursome consisted of Marc, Won, Darrell Miller, and me.  I won two of the three sets but dropped the third when I partnered with Darrell.  We had an early lead but couldn’t hold it.  It felt good to play no matter what the score was.  The weather was nice and so was the tennis.

After tennis I picked up a prescription from Kroger then came home.  Lynn left soon thereafter to interpret for a student session at her old elementary school, Cub Run Elementary, but the student didn’t show for the meeting. 

Meanwhile, I was here when Freddie’s bus got here.  He and I didn’t have much time because I had agreed to pick up Betsy at her house and take her to her ballet class at 4:15 today.  Freddie and I picked her up at home and had her there on time. 

At 5:30 Henry came by and picked up Freddie.  He returned around 6:15, as we had arranged, to work on Calculus problems.  He had a set of them due tonight.  We were done with all of them before 7:30.  I’m amazed at how quickly some of this Calculus comes back to me; I haven’t taught it since 1989.  With his problem set, given on his Chromebook, he and I both work the problem and we compare answers.  He is doing really well so far so he and I agreed on almost every answer the first time we worked it.  The software checks his answers; he got all of them correct.  There were around 30 in all. 

I thought back tonight of when I was in his seat, learning Calculus for the first time.  He is a high school junior; I was a college freshman.  However, I was only one year older than he is at the time because I started college at age 17.  He is now 16.  Calculus was a struggle for me because 1) I had only a so-so background in math from Bramwell High School  2) the college textbook was very hard to read and understand and 3) my professor was new to the US from India and spoke English very poorly.  But I worked hard and learned it.  Thirteen years later I was asked to teach it at Turner Ashby High School.  This time I had a great textbook, Calculus by Larson & Hostetler, and had a summer to prepare for it.  I worked every problem in the book over the summer.  By the time school opened in the fall, I was ready.

As soon as Henry left, Lynn and I headed for Smiley’s where she got a mint chocolate chip milkshake and I had my usual cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.

When I look up the daily COVID-19 statistics, I see a graph of the number of cases over time.  There is a large hump where cases maxed out in mid-December 2020 then slowed remarkably until the Delta variant kicked in around July.  Now the hump is back higher than ever.  There is a possibility that it is on its way back down now; time will tell.  At any rate, here are the statistics for today:

September 23      Infected                   Died

World             231,352,880           4,431,603

US                     43,529,377              702,964   Over 3,000 deaths per day again!

Virginia                 846,979                12,463   Almost 4,000 new cases!

Augusta County         9,294                     105   Over 70 new cases since yesterday   

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,470,868  (5,093,688 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 79.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.7% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,734  (37,716 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 49.9% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

September 24, 2021

Today was spent largely in the car driving from home to Barnesville, OH for the Pumpkin Festival.  We left home around 8:00 AM, made four stops including bathroom breaks, gas, and lunch, and arrived at our hotel in St. Clairsville OH around 2:00 pm.  From the Fairfield Inn in St. Clairsville it was about a 25 minute drive to Barnesville.

The drive was beautiful.  The trees haven’t quite changed yet but the air was crystal clear and the temperature was around 62o.   It was a very nice day to travel.  We didn’t have a single car in front of us from Fulks Run all the way to Baker WV where we got on the four lane US 48.

The route today was most interesting giving West Virginia’s geography.  We were routed through Morgantown then to Wheeling which is just across the Ohio River from St. Clairsville.  But to get here, we started in Virginia, drove through West Virginia, then into Maryland to get on I-68, then back into West Virginia near Morgantown, then into Pennsylvania north of Morgantown, then back into West Virginia through Wheeling, and finally to Ohio.

Barnesville is a small town with a 3,500 population.  But it was the place to be today for the Pumpkin Festival.  There must have been twenty food trucks, a typical carnival with rides, two craft rooms, and lots of people walking around without masks.  You could eat most anything bad for you in Barnesville today.  The only thing Lynn and I ate were ice cream cones. 

After checking out the crafts, taking some pictures of the huge, award winning pumpkins, we headed back east.  On the way, we made dinner reservations at Figaretti’s Italian Restaurant in Wheeling.  Lynn and I had eaten there before.  It didn’t disappoint.  She had homemade ravioli and I had the kind sized prime rib.  Our total bill was only $35.  We both had to bring home food we couldn’t eat.  Fortunately our room at the Fairfield Inn had two refrigerators.

When we got back to the hotel Lynn wanted to walk some.  So we walked across the street to the large Ohio Valley Mall.  We spent nearly an hour walking around it.  Then we drove to a nearby Kroger and got some junk food before returning to the hotel to call it a night.

One funny article in today’s news is that the report of the Republican-led “recount” of Arizona’s Maricopa County’s votes from the 2020 election by the biased group Cyber Ninjas was released today.  It actually had Biden gaining 99 more votes and Trump losing 261 more!  I’ll bet the wealthy Republicans who financed this are fit to be tied!  No one trusted this recount anyway but it was shocking that they didn’t come back with an outlandish claim that Trump had actually won the state.  Instead they ended up certifying that the actual count was correct and Biden was the legitimate winner.

Other big news for us today is that we were able to sign up for our booster shot at Augusta Health.  Lynn was on top of this from the get-go this morning.  We are registered to get our third Pfizer shot at 8:20 Monday morning.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 24      Infected                   Died

World             231,860,915           4,750,443

US                     43,665,772              705,237   Over 2,000 deaths per day again!

Virginia                 849,865                12,511   Almost 3,000 new cases

Augusta County         9,341                     108   Three new deaths since yesterday      

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,484,719  (5,101,140 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 79.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.8% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,814  (37,766 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 50.0% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now. 

September 25, 2021

This day began with us walking a 5K race in Ohio and ended with me watching the WVU – Oklahoma football game in my basement.  We got up early and drove the 25 miles from our hotel to Barnesville OH where the Pumpkin Festival 5K was held.

This race was much different than the others we’ve done this year.  For one thing, it was much larger.  I think I heard the organizer say there were 380 registrants.  I’d say it was evenly divided between runners and walkers.  But some of the walkers here were as competitive as the runners.  Indeed, the organizer warned the walkers before they left that they were not allowed to run.  Some walked in the Olympic-style walk, swinging their arms, etc.  Lynn and I just vowed to not be last.  We weren’t; in fact, I’d say we were in the middle of the walking pack.  Our time, 53:05, was faster than our time at the two previous 5K’s this year.  The course was primarily flat and the weather was cool but nice.

It took an hour to do the walk; it took much longer for the awards ceremony.  They had trophies and pumpkin awards for nearly everyone, it seemed.  Even I got an award for being in 5th place in the 70 and over among the walkers.  Yet Lynn, who finished with me, didn’t get one though she did win a door prize.  It reminded me of the little league teams where everyone gets a trophy.

Another interesting thing about this 5K is the food.  They had all kinds of food for the runners/walkers:  pepperoni rolls, pasta salad, cookies, fruit, pizza, and drinks.  We ate so much we didn’t stop on the way home for lunch.

We were on our way home around 11:30.  The ride was over five hours plus a couple of stops including an ice creamery in Deep Creek Lake, PA.  We got home around 5:30.   Lynn went to the grocery store to get things for Sunday’s dinner while I worked on backing up my pictures from the weekend.

I spent the rest of the night watching the football game.  The Mountaineers were 16 point underdogs so I didn’t have high expectations.  They did score first but Oklahoma quickly got their game going and tied it.  But the rest of the first half was back and forth with scores until the Mountaineers got a field goal as time expired to take a 10 – 7 lead at halftime.

Oklahoma opened the second half with a long drive to the WVU 5 yard line but the Mountaineer defense stiffened and Oklahoma had to settle for a field goal to tie the score, 10 – 10.  WVU countered with a drive of its own, ending in a field goal, to take a 13 – 10 lead.  Early in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma drove again only to have to settle for a tying field goal.  So with 8:52 to go, WVU got the ball in a 13 – 13 game.  WVU drove to the 30 yard line but then a bad snap cost them a 21 yard loss so they ended up punting to Oklahoma with 3:52 to go.  As expected, Oklahoma then marched down the field within field goal range with under a minute to go.  They ended up on the 11 yard line and called time out with one second to go.  Their field goal kicker then came in and kicked the winning field goal as time expired.  It was Oklahoma’s first lead of the entire game.  The Mountaineers played well but came up empty handed again.  They have not beaten Oklahoma since joining the Big 12 Conference.   Final score:  Oklahoma 16, WVU 13.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 25      Infected                   Died

World             232,245,327           4,756,472

US                     43,725,604              706,058  

Virginia                 849,865                12,511   Data not updated since this is a weekend.

Augusta County         9,341                     108   Data not updated since this is a weekend.

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,503,842  (5,111,371 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 59.9% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        73,986  (37,859 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 50.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Today is the first day since the pandemic started that more than half of Augusta County’s population has been vaccinated.  Of course, no one under age 12 can be at this point.

September 26, 2021

This was almost a normal Sunday.  The only thing missing was attending church.  Apparently Pastor Won worked with a member of Central at Wednesday’s Food Pantry and later learned that this man, John Hildebrand, tested positive for COVID-19.  So Won was directly exposed to it.  Both he and John were fully vaccinated and I believe John is doing OK now.  But Won was hesitant to lead Sunday morning worship since he was exposed to COVID on Wednesday so he called off church this morning.

Interestingly, he played tennis with me last Thursday morning.  However, we were outside and never that close.

So, Lynn and I had the day for ourselves.  It was a beautiful day and we decided to go to Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville to get apples.  That was a great decision.  We ended up taking two cars as Ann, Henry, Betsy, and Freddie also went.  Showalter’s had apples for $22 per bushel for already picked ones and $20 per half bushel if you picked them yourself.  I thought this was an unusual pricing scheme and, especially since we were somewhat in a hurry because Lynn had bread cooking in her bread machine, we opted for the already picked ones.  They had our two most favorite apples:  honey crisp and golden delicious.  We got a bushel of each.  Plus we got some of their delicious cider.  The honey crisp apples we sampled were exceptionally large, sweet, and crisp.  Double yum!  We’ll be enjoying our apples for weeks and weeks now.

When we got back home, Lynn started cooking for dinner.  Meanwhile, I went to Kroger in Staunton to get a few needed groceries.  Curiously, there I saw Kroger had on sale two packages of ice cream sandwiches:  salted caramel and mudslide.  The brand was Tillamook.  Just two weeks ago we were at the Tillamook headquarters in Oregon and had the very same two kinds of ice cream.

Ann’s family came over around 5:30. We had a very good meal then the kids played downstairs.  They had brought over their old Wii sets and connected them to our big screen tv.  All four of them could play simultaneously and all were skilled enough that no one dominated play.  It was lots of fun watching them compete at a Mario game.

Tomorrow is such a big day for Lynn and me.  We get our booster shots at 8:20 AM.  I need to be at Central to count by 9:00 though there won’t be much to count since we didn’t have a church service today.  Then, in the afternoon, I’ll help with the Food Pantry delivery at CUMC, be here for Freddie at 3:15, take him to his house and pick up Betsy at 3:45, and take her to dance in Staunton.  I’m glad I can help out.  It gives me a sense of worth, too.

I’m proud of my frugalness today.  Several weeks ago I had made a reservation for Lynn and me in Moab, UT for one night we’ll be in Utah in a few weeks.  The cost was $237 per night at the time I made it.  I checked again and discovered that I could book it for less now.  Better yet, since we are within 30 days of the stay I could use points for the stay.  So I canceled the original reservation and rebooked it with points. We went from paying $237 for the night to paying nothing!

Since mid-September, the number of COVID-19 cases has dropped somewhat in the US.  Perhaps we’re past the worst though there is an ever-present threat, especially locally where our vaccination rate lags that of the rest of the US.  We’re still way higher for the number of cases per day that we were in June before the Delta variant took over. 

Here’s a Facebook post I totally agree with:  It continues to amaze me how many people are convinced that a vaccine has helped MILLIONS OF PEOPLE will kill them, and that a virus that HAS killed millions of people won’t.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 26      Infected                   Died

World             232,576,781           4,761,524

US                     43,750,983              706,317               

Virginia                 849,865                12,511   Data not updated since this is a weekend.

Augusta County         9,341                     108   Data not updated since this is a weekend.

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,514,758  (5,117,614 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.0% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,045  (37,891 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But that still is only 50.1% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

September 27, 2021

Yippee!  Lynn and I got our third Pfizer shot this morning at Augusta Health.  They have the process streamlined now, thanks to lots of volunteers, so we were in and out quickly.  I didn’t mind this at all and if there’s need of a regular booster every few months count me in.

After that I spent four hours at Central doing treasurer’s work.  Actually lots of what I did was secretary’s work since we have no secretary yet.  I mail merged and printed 23 thank you letters to people who gave a memorial gift in memory of Paul Obaugh and prepared each of them to be signed by Won and mailed, including mailing labels.  I also did our weekly deposit, which was small since we didn’t have a service yesterday, and paid a few bills.

This afternoon I had Freddie.  First we took Betsy to her dance in Staunton.  Then we came home and played some Wii-U games he and his brothers brought over last night.  Of course, he annihilated me in the competition.  I certainly wasn’t trying to lose but his skills far exceed mine at games like this.

Tonight, after dinner, Lynn and I took a box of food to Juan Pablo.  I had brought home two large boxes of food from Central’s Food Lion ministry this afternoon, one for Juan Pablo and one for Elizabeth’s family.  Lynn is going to take the second box to her family tomorrow, I think.

After that, we decided to take advantage of Smiley’s flavors of the week.  Lynn loves chocolate peanut butter which was one of the week’s specials so we got her a milkshake of it.  I had my standard:  salted caramel chocolate chunk in a waffle cone.  Yum!

CNN had a sad story today about West Virginia’s poor state of affairs regarding COVID-19.  Here are some excerpts from their story:

West Virginia had been a success story for vaccinations. Back in early March, West Virginia ranked in the top four in terms of the adult population that was vaccinated. The state and Gov. Jim Justice received widespread praise for its vaccine rollout.

Now, West Virginia ranks last in the country for the percentage of the adult population that is fully vaccinated. Just 48% of adults are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This makes West Virginia the only state in the country where less than half the adult population is fully vaccinated.

The slowness with which West Virginians have taken up the vaccine comes despite a governor who has been begging people to get it. The problem is that Justice has been overwhelmed by the demographic and political fundamentals that have plagued the vaccination effort throughout the country. Once vaccines became more plentiful nationally, it became less about how good states (and leadership) were at giving out vaccines and more about whether people were willing to take them.

The issue starts with politics. West Virginia is one of the most Republican states in the country. Former President Donald Trump won the state by nearly 40 points in 2020. The only state that he won by more was Wyoming, which ranks in the bottom three for adult vaccination as well.

As I’ve previously noted, the correlation between the vaccination rates in states and how those states voted in the 2020 election has only become stronger over time.

Less noted is that education rates have also been highly correlated with vaccination rates. Indeed, the states in the top 25 for college-educated adults have on average about 10 points more of their adult population vaccinated compared to the states in the bottom 25 for college-educated adults.  West Virginia has fewer adults with a college degree than any state in the nation.

Perhaps more unbelievably, the low rate of vaccination has continued in September. A lower portion of the Mountaineer State’s adult population has gotten their first Covid-19 dose this month than any other state in the nation.

There are 95 new daily cases per 100,000 residents on the weekly average in West Virginia. Alaska is the one state with more cases, and it’s in the top half for new adult vaccinations this month.

West Virginia also is the worst in the country in current hospitalizations. Second is Kentucky, which is in the top five for new adult vaccinations this month.

West Virginia also has the third most deaths over the last week controlling for population size. The two states with a higher death rate (Alabama and Florida) are in the top half for new vaccinations.

What Justice and West Virginia are teaching us is that politics is trumping public health, even when things are truly dire.  That doesn’t mean that leaders can’t try to move the electorate. It’s just that you can’t make certain people do what they don’t want to do, no matter how bad things get.

The CDC said today that the are only days away from asking for approval for their vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds.  Betsy turns 12 this Thursday so she’ll get hers but today’s news will affect Faron, Thomas, Freddie, and Georgia.  Only Coen will be unvaccinated if this works out.  CNN also had a story about successful antivirals in clinical trials now that are administered once COVID-19 has been detected. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 27      Infected                   Died

World             233,006,820           4,767,678

US                     43,886,822              707,740               

Virginia                 857,852                12,592   8,000 new cases since last Friday.

Augusta County         9,406                     108   60 new cases since last Friday.

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,532,362  (5,127,636 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.1% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,161  (37,958 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But that still is only 50.2% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

September 28, 2021

A Facebook post from Dr. Ashish Jha, who regularly reports on ABC TV, is that the United States is currently 40th internationally in the percent of its population fully vaccinated.  Portugal leads the world at 84%.  Canada has 71%.  Cambodia has 65%.  The US has only 55% of its population fully vaccinated.  Why?  The answer is in one word:  stupidity.

Today was another tennis day for me.  It is interesting how close my matches have been lately.  Last Thursday, Marc and I split two sets with Won and Pat, 6 – 4 and 6 – 8.  Today we played the same teams.  Marc and I won the first set 8 – 6 then we quit the second set with the score 8 – 8.  That took us two hours to play.

Lynn had a busier day than I did today.  She had a Zoom meeting this morning (though the parent didn’t show up), a haircut, and a luncheon with other retired Cub Run Elementary teachers.  I had a Central UMC Finance meeting in the afternoon via Zoom, took Betsy to her dance in Staunton after school, and a Council meeting at night, also via Zoom.  Between those last two events she and I met Ann and Wes Ford at Smiley’s for ice cream.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 28      Infected                   Died

World             233,504,982           4,777,698

US                     44,040,220              711,154               

Virginia                 860,493                12,647   2,500 new cases since yesterday.

Augusta County         9,419                     110   2 new deaths since yesterday.

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,544,780  (5,134,276 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.2% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,258  (37,994 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  Wow, Portugal is much, much better off than Augusta County in getting its people vaccinated.

September 29, 2021

I’m finishing up today feeling good about all I’ve accomplished.  First, I walked in our neighborhood with Lynn shortly after breakfast.  She had a 9:00 Zoom interpreting session and while she did that I did various chores around the house I’d put on the back burner.  As soon as she finished with her Zoom meeting with a parent and a teacher, we headed for Costco.  There, Lynn got a new air fryer and I got a lot of things for Central that I’d been asked to get for both the Food Pantry and the custodian Janet. 

After we came home, I jumped on my lawn mower and got the grass cut.  I also did weed whacking, finishing just after 1:00.  I immediately grabbed a bite of lunch and headed for Central to deliver the Costco goods and pay bills.  I got everything done there in about an hour and got home in plenty of time to meet Freddie’s bus.

Not only was Freddie on the bus, so was Betsy.  And a few minutes later Henry and Gus drove up.  Henry had asked me if I could help him with math this week and I told him today was the only day I could since tomorrow we have Betsy’s show.  So we had all four Gutshall kids here.  Lynn did some things with Betsy while Gus and Freddie played on the Wii-U downstairs and Henry and I did Calculus problems.  I don’t really help Henry with his math; he is quite capable of doing it himself.  He has weekly problem assignments that are presented by and answered on his Chromebook.  So when we do the problems we both work them and compare our answers.  If we agree, he enters them into the Chromebook and they are immediately checked by the software.  Rarely do we disagree.  And when we do, half of the time I’ve made a careless mistake and the other half of the time he has.  I enjoy doing these problems with him.

After he finished, he also played some of the Wii-U games downstairs with his siblings then he took everyone home.  That was convenient for Ann and Josh and us as well.  They were home shortly after 5:00.  At that point, Lynn and I went to Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike for our weekly hamburgers.  As always, they were delicious.

After we finished dinner, Lynn cut my hair.  She does a fine job cutting it and I greatly appreciate her work.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

September 29      Infected                   Died

World             233,965,796           4,786,640

US                     44,155,034              713,572               

Virginia                 863,644                12,696   3,200 new cases since yesterday.

Augusta County         9,396                     109   Cases & death reclassified since yesterday.

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,544,140  (5,138,921 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.2% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,320  (38,028 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now. 

September 30, 2021

This post will be short because I didn’t get a chance to start on it until almost 11:30 at night, far past my normal bedtime.  The reason is that Lynn and I spent a great evening tonight at Wintergreen Resort’s outdoor theatre watching Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat which had a children’s choir in it with Betsy.  The show was really cute.  The singers in it, except for the children’s choir and a few in the ensemble, were professionals.  They were fantastic.  The music was catchy as the story retold the Biblical story of Joseph and his brothers.  Of course, we thought Betsy did wonderfully.

Today was her 12th birthday.  She rode the bus to our house with Freddie.  After she got here, Freddie and I went downstairs to play Wii-U.  He said something to me about having a treasure hunt for Betsy’s present.  Oops, it hit me that I had neglected to put one together.  So I told him to play a game on the Wii by himself while I came up with one for Betsy.  In no time I had altered an old one I had done for Gus’s birthday which worked wonderfully.  Lynn had gotten some clothes from Ann for her which were quickly stashed in the last of the treasure hunt locations so she found them when she had figured out all of the clues.

I had come up with the idea of this treasure hunt using the font Wingdings which substitutes a symbol for each letter of the alphabet.  So I could create a card like “your next clue is in the  DINING ROOM in a DRAWER.”  She was given a key to follow with the 26 symbols used by Wingdings.  She had to figure out, given the context, what letter each of the symbols stood for in order to decipher each clue (in the example above, DINING ROOM in a DRAWER).  She did fine with it.

I had begun my day with tennis.  Marc and I played together again and this time we beat Pat and Won in two straight sets.  Marc played especially well while I played normal but Won and Pat had off days.  After we played those two sets, we switched partners.  Won and I were playing together at 3 – 3 in our third set when Marc did something to his hip.  He could barely walk to get off the court and into his car.  Poor fellow!  He was really in pain as he left Mary Baldwin.

After tennis, I went to the dump, stopping at Ann’s house to get their trash, too.  Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over to chat while sitting in the Pergola.  When they had gone, we had a quik lunch then drove to Harrisonburg for some quick shopping.  Among other things, we got cupcakes for all of the Gutshall family and us to celebrate Betsy’s birthday.  We had to be back in time for the school bus and we made it with time to spare.

September 30      Infected                   Died

World             234,559,779           4,797,310

US                     44,314,424              716,847               

Virginia                 866,766                12,750   3,100 new cases since yesterday.

Augusta County         9,421                     109  

            Vaccinated 

Virginia          10,568,255  (5,145,939 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 80.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 60.3% of the total population fully vaccinated)       

            Augusta County        74,320  (38,028 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.  Plus, Lynn and I have our third booster shot.)    But that still is only 50.3% of the Augusta County population which is fully vaccinated now.  These numbers didn’t change from yesterday; I’m not sure why.

August 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

August 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 1              Infected                   Died

World             198,972,179           4,239,621

US                     35,768,924              629,380

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

August 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

August 2              Infected                   Died

World             199,547,478           4,247,939

US                     35,884,940              629,840

Virginia                697,939                11,534

Augusta County       6,055                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

August 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:’

August 3              Infected                   Died

World             200,231,329           4,258,303

US                     36,048,572              630,493

Virginia                699,342                11,536

Augusta County       6,065                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

August 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 4              Infected                   Died

World             200,930,643           4,268,898

US                     36,175,613              631,299

Virginia                701,059                11,541

Augusta County       6,073                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

August 5, 2021

After contemplating the matter overnight, I decided this morning that I really couldn’t accept the offer to teach Betsy’s 7th grade math class.  Although they only wanted me to fill in until someone else could be found, I already have way too much on my calendar that I’d have to give up or alter.  Plus, although I would enjoy the teaching part, I would not enjoy managing math classes of 7th graders and grading papers.  On my way to Staunton early this morning I called the principal of Stewart Middle, Mike Connor, and told him.  He understood.

I played four sets of tennis this morning.  I guess I played OK, not great, and won two of the four sets.  The four of us:  Won, Marc, Pat, and I are pretty evenly matched though our styles of play vary greatly.  Won is a hard hitter.  Today his hard hits had a difficult time finding the court.  Marc is a lefty with lots of spin and a tough serve to return.  Pat has the worst strokes of anyone I play tennis with yet is the toughest player to beat because 1) he can move very well  2) he is very steady, getting everything back and 3) his reactions when he plays the net are super quick.  I enjoy playing with them.

No sooner than I came home Henry came over to do more math.  He worked for a couple of hours then came back after dinner for a couple more hours.  I really admire his work ethic and his math ability—he is a quick learner for the new material. 

His assignment, which is all done online using his Chromebook, is 563 different units of Pre-Calculus.  Each unit represents a separate math skill.  He began by taking a pre-test.  The problems are not multiple choice.  If he got the pretest problem correct it marked him complete for that unit.  But the pretest contained lots and lots of math he hadn’t taken.  In fact, it contained lots of material no student would take in a Pre-Calculus class.  So, no surprise, after the pretest he had many units to complete.  For each unit he has to complete, an example problem is provided then he is required to answer three problems correctly similar to the example.  Every twenty or so units he is given a test on the units he completes.  None of the problems are multiple choice.  Some are quite difficult and may take ten minutes per problem to solve.  He is determined to get them all done before school starts next Tuesday.  They are due the Sunday after that.  By the time he left tonight, he had finished and passed tests on 537 of the 563 units, had completed 14 more units and will be tested on them after six more units are complete, leaving 12 units not attempted yet.  We should be able to knock them out on Sunday.

I really understand why he was given this assignment, as tough as it is.  His Governor’s School class this fall will have in it students from seven high schools (Fort Defiance, Buffalo Gap, Riverheads, Stuarts Draft, Wilson Memorial, Staunton, and Waynesboro).  This means students come from seven different Pre-Calculus backgrounds.  Having them complete the 563 units means all students will be starting at the same level.  I’m betting that some of the students (maybe even most of the students) won’t have completed all 563 units.  He will.

As I said previously, I don’t work the problems FOR him, I work them WITH him and we compare answers.  It has surprised me that I’ve recalled as much of this math as I have.  And I will say that the software is well written in that it recognizes different equivalent forms of the same answer. 

After he left this afternoon, I went to Costco to get groceries for the Central Food Pantry.  They needed sugar, coffee, and tea.  I got them all (100 pounds of sugar, 11 coffee containers, and 9 boxes of tea bags) using the church’s tax-free membership and took them to Central.

Well, taking them to Central wasn’t as quick as it should.  For the second day in a row, and maybe more than that, traffic between Staunton and Harrisonburg on I-81 was backed up due to a trucking incident.  This time it was an 18-wheeler on fire on the exit ramp to Verona.  On the way I saw a tractor-trailer wrecked laying completely upside down near Mount Crawford.  Driving on I-81 anymore is awful.

Lynn and I finally got to eat dinner out tonight.  We’d tried for the past two nights and it just didn’t work for various reasons.  We went to the Bistro in Staunton where Lynn had a $10 off coupon.  She had her favorite there, Bistro Fries involving French fries, cheese, and bacon.  I had a chicken sandwich and chips. 

The hot news nowadays has to do with school masking.  According to the CDC, all students and teachers are expected to mask up regardless of their vaccination status thanks to the rapid spreading of the delta variant of COVID-19.  But in many places in the country, the public is objecting to this, especially in Republican states.  In our area, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and Rockingham County have agreed to follow these recommendations.  Supposedly the Augusta County School Board is meeting tonight to decide.  I’m sure there will be plenty of right-wingers there objecting.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 5              Infected                   Died

World             201,610,588           4,278,667

US                     36,283,755              631,829

Virginia                702,819                11,546

Augusta County       6,088                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,503,629  (4,636,202 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 72.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,331  (35,143 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 7, 2021

We slept well at the Hilton Garden Inn, as we usually do.  Lynn’s back has trouble with some mattresses, including our own, but seems to do fine at most hotels.  We had to get up and get out early in order to grab breakfast and make it to the 5K run/walk in Murfreesboro.   The big issue is that when we were ready to take things to our vehicle, it was pouring rain.  The forecast was not good—80% chance of thunderstorms all morning.  We wondered if the 5K would still be held but the Watermelon Festival website had nothing on it.  The entire area had a flash flood watch.

As a result, we checked out of the hotel, loaded our belongings, and drove to the nearby Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  We had a fine breakfast there and left in plenty of time to make it to Murfreesboro by the time packet pick-up was scheduled for the run/walk.  Since we registered early, we each got t-shirts when we checked in.  The rain was only coming down lightly at that point and we hoped it would not get worse by the 10:00 start.

There were fewer than 100 people in the 5K.  Fortunately, the rain was nearly stopped when the race started but we each had ponchos in our pockets just in case.  We were surprised, and a little disappointed, to quickly discover that nearly every other person was a runner, not a walker like we were.  One mother and her daughter were walking and we were soon ahead of them so at least we figured out we wouldn’t be the last two to cross the finish line.

There were plenty of people who assisted with the 5K.  That’s a good thing because soon the runners were out of our sight and we needed to know where to turn.  With the help of the volunteers, we did just fine.  The course was almost entirely level and wound through the campus of Chowan University and a nice residential area nearby.  We finished well ahead of the last two though our time was just under an hour, 57:25.  That didn’t matter to either of us since we weren’t racing anyone.  The most amazing part of the 5K is that it didn’t rain.  When I later looked at the weather map, there were huge storms in the shape of a giant upside-down U in North Carolina and Virginia.  Somehow, we were in the middle of the U.  Plus, the temperature was great for walking, in the mid 70’s.  At least we got in our 10,000 steps early today.

By particating in the 5K run/walk, we missed the main event in the Watermelon Festival, the parade.  I guess that when they blocked off Main Street for the 5K they also blocked it off for the parade which followed.  The people who lined the street on both sides were there more for the parade than for the 5K but it was still fun having them cheer us on.  As we walked we could hear a band play.  And before we started on the walk we saw floats getting ready for the parade including one for the young Miss Watermelons!

One perk of participating in the 5K is that we got a free watermelon.  Actually, we ended up with 6 free watermelons!  They had an abundance of them so we loaded our car so Lynn could give some to her friends.  I hope they turn out to be as tasty as the samples we got at the Festival.  The ones we had there yesterday and again this morning after the race were very sweet and seedless.

After the race was over, we did walk back to the Festival one last time, got another piece of free watermelon, then bought chocolate brownie cakes for our lunch.  We did have one issue on this trip that was unanticipated—we didn’t bring much cash.  At the Festival, only cash was accepted.  This was also true at the diner where we ate dinner last night.  So we ended up heading back to Virginia with a grand total of $1 between the two of us in cash.

This section of North Carolina has had much more rain than we’ve had.  Their grass is green; ours is brown.  Today was no exception; they got lots of rain and, back home, we got none.

We had such a good time this weekend that we decided to look for other small town festivals to attend in the future.  All of the people we interacted with were very nice and helpful. 

We were on the road home by 12:30.  Our drive through southside Virginia reminded me of how diverse Virginia’s topography is.  The houses along Rt. 35 in Sussex County, like those between Murfreesboro and Roanoke Rapids, were, for the most part, well kept brick ranchers with no basements.  There were no hills.  Acres and acres of farmland, mostly peanuts, soybeans, and corn, line the road.  Near Roanoke Rapids yesterday we did see some tobacco being grown.

Driving home we had to go through the top of those upside-down U shaped storm clouds.  It rained extremely hard at times and we could see water building in some of the yards beside the road.  The drive from Murfreesboro to Mount Sidney involved an hour of driving through rural Virginia and North Carolina on local highways and a little over two hours on Interstates 95 and 64.  With the rain storm, though, when we got to I-95, we found heavy traffic moving at 25 mph with the rain still coming down moderately hard.  The heavy rain continued all the way to Richmond and the traffic was slow and heavy. 

Shortly after Richmond the rain ended but another problem emerged.  There must have been a rock slide or something else on Afton Mountain because Google Maps said there was a 25 minute backup of traffic there.  So we got on US 250 in Afton and drove to Waynesboro where we made stops at Kroger, Wells Fargo, and Cookout.  Then we came home, arriving shortly after 5:00.

After eating some leftovers for dinner, we delivered watermelons to Ann, Lynn’s sister Kay, Cheryl Wright, and Cheryl Kent.  We spent the rest of the evening unpacking and watching the Olympics.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics, though since this is on the weekend the Virginia statistics are not updated:

August 7              Infected                   Died

World             202,924,626           4,298,292

US                     36,516,998              632,986

Virginia                704,644                11,558

Augusta County       6,102                       80

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,539,625  (4,649,928 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,661  (35,283 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 8, 2021

Meet the Press today featured more news about the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”  Again it was pointed out how political this situation is.  The twenty states with the highest vaccination rates all voted for Biden.  Eighteen of the twenty states with the lowest vaccination rates voted for Trump. 

I’m furious about the news that two of the Augusta County School Board members told parents who were unhappy with the state-mandated mask requirement that they should vote to get rid of Governor Northram.  Nick Collins said “we’ve got to get a Republican governor into the statehouse.” John Ochletree said “If you want to change that and help out your school board, then November 2 you need to go to the polls and vote Northam out of office.”  As a grandparent of two students too young to get vaccinated, I am pleased that our Governor cares enough about children to keep them safe.  I wish our School Board would.  School Board members have no business telling the public how to vote.  If anyone should be told how to vote, those who elected these two Board members should be told to vote them out of office.

The fact is, if the School Board wants to make a public statement about improving the COVID-19 situation, it should tell Augusta County residents to get vaccinated.  According to the VDH website, only 55% of Augusta County residents 12 and over are fully vaccinated.   So nearly half of the adults we come into contact with in our area are unvaccinated.

While it is true that unvaccinated people represent over 95% of those hospitalized now, they are doing harm to more than themselves.  If we are going to get control of COVID-19, the variants such as the Delta variant, need to be stopped and this will only happen when fewer people are infected.  And fewer people will be infected only when the unvaccinated people wise up.  Until then, we’ll all be wearing masks indoors.

The public can’t smoke indoors now and no one seems to be objecting to that.  Smoking indoors causes harm not just to those who are smoking.  The same can be said for requiring masks and vaccinations for indoor gatherings, especially in high COVID-19 spread areas.

The news said that the FDA may soon give its official approval of the Pfizer vaccine.  Perhaps when that happens, more and more places will mandate that their employees and customers must be vaccinated.  I hope so.  I also hope that vaccinations are soon approved for children.

School starts in Augusta County this coming Tuesday.  If Freddie and Betsy have to wear masks, along with their teachers, I’m fine with that.  They’ll be protected as much as possible until vaccinations come for them.  Thank God for a Governor who follows the science of the CDC instead of ignorant School Board members like Collins and Ocheltree.

Lynn and I went to Church today, as usual.  There we were asked to wear masks when the hymns were sung.  I subbed for Bill Bushman doing the Call to Worship and first scripture reading so I wore my mask then, too.  We had just over 40 people there.

Afterwards, we came home.  Then Lynn left to do some shopping with Ann and Henry came over to work on his huge math assignment.  We worked from 2:00 until 4:30 and at that point he completed all 563 of the units.  Whew!  It’s a good thing he is a quick learner or we would have been on this for weeks more.  But he completed the last 12 units quickly then did very well on his test so he completed the entire assignment.  Good for him!

We fixed another huge dinner for the Gutshall family tonight.  As soon as Henry and I finished math I got our baked potatoes started.  Soon thereafter I started grilling six large t-bone steaks while Lynn made a tomato casserole and cooked lima beans.  We had lots of food leftover.

After dinner, I cleaned up the dishes then played some tennis with Henry and Freddie.  Then Freddie came inside and played Wii with Gus.  Meanwhile, Lynn, Ann, and Betsy had the shopping bug again especially since Kohl’s had great sales going on today and today was a tax-free day in Virginia.  Lynn and Ann ended up spending a little over $200 on clothes, mostly for Betsy, but the regular prices for the items totaled over $1,000.  Lynn is such a great shopper!  Now Betsy is all outfitted for the start of school.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 8              Infected                   Died

World             203,405,679           4,306,985

US                     36,543,338              633,116

Virginia                704,644                11,558 No updates on weekend

Augusta County       6,102                       80 No updates on weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,556,583  (4,655,883 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,757  (35,311 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 9, 2021

Today I’ve been thinking about my memory.  It’s a well known fact that some older people can recall events, facts, or other knowledge from their youth but not things which happened very recently.  I have experienced that this week.  First, as I’ve worked with Henry on his PreCalculus math, I have surprised myself at how much of it I remember without having to review it for more than a glance.  I haven’t taught that math nor worked any problems like those he and I did for 30 years!  Yet working them with him was like I just taught the topic last week.

As another example, when Lynn and I drove into Murfreesboro last Friday, we saw a sign for Chowan University.  Lynn said she had never heard of that institution.  I told her I thought that the man who grew up about five miles from here on Limestone Road near the waterfall had been the baseball coach there.  I remembered his first name, Aaron, but not his last name.  Lynn was able to come up with his last name, Carroll.  Sure enough, today I did some internet research and found that Aaron Carroll from Fort Defiance High School had coached baseball at Chowan from 2004 – 2011.  How in the world I remembered that I don’t know.

Yet when I did my work at Central this morning, I needed to rely on the manual I wrote last fall in order to set up payroll and pay federal taxes for August.  I’ve had to do payroll twice each month since last October and pay taxes once monthly since then.  But I didn’t remember exactly what I needed to do and had to refer to the very manual I wrote.  Strange!

On a side note, I have used that manual a lot lateliy and am very glad I wrote it using screenshots.  I wrote it so I could pass of my treasurer’s work to someone else but now that won’t be happening anytime soon especially since Savannah Garner has resigned as Administrative Assistant effective tomorrow.  I guess I’ll be stuck with the treasurer’s duties for months to come.  That isn’t so bad because I have learned how to do it now and have the time since I’m retired.

This morning I paid several bills, made the deposit from yesterday’s worship services, set up payroll for mid-August, and paid the monthly federal taxes.  It was a productive morning.

Lynn and I went to Fort Defiance High School today and talked with the Athletic Director, Richard Miller.  We took him a check for $100 because we saw on Facebook that he is trying to raise enough money through donations to enable all FDHS students to attend school athletic events for free. We thought it was a worthwhile cause and wanted to donate toward it.  We had a good chat with him.

Lynn and I made a response today on the online version of the NewsLeader’s article about the Augusta County School Board members telling the public they should vote Republican.  Here’s what we wrote:  If anyone should be voted out of office it is the Board members who 1) try to influence others how to vote and 2) were previously willing to ignore the CDC and science.  We have two grandchildren in Augusta County Schools who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated yet.  It is a shame that our Governor is trying to protect them but our own School Board was not before they were forced to follow the law.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics including updates from Virginia since they weren’t updated since last Friday:

August 9              Infected                   Died

World             204,086,903           4,315,446

US                     36,769,591              633,788

Virginia                709,319                11,571

Augusta County       6,152                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,568,286  (4,660,161 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,803  (35,329 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

Wow, Virginia has had nearly 5,000 new cases since last Friday.  At least the number of deaths only increased by 13 during that time period.  I guess this just shows the effectiveness of the vaccines.  In some cases, they may not keep you from getting COVID-19 but if you do, your case isn’t severe.  CNN said today that more than 99.99% of those vaccinated have not been hospitalized or died from COVID-19 despite the fact that it is running rampant throughout the country now.

August 10, 2021

Lynn has come up with another festival for us to attend.  This time it is the Cupcake Festival in Hurricane, WV, on August 27-28.  Hurricane is about 4 hours from here, near Huntington.  But she also has wanted for years to go to the J. Q. Dickinson Salt Works which is near Charleston so we can do both on the same trip. The Cupcake Festival also has a 5K walk/run which she signed us up for and I found a motel.

Tennis was about normal today; I made some shots and missed some.  I ended up winning two of the three sets I played which isn’t bad.  Since we’re going to Roanoke tomorrow night this will be the only time this week I can play so I’m glad to have gotten it in.  The weather this week is going to be oppressively hot so it’s good that we played early today.

Lynn had a busy day today:  haircut, lunch with the FDHS retired teachers, tutor session in Waynesboro with Juan Pablo, and Staff-Parish meeting via Zoom in the evening.  The only item on my calendar was tennis.  I did go to the dump.

Ann, Lynn, and I were here when Freddie rode the bus here after his first day in 2nd grade.  He said he had a good day and so did Henry, Gus, and Betsy.  As I told them, 1 down, 179 to go.

I got my hair cut yesterday by my favorite barber, Lynn.  She does a good job; I know my hair isn’t easy to cut.  I would be OK returning to a regular barber shop now that I’m vaccinated but there’s no need when she does such a fine job.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 10            Infected                   Died

World             204,725,057           4,325,793

US                     36,891,931              634,662

Virginia                711,078                11,578

Augusta County       6,160                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,589,699  (4,669,184 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,895  (35,366 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 11, 2021

The joys of being retired…today we drove to Roanoke to see a James Taylor concert at the Berglund Center and visit with Jim, Faron, and Coen.  Accompanying us to the concert were Tom and Connie Davis, John and Ginny Bauman, and Jim and Vicki Printy.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which is only a seven minute walk from the Berglund Center.  Lynn and I had gotten all eight tickets in advance which were held at Will Call.  So we went to Roanoke early to pick them up so we could meet the others at 6:30 at the hotel and walk to the concert. 

Lynn had a mammogram early this morning in Harrisonburg.  Afterwards she did a little shopping at Costco then returned home so we could leisurely travel to Roanoke.

The Central Sunday School class which I attend has decided to read and discuss a book, The God We Never Knew, by Marcus Borg, an Episcopalian minister.  I got the book from Amazon and read the first of its seven chapters this morning.  The author describes his own upbringing with the traditional view of God as one who created the world and now resides “out there,” distant and distinct from the world.  As many of us were taught, he was told he needed to follow Christianity so he would make it to heaven.  In his early adulthood, he rejected these ideas and now thinks of God as being in the world as opposed to being apart from it.  I guess I’ll learn more after I read the next six chapters.

On our way to Roanoke we stopped in Lexington hoping to get ice cream at the Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe where we’d had it before.  We got there at 11:30 and thought it opened at noon.  So we grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich which we shared at a nearby store then walked around Lexington for a few minutes.  But when we got back to the ice cream store at noon it was not open.  As we left I called them and the young man who answered said they’d be opened by 12:30 but we didn’t want to wait.  Fortunately, we found a Cook Out a few blocks away which had their 99¢ chocolate chip milkshakes so we got our fix there.

We got to Roanoke before 2:00 and went straight to the Berglund Center to get our will call tickets.  This proved to be a great decision because when we returned to the Center to attend the concert the line at will call was huge.  After we got our tickets we tried to check in at the Holiday Inn Express which was very nearby but our room wasn’t ready. 

We went to the Belk store at Tanglewood Mall and looked around for a bit then returned to the hotel where we were able to check in.  Then we called Jim and headed to see him, Faron, and Coen.

Jim wasn’t having a very good day with some lawnmower problems but we were able to play with Coen and Faron for a while.  He said they would eat pizza from a nearby store, Papa’s Pizza, so we ordered for the five of us.  Ironically, when we got back home with the order, I ate Jim’s chicken parmigiana instead of my baked spaghetti but he was OK with the spaghetti.  Lynn got a steak stromboli and the boys got personal cheese pizzas.  We had a decent meal in his back yard.  It had rained earlier which cooled the temperature down, thankfully.

We were back at the hotel in plenty of time to meet our friends, give them their tickets, then walk to the concert.  The crowd was huge at the Berglund Center; it appeared to be a near sellout.  We had worn out masks at the hotel and wore them at the concert, too.  I’d say most people in attendance did.  The average age of the crowd was our age.

Before James Taylor came on stage, Jackson Browne had an hour of his music.  He has been around for decades and is 72 years old.  James Taylor is 73.  But both can still play and sing.  We enjoyed both Jackson Browne and James Taylor.  James performed mostly his old favorites which is just what we had hoped.  He closed with You’ve Got a Friend

We walked back to the hotel and were in our rooms shortly after 11:00, late for us.  But it had been a good, successful day.  We’re lucky to be able to do things like this.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics.  Unfortunately, thanks to the Delta variant and unvaccinated idiots these numbers keep rising:

August 11            Infected                   Died

World             205,513,682           4,337,615

US                     37,055,916              635,636

Virginia                713,195                11,581

Augusta County       6,175                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,603,216  (4,674,478 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.6% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        68,963  (35,390 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of vaccinations in our area.  Good!

August 12, 2021

Our stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Roanoke was as good as any of the other hotels we normally stay at:  Hilton Garden Inn, Best Western, Comfort Suites, etc.  It was the first time in ages that I can remember staying at a Holiday Inn Express but I’d definitely consider doing it again.  All eight of us stayed there; we gathered in the breakfast lobby today and ate and chatted until after 10:00.  None of us had anything pressing to force us to come home sooner.

We were home shortly after noon.  There was one slowdown on I-81 which is the norm nowadays.  Neither Lynn nor I had much to do this afternoon; she was supposed to go to Waynesboro to tutor Juan Pablo but he texted her that he really didn’t have an schoolwork assigned yet and told her to not come.

Instead, we went to Harrisonburg where she returned items at both Kohl’s and Costco.  Then we came home and fixed dinner.  Afterwards, Betsy came over for some minor help with math.  We took her home on our way to Smiley’s for dessert.  All in all, today was an uneventful, easy day.

Governor Northram announced today that the state requires all students, teachers, staff, visitors in our public and private K-12 schools in Virginia to wear a mask indoors and that’s regardless of their vaccination status.  That’s sure to infuriate many locals in our area but I’m with him 100%.  Lynn and I wore masks yesterday and today anytime we were indoors including the James Taylor concert. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 12            Infected                   Died

World             206,149,587           4,346,658

US                     37,176,706              635,926

Virginia                715,556                11,583

Augusta County       6,232                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,617,533  (4,680,268 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 73.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,105  (35,456 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

As I’ve noted before, the number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing rapidly but the deaths are not.  For example, Augusta County alone had 57 new cases of COVID today but Virginia had only two new deaths.  This just shows that the vaccinations are working.

August 13, 2021

I spent over four hours today at Central working on Treasurer’s items.  Since we no longer have an administrative assistant, not only do I have to create checks to pay the bills, I’ve got to get them all mailed and filed.  That took a while but I also did some preparation work for the 2020 audit which will likely be done this week.  I also put together a box of food for Juan Pablo which Lynn and I took to him this afternoon after she had done some Cricut work with Cheryl Kent.  She and the two Cheryls spent the morning going to garage sales.

We had a big thunderstorm this afternoon—the first real rain we’ve seen in weeks.  I know our brown grass enjoyed it.

We got a surprise when we took Juan Pablo’s food box this afternoon.  His Dad works at the Pollak vineyard in Albemarle County.  He handed us four bottles of Pollak white wine. 

From there we drove to the Old School food truck and got our usual hamburgers.  We also stopped by Ann’s house because she had bought some lima beans for us which Lynn shelled, blanched, and froze tonight.

Today was supposed to have been the day Trump was to be reinstated as President according to those who believe the Big Lie and followers like Mike Lindell.  I’ve had a good time reading the comments today on Facebook about this preposterous prediction. 

Lynn found another festival to attend!  At least this one is nearby.  Tomorrow we’re going to go to the 42nd Annual Peach Festival in Hagerstown MD.  We’re just going for the day.  I’m looking forward to having some peach pie, peach ice cream, and possibly bringing home some tasty peaches.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 13            Infected                   Died

World             206,848,284           4,357,035

US                     37,323,630              637,074

Virginia                717,826                11,599

Augusta County       6,250                       81

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,645,617  (4,691,440 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,212  (35,502 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 14, 2021

Well, the Peach Festival in Hagerstown was a bust.  We left home early and got to Hagerstown around 10:00.  There were lots of craft vendor tents so we thought it would be a good festival but it was not.  The vendors were mainly manufactured goods like Avon and those which had homemade goods were poor quality.  There were only two peach vendors there and their prices were sky high.  The festival was crowded though it had plenty of volunteers and the parking was well managed.  But, for example, there were no Peach Festival shirts anywhere; for the most part there was no reference to peaches at all.

By 11:00 we were ready to come home.  Hagerstown is home to the Premium Outlets so we actually spent more time there than at the Peach Festival.  Lynn had broken her pocketbook on the way to Hagerstown so she looked in lots of stores there for a replacement but had no luck.  She did manage to find a dress she liked. 

So, in the early afternoon, we headed home on I-81.  What a disaster!  There were three places between Hagerstown and home that traffic showed as being stopped.  One delay was listed as 28 minutes.  When we got to Winchester we got off on US 522 which took us to Front Royal and managed to avoid the first of the stoppages though there were so many stoplights on the road we might as well have waited on I-81.  Then we got back on I-81 only to see two more coming up soon so we got off on Rt. 42 and took it all the way to Harrisonburg.  In Harrisonburg we switched over to US 11 to go to Mount Crawford because Lynn wanted to get some tomatoes at Overlook Produce in Mount Crawford.  We also got corn there and some peaches for Cheryl Kent then came on home on US 11.  It took us MUCH longer to come back than it did to go there.

We got home, fixed dinner, then went to Waynesboro so Lynn could continue to look for pocketbooks at Ross and Kohl’s.  She found two at Ross she liked and bought them, then found one at Kohl’s she liked even more so she bought it, too.  She’s going to take back at least one of the three but it was raining hard by the time we left so she brought all three home.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 14            Infected                   Died

World             207,472,950           4,366,046

US                     37,435,422              637,438

Virginia                717,826                11,599   Not updated since today is Saturday

Augusta County       6,250                       81   Not updated since today is Saturday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,662,179  (4,698,547 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,378  (35,589 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)

August 15, 2021

We haven’t had a gray, dreary day in ages so I actually appreciated today.  The high temperature was in the 70’s and there was occasional light rain.  The grass is starting to turn green again and I’ll have to mow this week for a change.  The forecast has thunderstorms listed the next four days.

We began a new Sunday School study this morning.  We’re all reading and discussing the book The God We Never Knew by Marcus Borg.  So far the book and discussion have been good.  As I described in a previous day’s post, I believe the author’s intent is to dispel the notion that God is someone you meet when you die (meet your maker) and instead find Him in daily life.

After Church today Lynn and I went to Kroger and Aldi to get food for tonight’s meal.  She fixed pork BBQ, homemade rolls, a tomato pie, a hash brown potato casserole, and corn on the cob.  Yum!

Kay’s family has been on the go.  They were at a New York beach all last week with Andy’s parents and family.  They came home yesterday then flew out this morning for Bozeman MT where they’ll be visiting Yellowstone National Park.  I know they’ll love it as much as Lynn and I did.  It is a huge park with many things to see.  Lynn and I didn’t get to Bozeman but I know it is picturesque since Vic lived there for many years and told us about its ski slopes and mountains.

We have a few weeks of being around here then our travels really hit.  We’ve got big trips coming up to Oregon the first of September and Salt Lake City in October.  In fact, we’ll be gone eight consecutive Friday nights, counting these trips plus football games and some other shorter trips. 

It occurred to me today that our travels are contingent upon COVID-19 staying away from us and the US not becoming more restrictive.  I hope both are the case but the way COVID is spreading nowadays nothing is guaranteed.  We’ve heard of several “breakthrough” cases where vaccinated people get COVID-19 though I think these cases were all non-life threatening.  Again, that’s the purpose of the vaccine.

The news is still full of fury from non-maskers living in areas where masking is mandated and from maskers in areas like Florida where Governor DeSantis has issued a ban on mandated masking for schools. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 15            Infected                   Died

World             207,945,866           4,374,234

US                     37,466,718              637,561

Virginia                717,826                11,599   Not updated since today is Saturday

Augusta County       6,250                       81   Not updated since today is Saturday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,680,836  (4,706,457 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,489  (35,638 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   As good as these numbers look, that’s still only 55.5% of those eligible to be vaccinated who are fully vaccinated and only 47.2% of the overall Augusta County population. Over half of the people we encounter in Augusta County are not fully vaccinated!

August 16, 2021

I spent nearly five hours at Central today.  Besides doing the normal jobs of paying bills, counting the offering, and depositing the offering, I had more work to do now that we no longer have an administrative assistant.  I had to mail the bills, enter the contributions into the Servant Keeper software, and made a backup of all the files on the secretary computer to the external drive that is connected to the treasurer’s computer.  Both computers had a Windows update to install and I also did some work on sending acknowledgements and thank you notes to those who donated toward the Memorial Fund in memory of Ann Spotts.  Finally, I helped unload the truck from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank which made its weekly delivery this afternoon. 

I have no idea how long it will be until a new administrative assistant will be hired.  I’m not optimistic about the quality and quantity of applicants.  I’m not involved with this decision.

I enjoyed playing with Freddie when he got off the bus this afternoon.  We played three games of Wii Baseball (he won 2, I won 1) then three games on the basketball court:  PIG, Around the World, and 21 (he won all 3!).  He is a lot of fun to be with; I enjoy my time with him.

I took him home afterwards while Lynn went to Waynesboro to tutor Juan Pablo for a little while.  When she came back, we had a great dinner of leftovers but saved room for ice cream from Smiley’s.  Lynn likes Turtle flavor which is one of this week’s special flavors.  Of course, I ate salted caramel chocolate chip in a waffle cone.

President Biden is taking a lot of heat now for his decision to pull American troops out of Afghanistan especially since the Taliban has moved in immediately and taken over the country.  We have lost 3,000 lives there in the past twenty years and spent billions and billions.  I think he made the right decision.

Today was a dreary day with on and off rain.  Soon I am definitely going to need to have a dry day so I can cut grass.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 16            Infected                   Died

World             208,573,091           4,382,315

US                     37,654,995              638,183

Virginia                723,727                11,618   First update since Friday

Augusta County       6,347                       81   First update since Friday

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,694,486  (4,712,192 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.3% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,526  (35,655 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

The increases in the Virginia cases over the weekend were great—almost 6,000 new cases.  There were 19 new deaths.  This is scary.

August 17, 2021

I had an e-mail today from the people who run Avon Hill where we vacationed last summer south of Charlottesville.  They were offering a 20% off return visit.  I think we made a great decision last year when we picked Avon Hill as a gathering place for the family.  I wish Jim and his boys could have come; all of us had a very good time there.  Will we go back?  Who knows.

Today was an easy day.  It rained overnight so there was no tennis.  Lynn’s Cheryl friends came out and talked with her all morning.  I did a very few chores around the house but not much.  In the afternoon, Lynn and I went into Staunton for a quick trip to her sisters.  Then we met Freddie’s bus though his other grandfather was here to pick him up.  The Gutshalls are going to meet his bus on Tuesdays and Fridays and we have the other days. 

After that, I took a load of garbage to the dump, stopping by Ann’s house to get theirs.   As soon as I got back, Lynn and I made a trip to Harrisonburg with several stops.  We went to Costco, Kroger, Ross, Walmart, and ate at El Sol.  It was Taco Tuesday night.  Together, we ate well for under $15. 

I confess that then we got treats.  First we stopped at Krispy Kreme where I got two donuts using our COVID-19 vaccination records.  Lynn gave me hers.  Then we went to Dairy Queen and continued with dessert as Lynn got a Blizzard and I had a cone.  We ate them at the Eastover Tennis Courts then came home.

By the time we got here, it was raining pretty hard.  It is supposed to rain most of the night.  I guess the grass will finally turn green again and start growing.  Perhaps I can mow on Thursday.

Lynn is the best shopper.  Tonight at Kroger she wanted to get sugar which was on sale for $0.97 for a four pound bag.  There was a limit of five bags per person.  But when we got to the sugar aisle, the shelf was empty for the sugar on sale.  Actually, this also happened at Kroger in Staunton on Sunday and she got a rain check for the sugar.  But this evening at Harrisonburg she was told that they weren’t going to give out rain checks for the sugar.  She didn’t take no for an answer.  Soon the Kroger employee was on the phone with the manager.  She offered to let Lynn have two 10 pound bags for the equivalent price so Lynn said OK.  But when the employee tagged the sugar, he tagged the 10 pound bags for only $1.95 each.  So she ended up getting twenty pounds of sugar for $4.  I also got two 10 pound bags for Cheryl Kent at the same price.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 17            Infected                   Died

World             209,332,106           4,393,421

US                     37,892,089              640,077

Virginia                725,971                11,625  

Augusta County       6,384                       82  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,708,029  (4,718,220 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,585  (35,679 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)   

August 18, 2021

I spent another four hours at Central this morning.  This time it was to work on the 2020 Annual Audit.  Technically I shouldn’t be on the audit committee since I’m the treasurer and bookkeeper but Won encouraged me to do it again especially since Sam Richardson would be doing it with me and he doesn’t have either of those designations.  Sam has had issues with sciatica lately but he was able to come this morning and we got 98% of the work done.  There are three major sections of the audit:  1) bank accounts  2) investment accounts and 3)  UMM and UMW accounts.  We got both 1) and 2) done.  The other two will go very quickly because with 2020 being such a COVID-19 year, neither organization did much.  We’ll get them knocked off on Monday morning when we do the counting of the August 22 worship service offering.

When we audit, we don’t question why a particular expenditure was made but we do make sure that the bank(s) and church bookkeeper are in 100% agreement and that balances in each of the accounts reported to the congregation on the monthly statements match those figures.  We finished our work around 12:30 today.

I thought it was supposed to rain all day but by mid-morning the skies had cleared and the sun was shining.  I thought about cutting grass but decided to postpone that until tomorrow.  Lynn had to go to Cub Run Elementary School to interpret for an afternoon meeting and I had to be here when Freddie’s bus came.  Ann came to pick him up shortly after he arrived.

All four of the Gutshall kids report that school is going well for them.  Henry is undoubtedly under lots of pressure at the Governor’s School and has to leave home around 7:15 each morning in order to make it on time.  He drives.  The other three report that they like their teachers and school has gone well.  Whew!

Tonight we had a phone call with Hal and Diane about our Oregon trip which is only two weeks away.  I called the reservation center at Crater Lake earlier in the day to make sure the Oregon fires hadn’t adversely affected that part of our trip.  I was told that the park was unaffected thus far by the fires except for the presence of smoke.  Hal and Diane said the same about the ultramarathon race we’re going to watch with them in southern Oregon.

Diane told us that her brother had succumbed to COVID-19 last night.  He was unvaccinated.  She repeated what an avoidable loss this had been for her family. 

Tonight we took some things to Brent and Marina Foltz who just had a new baby.  We gave them a blanket Lynn had embroidered, a sticker book for big sister Madison, and a Domino’s pizza card. 

Ordinarily, Marc Kinder arranges/checks with the rest of us regarding our Tuesday/Thursday tennis foursome.  But for the next two weeks Marc is going to be in Florida.  So tonight I attempted to come up with a foursome.  Won wanted to play.  Unfortunately, Pat Peason said he could not.  Neither could Randy Simmons.  Lewis Moore said he could, but we still needed a 4th.  I tried texting Darrell Miller but he didn’t respond.  I texted Won and Lewis for their ideas.  But at this moment I’m not sure if I’ll be playing or not.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 18            Infected                   Died

World             210,044,624           4,403,923

US                     38,067,107              641,312

Virginia                728,523                11,632  

Augusta County       6,436                       82  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,720,193  (4,723,344 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,671  (35,718 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated.

August 19, 2021

Overnight I got a reply from Darrell that he could play tennis so the four of us (Darrell, Won, Lewis, and I) met at Mary Baldwin.  I was glad to get to play.  I played OK for me and won two of the three sets.  For a change, I wasn’t the oldest player; Darrell is 72.  It was hot and humid but still felt great to be on the court.

When I came home, Lynn was getting ready to leave.  She had interpreting jobs at two different Rockingham County elementary schools this afternoon then went to Waynesboro to tutor Juan Pablo. 

I stayed back and cut the grass.  After the rains this past weekend, it needed to be cut.  But it was hot, around 88o, so by the time I finished I was plenty tired.  I took it easy until Freddie’s bus arrived around 3:15.

He and I had another good time playing Wii baseball although I got beat in four straight games.  I really do try to beat him but he squeezed past me in every one today. 

After Ann came and picked up Freddie, Lynn and I decided to go to the Rockingham County Fair.  Tonight was senior citizen night so we got in for $2 each.  It rained all the way there but we could see better weather on the way so we waited inside the car in the parking lot until the rain stopped.  It turned out to be a good move because it didn’t rain again the entire evening.  We wanted to get some of the steak sandwiches there for supper and we did.  They were delicious!  We also walked around the fair, saw the animals and exhibits, ran into some old friends, and left before dark.

We went straight to Smiley’s for dessert.  Lynn really likes the Turtle ice cream which is featured this week.  I got my usual. 

Lynn had walked twice today, once with Pat Collins and a second time with Ginny Bauman.  By the time we walked all around the Fair tonight, she accumulated over 17,000 steps for the day.  I topped 12,000.  Not bad for two old people, huh?

Walking around the Fair, we noted to each other than with less than 50% of the population in this area fully vaccinated, around one out of every two people we saw were unvaccinated.  How can people be so dumb?  My fear is that one of us will pick up a mild case of COVID-19 just before we are scheduled to go to Oregon.  If we do, it will be because the idiots in this area don’t get vaccinated and carry the virus.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 19            Infected                   Died

World             210,789,401           4,416,146

US                     38,231,716              643,110

Virginia                731,287                11,638  

Augusta County       6,518                       83  

            Vaccinated – NOTE:  these figures were not updated today.  I’m not sure why.

Virginia 9,720,193  (4,723,344 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,671  (35,718 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated.

August 20, 2021

If my mother were still alive, she’d be 107 today!  She died almost 41 years ago.  I wish my children could have spent time with her.  She would have loved to have hosted them at her house in Bramwell.  She died when I had just turned 30.

Today’s only activity on my calendar was to help at Paul Obaugh’s funeral at Central.  I went to the church early to do some other Treasurer’s work and got lots done.  I finished up just in time to get the sound system ready for the funeral.

All went well there.  Lynn came and sat with me then we both headed home.  By the time I had eaten lunch, changed clothes, etc. it was time for Freddie’s bus to come.  Josh was here waiting on the bus and him so he wasn’t here long.

At this point, we basically had nothing planned but we quickly decided to get some things done.  First on our list was to get our flu vaccine.  Our friend Diane Koerner had given us that idea saying it would be good to have another layer of protection before our Oregon trip.  So we headed to Walgreen’s in Verona and soon were vaccinated. 

Then we headed to Harrisonburg because Lynn had a coupon for Penney’s and some Kohl’s cash which expired at Kohl’s.  She was able to use both on some dresses at each location.  Lynn has a ton of clothes but she’s not paid much for any of them.  Today was no exception.

On our way home, she heard from Juan Pablo that he would like some food from Central.  We grabbed our usual Friday hamburgers from Old School food truck and came home to eat them quickly.  Then we headed to CUMC where we got one box for Juan Pablo and another box for Elizabeth and family. 

Ordinarily we would have taken the food to Juan Pablo tomorrow morning but Lynn already had plans to go to garage sales with her Cheryl friends.  So she texted Juan Pablo and asked if we could bring the food tonight.  We then headed to Waynesboro and dropped the food off for him.  On the way home, we stopped by Dairy Queen in Verona for dessert.

So what started out as a very light day turned out to be a very busy evening.  But we felt good that done so much and had been able to help others.  At Kohl’s, Lynn ended up with extra Kohl’s cash but noticed a family there she knew who were able to use it. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 20            Infected                   Died

World             211,502,733           4,426,531

US                     38,398,565              644,281

Virginia                734,079                11,647  

Augusta County       6,583                       83  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,761,485  (4,741,951 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        69,945  (35,849 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.4% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.

August 21, 2021

Over the past several days I’ve had good news from both my brother and sister.  My brother reports that he has been seeing lots of Jackie, also a retiree from Ohio University.  He said she likes to swim, as does he, and walk (he runs).  The best part about hearing this from him is how good he has sounded on the phone when he’s told us about her and places they’ve been to.  We’ll see how this works out.

Mary Katherine is much closer to moving.  She found a new house close to Kit and Colin’s.  It is on one level and would certainly be a downsizing from the big house she and Denny lived in for 50 years.  She’s sounded excited about this lifestyle change.  It might happen within the month.  Then she’ll have to put her current house on the market, I guess.

A couple of weeks ago our friends Elizabeth and Gilberto asked a favor of us.  They are in the process of starting an apartment cleaning business.  They asked us if they could list our address as the base address for their business.  I guess this is because they currently rent in Mount Solon and perhaps the land there is zoned differently.  Anyway, Lynn called the Augusta County Zoning people and was told that they would need to change the zoning for our house in order to do so but this wasn’t a big deal.  They said they’d put a sign up in our yard notifying neighbors of the intent to rezone it.

Today we learned from one neighbor that there is another one who is not happy with this.  If an issue is made to the Zoning Board, perhaps this plan will be canceled.  Ironically, Elizabeth has repeatedly told us that the business would be listed here in name only.  They would not come here, have any good delivered here, or actually conduct any business from here.  We went along with them to help them out.  I’m not going to write any more about this now; perhaps I will elaborate once a decision has been made by the Zoning Board.  We won’t fight their decision no matter what.

Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia return from their western vacation tomorrow.  The last we heard they were leaving Yellowstone heading for the Grand Tetons.  Of all the parks we’ve been to, Yellowstone has the most varied scenery.

After our dinner tonight Lynn made a batch of hot pepper jelly.  She really likes it; I much prefer sweet fruit preserves.  When she was finished, we went into Staunton and walked two laps around Gypsy Hill Park.  She ended up the day with over 11,000 steps; I barely made 10,000.

Much has been written in the news lately about Biden’s botched plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.  Nearly 2,500 Americans have died there over the last twenty years.  Some veterans are saying that they died for nothing.  I guess I feel that way about Vietnam.  In both cases, we really had no business going there, in my opinion.  I support Biden’s decision to withdraw the troops and just wish the process would have gone smoother.

The FDA will likely give full approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday.  Now what excuse will the 50% of the Augusta County population have to not get it?  One person on Facebook wrote about the idiots who won’t mask and won’t get vaccinated, “Last year they were willing to sacrifice Grandma and Grandpa.  This year it’s their own kids.” 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 21            Infected                   Died

World             212,183,101           4,435,512

US                     38,519,247              644,838

Virginia                734,079                11,647   Not updated since Friday.

Augusta County       6,583                       83   Not updated since Friday.

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,778,079  (4,749,696 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 74.9% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        70,062  (35,911 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.5% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  At least this number is slowly climbing.

August 22, 2021

Today was a busy Sunday for us.  For me, it began with Zoom Sunday School at 9:00.  As soon as it was over, Lynn and I drove to Central.  We had about 45 people in attendance; all were wearing masks. 

Immediately after church, we went to Kroger where Lynn dropped a prescription off and we did a little shopping before returning home.  She started early fixing dinner for us and the Gutshalls but we took a break to run to Smiley’s for a treat mid-afternoon.

Ann and family came over for dinner around 5:30.  Afterwards, I played a little with Freddie.  The last two days he’s come over I’ve encouraged him to throw a baseball with me.  I seriously don’t think he’ll ever play but thought he should learn how to throw and catch.  We had two gloves and an old ball so we played catch just like I used to do with my grandfather, Pappa Joe.

Tonight we had a phone conversation with our California friends Mike and Jean Orbinosky.  This is the couple we met on our Panama Trip.  We’ve actually gotten together once since then and they are considering joining us in Salt Lake City in October.  We sent them our Utah itinerary tonight and they’re going to think about it.

This coming week is our last full week before we leave for our Oregon trip so we’ve got lots of things to take care of.  Tomorrow morning I’ll spend most of the time at Central doing Treasurer’s work.  Lynn has almost daily interpreting sessions scheduled at Rockingham County elementary schools.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 22            Infected                   Died

World             212,583,357           4,444,384

US                     38,545,144              645,058

Virginia                734,079                11,647   Not updated since Friday.

Augusta County       6,583                       83   Not updated since Friday.

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,796,957  (4,758,646 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        70,148  (35,951 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.6% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Augusta County lags the state of Virginia in all vaccination categories.

August 23, 2021

There were two stories on ABCNews.com today about preventing/treating COVID-19.  The first was a relieving story that said that the FDA had given full approval of the Pfizer vaccine now.  That might convince some to finally take it but, to be honest, I’m betting the anti-vaxers will just come up with another excuse.  The second one is almost funny it is so ridiculous.  The title of the article is “Deworming drug should not be used to treat COVID-19, officials say.”  So there are people who don’t trust the medical community enough to be vaccinated but are willing to take a deworming medicine intended for horses and cows!!  This sounds like a remedy Trump would have recommended like he suggested that ultraviolet light could somehow be flashed inside a person or bleach should be injested to get rid of it.

Today I spent 4 ½ hours at Central.  I got there at 8:00 and left after 12:30.  I had lots of Treasurer’s tasks to do, some for the audit, some for the weekly counting and depositing, some for a mail merge I set up to acknowledge memorial gifts, some for reports I need for tomorrow’s Finance meeting, some for setting up payroll and liabilities for the end of the month payroll, and some for paying bills.  Plus, when I was there we got two food deliveries, one from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and another from Food Lion. 

We got so much Food Lion food that I immediately called Lynn and told her we should take some to Juan Pablo and some to Elizabeth and her family.  Juan Pablo told her he didn’t need any more, but Elizabeth said she’d welcome some.

So, I came home, ate lunch, then Lynn and I headed out.  Before we got the food for Elizabeth, we went by a medical supply store where Lynn bought us some KN-95 masks for our upcoming airplane flights.  Then we filled two large boxes with food.  Elizabeth wasn’t home at the time so we first came home then later delivered her boxes to her.

Lynn walked early this morning with Pat Collins.  We both talked about walking tonight but it was very, very hot today.  We agreed to wait until it cooled some and the sun was on the way down before going out.  It turned out to be a good choice.  We walked our Leaport Road hike.  I hadn’t done much walking before that so I only got about 8,000 steps in today.  Lynn had 1 ½ times that.

We had some health scares from two of our grandchildren today.  Freddie woke up coughing so Ann and Josh decided to hold him out of school.  They called both his pediatrician’s office and the Clymore Elementary Nurse and both said that if this was the only symptom he was showing, had no fever, to go ahead and send him back to school tomorrow if he improved.  Thankfully, he did during the day.  We talked to him tonight and he seemed to be on the mend.

Kay had a scarier time.  Thomas woke up having a hard time breathing.  They were both worried that he had picked up COVID-19 on their western vacation they just got back from late last night.  She hurried him to the doctor’s office where they did the rapid COVID-19 test and, fortunately, it came back negative.  Like Freddie, he seemed to make improvement during the day.

We talked to Kay for a good while tonight.  She told us all about their trip to Montana, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons.  They had a wonderful time, saw lots of wildlife, and took in both beautiful and unusual scenery.  I know Lynn and I loved our trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

Jim’s boys start school tomorrow in Roanoke.  Faron goes to Kindergarten and Coen is enrolled in a Pre-K at the same school, a city school in Roanoke. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics including updated Virginia and Augusta County cases which hadn’t been updated since Friday.

August 23            Infected                   Died

World             213,212,877           4,452,210

US                     38,745,800              645,892

Virginia                741,160                11,675  

Augusta County       6,742                       84  

            Vaccinated

Virginia   9,808,587  (4,74,188 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot.)   

            Augusta County        70,198  (35,973 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.6% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Augusta County lags the state of Virginia in all vaccination categories.

Tonight Jim told us he thought only 30% of the students in his high school were vaccinated.  I looked at the VDH website and found that, statewide, less than 50% of those ages 12 – 17 are fully vaccinated.  Why?  Perhaps with the FDA giving the Pfizer vaccination their full approval, school systems can consider making it mandatory for students (or at least faculty) to be vaccinated.

August 24, 2021

Today was hot and humid but I still managed to get in 2¼ hours of tennis.  The secret was we started at 8:00 AM though it was still hot and humid then.  I played OK but certainly not well.  At least we played.

Afterwards I stopped at Rice Tire in Verona and ordered some tires for my Civic.  The ones I have on now are original, have 50,000 miles on them, and ride extremely rough.  I hope this all gets solved when the new tires are installed, perhaps Thursday or Friday of this week.

Friday we’re going to be driving to the Cupcake Festival in near Huntington so we’ll just take Lynn’s car if my new tires aren’t installed.

I had a 2:00 Finance Meeting and a 7:00 Council Meeting today.  As usual, I had lots of preparation work to do for the Finance meeting and then had to take minutes at the Council meeting.

Lynn was once again thwarted from tutoring Juan Pablo because he was sick again.  She wisely doesn’t want to tutor him if he’s not well.

And speaking of being well, it was good to find out that Freddie was doing much better today and went to school.  Thomas still had a cough but no fever today.  And today was Faron’s first day of Kindergarten!  By all accounts it went well for him.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 24            Infected                   Died

World             213,496,359           4,463,882

US                     38,965,741              648,126

Virginia                744,187                11,693  

Augusta County       6,794                       84  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,824,373  (4,772,065 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 55.9% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        70,265  (36,007 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.7% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  And, Augusta had over 50 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Not good..

There was a TV-3 news story today about Augusta’s current outbreak.  There are currently over 30 people hospitalized at Augusta Health with COVID-19 with the great majority of them being unvaccinated.

August 25, 2021

An article in today’s Staunton Newsleader says that Augusta County currently has one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the state, per capita.  Augusta County reported a whopping 333 cases and two deaths in the latest week.  A week earlier, it had reported 148 cases and two deaths. Throughout the pandemic it has reported 6,583 cases and 83 deaths.  One bit of good news is that Virginia ranked 34th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

We’re keeping our eyes on Oregon travel restrictions with our trip now one week away.  This morning the Governor of Oregon instituted an outdoor mask mandate.  They already had an indoor one.  Looks like we’ll be packing several masks.

I also discovered that one of the places we want to visit, Multnomah Falls near Portland, now requires advance tickets in order to visit due to trying to regulate the number of visitors there.  I texted Hal and Diane to see what they wanted to do about this; they said to go ahead and get them for September 2 at 10:00 which I did.

Today involved more work at Central. I’m trying to get everything behind me since we’ll be gone for two consecutive weeks, September 1 – 15, to Oregon.  In the afternoon, Lynn went to Cub Run to interpret for a meeting.  I was here for Freddie’s bus.

He and I played our usual games of Wii.  After he left, I went to Harrisonburg and met Lynn at Vito’s restaurant.  On Wednesday’s they have a senior citizen special whereby if you buy one meal at regular price you get a second lunch-sized meal for free.  I like the spaghetti and she likes something called Bucatini Amatriciana so that works out fine for us.   The issue with tonight was that JMU is back in session so the restaurant was crowded and there was a sign on the door that asked patrons to be patient because they were short-handed on staff.  Sure enough, it took over an hour for our food to come after we ordered.  It was good, and we weren’t in a hurry, so I guess that was OK.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 25            Infected                   Died

World             213,496,359           4,463,882

US                     38,965,741              648,126

Virginia                747,640                11,715  

Augusta County       6,845                       84  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,843,846  (4,781,159 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.4% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 55.9% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        70,386  (36,075 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.7% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  And, Augusta had almost 50 new cases again in the past 24 hours.  Not good.

August 26, 2021

Another day of tennis disappointment.  I played early this morning with Darrell Miller, Randy Simmons, and Pat Peason.  I won only one of three sets.  I usually can count on winning my serve; today I lost it four consecutive times.  All in all I didn’t play that poorly but I just played badly on the important points.  Good players up their game when the score is deuce.  I didn’t do that today.

After tennis I went to Kroger to get a prescription for Lynn then I went to Central to do more work.  I finished up there fairly soon and came home.

Lynn had a very busy day today.  She walked very early with Pat Collins then had her Cheryl friends over.  Then she went to Cub Run Elementary to interpret followed by an interpreting session at Lacey Spring Elementary School.  Then she drove back to McGaheysville Elementary to talk the ELL folks there.  For a retired person she sure works a lot!

I wrote all of the above before mid-afternoon.  Then came this text from Pat Peason:  Sorry my beloved tennis friends doctor from Augusta called me today and said I tested positive that the first test wasn’t in depth enough having said that my symptoms started 7 days ago I’m on day 8 so by Sunday I’ll be totally symptom free and have this behind me but I felt I had to let you know for the three that I played with today.  Pat told me earlier in the week that he hadn’t felt well and went to the doctor on Tuesday where he supposedly had a negative COVID test.  That’s why he played today. 

So since that moment I’ve done nothing but worry….  I don’t want anything to interfere with our Oregon trip next week.  And, of course, I don’t want anything more serious than what he went through to happen to me.  With Lynn in McGaheysville this afternoon we both immediately started worrying about Freddie whose bus arrived here at 3:18 today.  I worked out a plan for us to try to stay outside the entire time.  We played baseball, he rode his bike, and got his own treat from the garage.  Lynn got home around 4:00 and took Freddie home around 5:00. 

In the meantime, several other things were happening.  The neighbors, the Parrish’s, were having their driveway paved.  The big trucks, rollers, and pavers kept a steady roar next to us.  Then, Danny Link came over to discuss the rezoning issue with us.  He seemed to be very supportive of what we were doing, unlike the Parrish’s. 

Danny told us some disturbing news about his wife, Debbie.  She had a stroke a few years ago.  He said that now her memory is falling apart, she can’t recall how to do basic things such as cutting the vacuum cleaner on.  She won’t leave the house except to go to church.  She is constantly worried about being left alone.  Sad…

And while these events were happening, the US experienced the bombing at the airport in Afghanistan where thirteen US soldiers were killed. 

The more I think back to tennis this morning, I don’t think I was within five feet of Pat the entire time.  His symptoms started eight days ago and obviously he was over them by today because he played, and played well.  He didn’t cough or sneeze at all.  So maybe I dodged a bullet.  I hope so.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 26            Infected                   Died

World             215,362,511           4,485,543

US                     39,296,231              650,906

Virginia                751,132                11,729  

Augusta County       6,921                       84  

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,864,091  (4,790,949 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.5% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.1% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        70,550  (36,138 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 47.8% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Augusta had 76 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Our area is clearly a COVID-19 hotbed.

With the scare I’ve been involved in today, these numbers are just another reminder of how tentative all of our health is nowadays.  Pat Peason wrote that his doctor told him that “she seems to think that everybody’s going to get this just a matter of time.”   I guess there’s comfort in the fact that I’m fully vaccinated which is supposed to greatly lessen the severity of COVID-19 if I get it.  Supposedly, symptoms start from two to fourteen days after exposure so the next two weeks will be a nervous waiting game for me.  

I just read the CDC recommendations about exposure.  It says “If you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative.”  I looked up their definition of close contact.  It is being within six feet for a total of at least 15 minutes.  There’s no way I was within six feet of Pat for even five minutes cumulative today.  We weren’t wearing masks but we were outside, of course.  Perhaps I’ll think about getting a test on Monday before we leave for Oregon.

August 27, 2021

Today was a long and interesting day.  I began with a trip to Rice Tire at 7:00 AM to get the four new tires put on my Civic that I had ordered on Tuesday.  What a difference in how the car now rides!  Before the ride was loud, vibrating, and rough.  Now it is smooth.  I drove it all the way to near Huntington WV today as we came for the Cupcake Festival in Hurricane WV.

We made a few stops along the way here.  Besides restroom stops, the first real stop was at J. Q Dickinson Salt Works near Charleston.  Lynn has been wanting to come there for years.  They are the only authentic salt dealer we’ve ever been to.  We got a tour when we got there and found out that salt has been produced there for almost two hundred years.  It turns out that when you pump water from a few hundred feet down, it is salt water.  They dry the salt water out and market the salt in a variety of ways.  They also make caramel.  After our tour we got several of their products, mainly to give as gifts.  It was an interesting tour though we were the only two people on the tour.

We had lunch at a Cook Out in Charleston.  Lynn loves their milkshakes.  Then we came on to our hotel near Huntington, a nice Hampton Inn.  After we unloaded, we headed back east for about 15 miles to Hurricane.  It is an interesting town.  Unlike many we’ve seen in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, it was not the least bit run down.  The high school there was very large school with almost 1,300 students.  The town had a fantastic park where the Cupcake Festival was held.  It had a huge water park, multiple ball fields, tennis courts, expansive playground, etc. 

The Cupcake Festival only had a few things going on this evening.  There were 6 – 8 cupcake vendors there.  We were told that they had to make 200 cupcakes each for Friday night and at least 600 for Saturday.  We bought six.  I had one for my dessert tonight.  I guess we’ll take the others home.

We came on back to the hotel, dropped the cupcakes off so they wouldn’t melt, then went to a nearby restaurant named Fat Patty’s.  Lynn had a hamburger with jalapenos, cream cheese, and a raspberry melba sauce.  I had an Italian sandwich.  Actually we each only ate half of our sandwiches and saved the other half because we had ordered an appetizer of bacon cheddar fries that the desk clerk at the Hampton Inn had recommended to us.  It turns out that appetizers were on sale at ½ off so we got another one to take back to her as a surprise. 

After coming back to the hotel, Lynn wanted to walk a little since we had ridden in the car most of the day.  We had hoped to walk at the park where the Cupcake Festival was being held but it was terribly hot here this afternoon.  It turns out that we were only ½ mile from the Huntington Mall.  It was an indoor mall so we went to walk there.  It turns out that this mall was enormous and, unlike the malls around us, was thriving with stores and people.  I’m not sure why this mall is doing so well when malls in Harrisonburg and Roanoke are dying.  The mall in Staunton isn’t dying, it is dead and is being torn down.

All in all we had a good day today, visiting some places we’d never been to before and enjoying our quick trip.  Tomorrow morning we’ll walk in the Cupcake Festival 5K walk, shop with the vendors there, then head home in time to make it to a production of Shenanarts, Always Patsy Cline.

I’ve felt fine today and hope that my worries from yesterday were unfounded.  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

August 27            Infected                   Died

World             216,161,806           4,497,680

US                     39,539,133              653,397

Virginia                754,652                11,769  

Augusta County       7,032                       87 

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,883,307  (4,799,765 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.7% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.2% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        70,752  (36,247 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  Augusta had 111 new cases in the past 24 hours!  Worst, Augusta had three additional deaths in the past 24 hours.  I looked back at the March statistics.  There it was typical for Augusta to have 6 – 10 new cases daily.  This is not good!

August 28, 2021

This long day started at 5:30 in a hotel near Huntington WV and ended at a fantastic show in the old Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton.  Between all kinds of things happened.

We had to get up early because our hotel was about 20 minutes away from Hurricane where the Cupcake Festival 5K was being held.  The race/walk started at 8:00 but we had to pick up our shirts, race numbers, etc. well before that.  Not wanting to eat or drink much beforehand, we had very little in the way of breakfast.  I had a half a cup of coffee (about ten times less than normal for me) and one piece of toast.  Lynn had just a few sips of sweet tea.  We got to the park in plenty of time.

The 5K was a contrast to the one at the North Carolina Watermelon Festival.  There, Lynn and I were two of only a half dozen walkers; everyone else was a runner.  At the Cupcake Festival 5K, the numbers were reversed.  Both had about 60 – 80 participants but the one today was mostly done by walkers.  Plus, some had cupcake costumes on.  The 5K included the option to pick up a cupcake at the halfway mark, put icing on it at a station a little further on, then put sprinkles on at another station near the end.  The big issue was the heat.  Although it started at 8:00, much of it was on an unshaded path and it was miserably hot.  The cupcakes were not in very good shape by the time we got to the end.  There they were judged and, no surprise, we didn’t win anything.

Our time was similar to the one in North Carolina, around 55:00 for the 3.2 mile walk.  This route today had some hills on it.  As a reward for finishing, we were given water and, of course, another cupcake.  That was breakfast.

We waited around until the vendor part of the Cupcake Festival started.  It was supposed to have started at 11:00 but most were ready to display and sell before then so we got an early start.  We bought a dozen and a half donuts from a booth from Huntington High School Culinary Department.  When we got back here, Lynn gave most of them away to Ann & family, Kay Carter, Cheryl Kent, and Cheryl & Bogie Wright. 

When we had finished visiting the vendors we walked to our car and had another surprise.  The back drivers’ side tire was nearly flat.  The tires were one day old!  They are guaranteed to last 84,000 miles and this one was flat in only 250 miles.  Fortunately, because I had issues with the previous set of tires, I had a pump in the trunk that ran off power to the cigarette lighter so I was able to get it pumped back up and the tire pressure monitor recalibrated.  We nervously started home.

We hadn’t gone five miles until the low tire pressure indicator came on again.  Lynn quickly found a tire dealer, Marty’s Tire Store in Nitro WV, only a few miles down I-64.  We called them.   It was right at 11:00 and the man said they closed at 12:00 but could look at our tire if we could get there.  We were also concerned because it was so hot and we had those cupcakes in our car that we didn’t want to melt.  So we took them into the tire place’s waiting room with us.  The fellow there was unbelievably good to us.  He actually found nothing wrong with our tire though he took it off the car and checked both the tire and the valve for leaks.  He also checked the pressure in the other three tires and re-set the calibration for us.  Whatever he did worked; we were able to make it the entire rest of the way without any tire issues whatsoever.  When we got our keys back from him, I asked him how much we owed him for his time.  Nothing, he said.  Lynn and I promised that we would try to find a way to send him a pizza gift card soon especially since there was a Gino’s Pizza right next to his shop. 

The rest of our trip was very uneventful and actually was a pretty drive in the hot sun.  We stopped for a milkshake at the Cook Out in Beckley on our way and made it home by 3:30.

By the time we had unloaded and unwound a bit, it was time to eat a quick dinner then get ready for the Shenanarts Show.  Always Patsy Cline is a show Lynn and I have seen multiple times but never tire of.  We both love her music so much and this show has a lot of humor with it, too.  The two women who performed tonight in Staunton were superb.  Patsy was played by Brittany Kislek whom we had not heard before.  Her voice was phenomenal.  Louise was played by Kathy LaFon whose music we have heard many times.  She is superbly talented, too.  It was a fantastic show.  We sat with Cheryl and Bogie Wright.

I didn’t have a chance to check the local or national news to find out what went on in the world and area today but nonetheless here are the COVID-19 statistics:

August 28            Infected                   Died

World             216,748,018           4,507,840

US                     39,617,417              654,381

Virginia                754,652                11,769  Not updated due to the weekend

Augusta County       7,032                       87   Not updated due to the weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,908,903  (4,812,333 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 75.8% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.4% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        71,001  (36,378 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48.1% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.  The number of vaccinations is definitely picking up locally but for some it may be too late.

I got an interesting text from Pat Peason today.  He said that his wife had been tested and was negative, despite being with him nonstop through the time period when he tested positive.  He said that the doctors told him it was extremely rare for COVID-19 to be passed from one vaccinated person to another vaccinated person.  That should make the three of us who played tennis with him last Thursday breathe a sigh of relief.  He said that unvaccinated people pass it to vaccinated people and vaccinated people pass it to the unvaccinated.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

August 29, 2021

Today was a typical Sunday.  I had Sunday School via Zoom first thing then Lynn and I went to Central for the 11:00 service.  Our congregation had combined with those from Jollivue United Methodist for today’s service; the guest speaker was the new District Director of Congregational Excellence, Dale White. 

Afterwards, we came home, at lunch which was actually provided by Central, then did some preliminary sorting through the things we want to take to Oregon. 

After that, I decided to cut our grass.  It was quite high since we’ve gotten lots of rain recently.  I wanted to wait until the last moment to cut it since we won’t be back here until September 15.  By then it will be a jungle, I’m afraid.  I got it all cut and even did some weed whacking and push mowing.  I hope it doesn’t grow too much over the next 18 days.

Lynn had a party tonight with several of her girlfriends so I had the Gutshall family by myself.  I went to Vito’s Pizza Pie and got three pizzas for dinner.  There were just enough pieces left over for Lynn and me to have dinner tomorrow night, too, so we won’t have to cook before leaving on our trip.

Kay has tried to talk us into staying with her Tuesday night instead of at the Hilton Garden Inn near Reagan Airport.  We’re not sure what to do now and will need to decide by midnight tomorrow in order to not be liable for any costs.

We’ve learned that our neighbor, Dana Parrish, was involved in a serious auto accident yesterday.  She is hospitalized with two broken arms, one broken leg, and some lacerations.  But she is expected to make a full recovery and may be released from the hospital tomorrow.  Lynn talked to Doug tonight; she is making dinner for the family for tomorrow night.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

August 29            Infected                   Died

World             217,175,397           4,514,235

US                     39,664,831              654,689

Virginia                754,652                11,769  Not updated due to the weekend

Augusta County       7,032                       87   Not updated due to the weekend

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,929,759  (4,823,018 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 76.0% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.5% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        71,130  (36,443 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48.2% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.

An amusing, but perhaps true, Facebook post today said “if you’re not getting vaccinated because you’re afraid your DNA will be altered, for you it might not be that bad of an idea.”

August 30, 2021

A good bit of today was spent getting ready for our Oregon trip.  I’ve actually got my suitcase completely packed now.  We’re each taking one carry-on suitcase and one backpack. 

Kay talked us into staying with her tomorrow night so I canceled the Hilton Garden Inn reservation.  We’re going to drive to her house in time to see Thomas and Georgia when they come home from school.  Both kids have busy afternoons after that and we’ll see them only in short segments. 

This morning I spent four hours at Central taking care of Treasurer’s duties.  I paid and mailed bills, made the deposit from yesterday’s offering, set up Payroll for September 15, paid our monthly federal taxes, entered all of the individual offerings into the Servant Keeper software, and prepared materials for us to be reimbursed for the purchase of an awning from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  I asked Pastor Won to just let the bills accumulate until I get back mid-September.

Lynn spent the entire day at McGaheysville Elementary School.  Apparently they have over a dozen ELL students with no teacher nor tutor.  She’ll be returning there lots after we get back from Oregon, I suspect.

I was here when Freddie’s bus came.  Actually Betsy got off the bus with him.  Ann then came and took Betsy to Waynesboro for her choir practice while Freddie and I played Wii.  Eventually I took Freddie home.  And when Ann brought Betsy home after her choir practice, she brought milkshakes from Cook Out to Lynn and me.  Yum!

Tonight we went to Walgreens in Verona.  I needed some travel shaving cream and travel toothpaste.  The TSA has a limit of 3.4 ounces for items like that so I needed to buy some small sized ones.

Here are today’s COVID-19 stats:

August 30            Infected                   Died

World             217,866,804           4,522,938

US                     39,945,431              656,376

Virginia                762,948                11,810  

Augusta County       7,282                       87   

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,943,774  (4,830,302 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 76.1% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.6% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        71,205  (36,469 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.

August 31, 2021

Today was our final day of preparation before leaving for Oregon.  I had lots of chores to take care of but I think I got them all done.  First I made a run to the dump loaded with our trash and the Gutshall’s.  Then I went to Central and filled up a large box of food for Elizabeth and her family.  They stopped by our house later in the morning and picked it up.

My next stop was at the bank in Bridgewater where I got money for our trip plus for our three children’s spouses, all of whom have birthdays this week.

Next I took Lynn to have a pedicure and while she was having that, I got some birthday cards and a few other items for our trip.  I picked her up and we went home and ate lunch.  By 12:30 we were on our way to Arlington.

Even then we had a couple of stops to make.  Lynn had some timesheets to turn in to the Rockingham County School Board office.  Finally we headed north on I-81 but stopped at the Target in Front Royal so Lynn could get a few things she needed for the trip.  We got to Kay’s house around 3:30, just in time to join her to meet Thomas and Georgia at their bus stop. 

We came home and played a game with Georgia and Kay, Code Names.  It was a fun word game.  The kids then both had soccer practice; Lynn and I ran to the drug store nearby to get some last minute items.  Then we had a very nice dinner with the entire Foy family. 

Thomas and Georgia are so much fun to be around.  They are both smart, humorous, and mature for their ages.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers.  I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to keep up with this over the next two weeks.

August 31            Infected                   Died

World             218,540,994           4,533,609

US                     40,144,099              657,910

Virginia                766,435                11,842  

Augusta County       7,335                       88   

            Vaccinated

Virginia 9,959,695  (4,838,481 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.  That’s 76.2% of the adult population who have at least one shot, 56.6% of the total population fully vaccinated) 

            Augusta County        71,247  (36,481 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, Henry, and Gus.)    But only 48.3% of the Augusta County population is fully vaccinated now.   Augusta’s cases are way up again today.  I’m somewhat glad to be out of the county for the next two weeks.

 

July 2021: Life in the COVID-19 Era

July 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 1                Infected                   Died

World             183,408,407           3,971,381

US                     34,561,403              620,645

Virginia                680,564                11,419

Augusta County       5,988                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

July 2                   Infected                   Died

World             183,933,740           3,981,758

US                     34,580,198              621,161

Virginia                680,744                11,423

Augusta County       5,987                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 3                   Infected                   Died

World             184,231,181           3,987,155

US                     34,588,176              621,255

Virginia                680,904                11,423

Augusta County       5,989                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 4                   Infected                   Died

World             184,566,950           3,993,511

US                     34,592,377              621,293

Virginia                681,072                11,427

Augusta County       5,991                       79

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

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

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

July 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 5                   Infected                   Died

World             184,923,557           4,000,520

US                     34,598,361              621,335

Virginia                681,194                11,431

Augusta County       5,991                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 6                   Infected                   Died

World             185,350,158           4,008,460

US                     34,616,333              621,563

Virginia                681,326                11,434

Augusta County       6,000                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 7                   Infected                   Died

World             185,806,567           4,016,795

US                     34,638,536              621,763

Virginia                681,599                11,436

Augusta County       6,001                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 8                   Infected                   Died

World             186,302,158           4,025,643

US                     34,675,895              622,211

Virginia                681,890                11,441

Augusta County       5,994                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 9                   Infected                   Died

World             186,796,571           4,034,380

US                     34,707,293              622,664

Virginia                682,147                11,448

Augusta County       5,991                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 10                 Infected                   Died

World             187,263,125           4,042,632

US                     34,726,111              622,821

Virginia                682,433                11,450

Augusta County       5,979                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

 Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 11                 Infected                   Died

World             187,632,756           4,049,071

US                     34,732,753              622,845

Virginia                682,673                11,450

Augusta County       5,983                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 12                 Infected                   Died

World             188,046,864           4,055,442

US                     34,765,501              623,022

Virginia                682,856                11,450

Augusta County       5,983                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 13, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 13                 Infected                   Died

World             188,693,726           4,067,171

US                     34,807,813              623,435

Virginia                683,202                11,459

Augusta County       5,985                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 14, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 14                 Infected                   Died

World             189,113,217           4,073,561

US                     34,840,655              623,744

Virginia                683,614                11,467

Augusta County       5,984                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 15                 Infected                   Died

World             189,695,883           4,082,564

US                     34,883,756              624,184

Virginia                684,054                11,471

Augusta County       5,977                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 16                 Infected                   Died

World             190,250,695           4,090,953

US                     34,924,758              624,488

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,996                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

 

July 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 17                 Infected                   Died

World             190,702,044           4,097,432

US                     34,952,809              624,711

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,976                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 18                 Infected                   Died

World             191,194,672           4,105,356

US                     34,963,439              624,746

Virginia                684,499                11,477

Augusta County       5,976                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 19                 Infected                   Died

World             191,683,822           4,112,517

US                     35,013,136              624,967

Virginia                685,485                11,483

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 20                 Infected                   Died

World             192,203,417           4,123,976

US                     35,076,925             625,244f

Virginia                686,206                11,487

Augusta County       5,996                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 21                 Infected                   Died

World             192,787,141           4,141,890

US                     35,144,784              625,808

Virginia                686,884                11,491

Augusta County       6,000                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 22                 Infected                   Died

World             193,351,671           4,150,571

US                     35,204,523              626,157

Virginia                687,550                11,493

Augusta County       5,992                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 23, 2021

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 23                 Infected                   Died

World             194,009,770           4,159,507

US                     35,283,050              626,658

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

July 24, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 24                 Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 25                 Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                688,300                11,500

Augusta County       5,986                       79

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 26                Infected                   Died

World             194,487,587           4,167,327

US                     35,316,255              626,700

Virginia                690,183                11,506

Augusta County       6,000                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

July 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 27                 Infected                   Died

World             195,922,184           4,192,177

US                     35,343,829              627,379

Virginia                691,018                11,515

Augusta County       6,009                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 28, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 28                 Infected                   Died

World             196,627,286           4,202,565

US                     35,475,873              628,083

Virginia                692,105                11,522

Augusta County       6,019                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 29                 Infected                   Died

World             197,305,800           4,213,045

US                     35,577,109              628,468

Virginia                693,206                11,525

Augusta County       6,026                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

July 30                 Infected                   Died

World             197,963,690           4,223,253

US                     35,688,204              628,933

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

July 31, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

July 31                 Infected                   Died

World             198,547,026           4,232,892

US                     35,745,024              629,315

Virginia                694,384                11,532

Augusta County       6,031                       80

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

June 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

June 1                  Infected                   Died

World             171,914,540           3,575,480

US                     34,136,738              610,432

Virginia                675,597                11,194

Augusta County       5,903                       73

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 stats:

June 2                  Infected                   Died

World             172,401,053           3,705,830

US                     34,153,469              610,992

Virginia                675,783                11,206

Augusta County       5,908                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

June 3                  Infected                   Died

World             172,866,909           3,716,337

US                     34,173,772              611,568

Virginia                676,041                11,216

Augusta County       5,919                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 4                  Infected                   Died

World             173,299,543           3,726,665

US                     34,191,157              612,197

Virginia                676,300                11,222

Augusta County       5,935                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 5                  Infected                   Died

World             173,698,523           3,735,559

US                     34,203,497              612,194

Virginia                676,586                11,229

Augusta County       5,947                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 6                  Infected                   Died

World             174,034,257           3,743,188

US                     34,210,226              612,363

Virginia                676,741                11,236

Augusta County       5,950                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 7                  Infected                   Died

World             174,370,325           3,751,893

US                     34,227,237              612,701

Virginia                676,831                11,245

Augusta County       5,950                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 8                  Infected                   Died

World             174,720,620           3,761,763

US                     34,241,561              613,122

Virginia                677,013                11,253

Augusta County       5,953                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 9                  Infected                   Died

World             175,156,823           3,776,244

US                     34,264,727              613,507

Virginia                677,210                11,260

Augusta County       5,957                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 10                Infected                   Died

World             175,603,577           3,788,195

US                     34,275,783              613,920

Virginia                677,425                11,270

Augusta County       5,957                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 11                Infected                   Died

World             176,031,891           3,800,283

US                     34,306,446              614,738

Virginia                677,530                11,283

Augusta County       5,959                       74

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 12                Infected                   Died

World             176,385,420           3,810,065

US                     34,315,867              615,037

Virginia                677,671                11,293

Augusta County       5,959                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 13, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 13                Infected                   Died

World             176,701,361           3,818,937

US                     34,321,093              615,053

Virginia                677,744                11,307

Augusta County       5,963                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 14, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 14                Infected                   Died

World             177,020,386           3,827,430

US                     34,335,192              615,225

Virginia                677,812                11,318

Augusta County       5,966                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 15                Infected                   Died

World             177,364,366           3,836,857

US                     34,350,203              615,680

Virginia                677,949                11,328

Augusta County       5,972                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 16                Infected                   Died

World             177,787,192           3,848,158

US                     34,366,073              616,144

Virginia                678,226                11,330

Augusta County       5,977                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

June 17                Infected                   Died

World             178,183,638           3,857,474

US                     34,377,281              616,430

Virginia                678,392                11,336

Augusta County       5,978                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

June 18                Infected                   Died

World             178,596,745           3,866,862

US                     34,393,269              616,920

Virginia                678,506                11,342

Augusta County       5,977                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

June 19                Infected                   Died

World             178,936,789           3,874,803

US                     34,401,206              617.079

Virginia                678,595                11,343

Augusta County       5,975                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 20                Infected                   Died

World             179,239,830           3,881,538

US                     34,406,001              617,166

Virginia                678,649                11,351

Augusta County       5,975                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 21                Infected                   Died

World             179,534,750           3,888,357

US                     34,419,838              617,463

Virginia                678,765                11,360

Augusta County       5,975                       75

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

June 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 22                Infected                   Died

World             179,910,559           3,897,368

US                     34,434,081              617,864

Virginia                678,909                11,367

Augusta County       5,976                       76

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 23, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 23                Infected                   Died

World             180,341,403           3,906,629

US                     34,448,137              618,278

Virginia                679,137                11,368

Augusta County       5,982                       76

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 24, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 24                Infected                   Died

World             180,739,556           3,915,122

US                     34,463,714              618,616

Virginia                679,330                11,378

Augusta County       5,984                       77

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

June 25, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 25                Infected                   Died

World             181,162,689           3,924,553

US                     34,482,142              619,147

Virginia                679,472                11,389

Augusta County       5,984                       77

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 26                Infected                   Died

World             181,533,020           3,932,451

US                     34,489,649              619,343

Virginia                679,680                11,392

Augusta County       5,982                       77

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

June 27                Infected                   Died

World             181,861,268           3,938,817

US                     34,494,677              619,424

Virginia                679,829                11,397

Augusta County       5,985                       77

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 28, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 28                Infected                   Died

World             181,179,904           3,945,087

US                     34,511,363              619,592

Virginia                679,917                11,402

Augusta County       5,984                       77

            Vaccinated

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

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

June 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

June 28                Infected                   Died

World             182,580,354           3,953,846

US                     34,527,493              619,980

Virginia                680,065                11,412

Augusta County       5,986                       78

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

May 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 1                   Infected                   Died

World             152,782,495           3,205,670

US                     33,145,463              590,700

Virginia                660,553                10,777

Augusta County       5,727                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 2                   Infected                   Died

World             153,478,505           3,216,128

US                     33,145,463              590,700

Virginia                661,314                10,791

Augusta County       5,726                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 3                   Infected                   Died

World             154,173,758           3,226,727

US                     33,230,136              591,512

Virginia                661,925                10,807

Augusta County       5,726                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, the good news is not world-wide: 

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

May 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 details:

May 4                   Infected                   Died

World             154,947,338           3,239,744

US                     33,271,708              592,354

Virginia                662,696                10,823

Augusta County       5,730                       70

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 5                   Infected                   Died

World             155,813,271           3,254,877

US                     33,320,979              593,134

Virginia                663,538                10,844

Augusta County       5,743                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

May 6                   Infected                   Died

World             156,654,032           3,268,534

US                     33,364,941              593,970

Virginia                664,394                10,861

Augusta County       5,748                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 7                   Infected                   Died

World             157,525,451           3,283,197

US                     33,418,437              594,908

Virginia                665,332                10,874

Augusta County       5,756                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 8                   Infected                   Died

World             158,295,493           3,295,856

US                     33,452,499              595,574

Virginia                661,111                10,885

Augusta County       5,774                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 9                   Infected                   Died

World             158,954,447           3,306,240

US                     33,476,803              595,812

Virginia                666,650                10,895

Augusta County       5,776                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 13, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

May 14, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 14                 Infected                   Died

World             162,500,854           3,370,362

US                     33,657,689              599,265

Virginia                669,219                10,991

Augusta County       5,814                       71

            Vaccinated

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

            Augusta County        Data not available due to server maintenance.

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

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

May 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 15                 Infected                   Died

World             163,161,480           3,382,985

US                     33,695,503              599,844

Virginia                             Data not available

Augusta County                Data not available

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                                  Data not available       

            Augusta County                    Data not available

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

May 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 16                 Infected                   Died

World             163,698,954           3,392,776

US                     33,713,089              600,139

Virginia                670,184                11,018

Augusta County       5,820                       71

            Vaccinated

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

            Augusta County        Data not available

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

May 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

May 17                 Infected                   Died

World             164,262,507           3,403,994

US                     33,747,391              600,529

Virginia                670,456                11,029

Augusta County       5,825                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 18                 Infected                   Died

World             164,879,264           3,418,033

US                     33,774,153              601,311

Virginia                670,834                11,042

Augusta County       5,827                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

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

May 19. 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are today’s improving coronavirus statistics:

May 19                 Infected                   Died

World             165,549,323           3,431,495

US                     33,802,324              601,949

Virginia                671,325                11,048

Augusta County       5,838                       71

            Vaccinated

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

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

May 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

The Gutshall kids only have three more days of school this year:  tomorrow, Monday, and Tuesday.  We learned tonight that we’re going to have company this weekend—Georgia and Thomas are going to spend Saturday and Sunday nights with us.  That will give Kay and Andy a bit of a break and we’ll enjoy the company of these two grandchildren.  I think we’ll meet Kay in Front Royal sometime this Saturday to pick them up.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 20                 Infected                   Died

World             165,835,297           3,444,303

US                     33,833,181              602,616

Virginia                671,916                11,068

Augusta County       5,843                       72

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,673,597  (3,499,980 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        59,607  (29,274 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 21, 2021

It felt good to get back on the tennis court this morning with Won Un, Marc Kinder, and Rob Cale.  I didn’t play very well but the weather and the company both were nice.  My right shoulder still hasn’t healed so serving is painful.  My other bodily ailments are generally healed now but not my shoulder.  Some people have rotator cuff issues but I’m not sure mine is that because I can lift my arm up high without much pain but serving a tennis ball hurts.

After tennis I went to Kroger to check on a prescription I called in to be refilled on Monday. You’d think that by Friday they would have it ready but no, not Kroger.  It was just a prescription for Symbicort, my inhaler, so it involved no measuring, counting, or packaging.  I told the pharmacy tech that I would just wait on it to be filled.  It took over 30 more minutes.

After I got home I felt a little guilty that I had done no work so I attached the cart to my lawn mower, picked up a bunch of sticks in the yard, raked a lot of dead grass and piled it in the cart, and took two cart-loads of this to the edge of our property.  I also brought the remains of a  small tree Jim and I had cut down last year and used my chainsaw to cut it into manageable sizes which fit in the truck for tomorrow’s trash run.  It was plenty hot by the time I finished.

Freddie and Betsy got here at their usual time, 3:15.  There are only two more days of school for Augusta County students, this coming Monday and Tuesday.  Not long after they got here Josh picked them up.

Lynn and I ate an early dinner then went into Staunton to walk a lap around Gypsy Hill Park.  It was a fairly hot night but the park has plenty of shade so it didn’t feel bad.

After watching four soccer games in the past five days, we elected to not go to Ceci’s game tonight.  Instead, after our walk in the park, we elected to come home and watch another week of the TV drama, Atlantic Crossing .  We’ve previously watched the first half dozen episodes of it.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 21                 Infected                   Died

World             166,436,464           3,456,590

US                     33,858,908              603,373

Virginia                672,312                11,074

Augusta County       5,849                       72

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,760,493  (3,545,104 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        59,896  (29,414 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

May 22, 2021

I had thought about painting the steps for the playground which Jim rebuilt earlier this year but it turns out that we don’t have any leftover redwood stain so that job got put on the back burner.  I did go to Central early in the morning to get a box of food for Juan Pablo.  While I was there, I paid a bunch of bills and set up the payroll for the last half of May.  Because the last day of May is a Monday and a holiday, I had to set up the payroll to pay the employees on May 28 instead of May 31.

Lynn went to some garage sales in McGaheysville this morning with Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent.  I love doing things with her but I’m glad she has others to go to garage sales with.  But she did have a great find at one of the places—she got a Sharon Kincheloe print of a Jack-in-the-Pulpit for only 25¢!  We have Sharon Kincheloe prints of wild flowers throughout our living room but not the Jack-in-the-Pulpit.  Sharon was a classmate of Lynn’s at Robert E. Lee High School. 

When I got home I finished writing the congregational prayer for tomorrow and did my weekly trash run.  Then Lynn and I took the box of food to Juan Pablo, ate lunch, and did minor things in the afternoon until it was time to head north.

We made arrangements to meet Kay, Thomas, and Georgia in Front Royal at 6:00 at a park for the kid hand-off.  We left a little early so Lynn could return some things to T J Maxx.  We got to the park a little before 6:00 and they arrived a little after.  They had brought some sandwiches from Sheetz and as soon as they ate them we were headed back here.  Georgia was a little wimpy about leaving her Mom but she talked to us the entire way back and I think she’ll be fine for the two nights they’ll be staying with us.

Well, we didn’t go straight home.  We came directly to Smiley’s where we all enjoyed an ice cream dessert.  Thomas had cookies and cream while the rest of us had salted caramel chocolate chunk.

We got home shortly after 9:00.  The kids headed for the showers then to bed.  They are both so talkative, so smart, and so observant.  I’m so glad they’re spending the extra time with us.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

May 22                 Infected                   Died

World             167,029,906           3,468,045

US                     33,880,968              603,868

Virginia                672,973                11,097

Augusta County       5,857                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,824,278  (3,582,450 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        60,114  (29,538 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

At more and more places, especially outdoors, people are abandoning their masks.  I assume this is because they are fully vaccinated.  Last night at the Waynesboro park we saw at least 100 people and I’m not sure I saw anyone wearing a mask.  Tonight at Smiley’s less than half of the people in line wore a mask.  This is quite a contrast from a month ago when everyone wore masks.  But I suppose if they have been fully vaccinated there’s no risk to themselves or others for going maskless.

May 23, 2021

What a busy day!  This was the only full day with Georgia and Thomas so we took good advantage of it.  They were up early as were Lynn and I.  After breakfast, I had Sunday School via Zoom then I had to go to church because I was scheduled to do the Congregational Prayer.  So Lynn took the kids on a hike hoping to see Winnie, our neighborhood pig, but she was nowhere in sight.

When I got back from church the real business started.  First we made arrangements for the four of us to join the Gutshall family (minus Henry who had something else to do) at the Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel.  It took us about an hour to get there because we had to stop to buy more flashlights.  And it was in the mid-80’s when we started walking toward the tunnel from the East Terminus.  Boy did the temperature cool as we approached the tunnel!  There was a sign outside which advertised the tunnel as “Virginia’s Coolest Hike” which was for good reason.

The nine of us had no troubles walking through the mile-long tunnel though we couldn’t have made it without our flashlights.  Lynn and I had been here before, on January 5.  The kids seemed to have a good time.

Coming back was my favorite time of the weekend, maybe of the entire month.  The kids switched cars around so Betsy and Georgia ended up riding with us and the boys were in Ann’s car.  For the entire way back, including a stop at Aldi’s for some quick groceries, Georgia and Betsy giggled in the back seat.  It was a WONDERFUL sound to hear them laughing.  I just can’t put into print how good that made me feel to hear the two of them giggling.

We got back home and Lynn fixed a huge dinner consisting of two types of pasta and three toppings (marinara without meat, marinara with meatballs, and Alfredo sauce), a nice salad, and homemade rolls.  Henry joined us for dinner. 

After dinner, the kids played in the backyard some but soon we had them loaded in the cars heading for the Bridgewater miniature golf course.  Ann, Lynn, and Josh didn’t play but the seven others of us did.  We all had a good time.  We then followed that up with a trip to Smiley’s for dessert.  Whew!  I know I was exhausted at the end of the day and I suspect the kids were, too.

Back home, Georgia and Thomas showered then got in bed nicely.  I did the dishes from our huge dinner for ten and worked on uploading the 100 pictures I had taken today to Flickr.  It was a mighty fine day.

I haven’t kept up with the news today but here are the coronavirus numbers:

May 23                 Infected                   Died

World             167,516,369           3,478,187

US                     33,896,660              604,087

Virginia                673,029                11,106

Augusta County       5,861                       73

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            7,873,269  (3,610,884 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan.)    

            Augusta County        60,202  (29,584 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, Ann, and Henry.  Gus is halfway there.)

The number of infected persons and deaths continues to drop, thankfully.  I certainly do hope we’re about to put this pandemic behind us.

May 24, 2021

We’re back to a two-person household tonight after two enjoyable nights hosting Thomas and Georgia.  I confess to being a little worn out because those two are full of energy.  We spent another day with non-stop activities with them.

I had to go to Central this morning to count the weekly offering, pay a bill, enter the deposit on QuickBooks, run two reports for May, and enter the individual giving records in the program called Servant Keeper.  I didn’t get back home until 10:30.

By that time, Thomas and Georgia had logged onto their school assignments and completed them since today was a virtual school day for them.  So when I got home they were ready to go.   We piled in Lynn’s car and went to Overlook Produce in Bridgewater where all four of us picked strawberries.  Then we came back home and had lunch.  For our lunch dessert we enjoyed a most delicious serving of fresh strawberries with homemade whipped cream.  Yum!

After our treat, and before it rained, Thomas, Georgia, and I played tennis.  They had brought their rackets with them.  We came back in just before the rain started.  They played a little Wii before it was time to meet the school bus carrying Freddie and Betsy.  The four of them played until Ann came around 4:15.  Then it was time for Lynn and I to take Thomas and Georgia to Front Royal to meet Kay.  We picked up dinner for Thomas and Georgia at the Sheetz in Front Royal and met Kay at 6:00 at Rockland Park where we had met on Saturday.  Soon Lynn and I were on our way back home and they were headed to their home in Arlington.

On our way home, Lynn and I stopped at Cracker Barrel in Harrisonburg to eat.  We had our usual country ham with biscuits and apples (Lynn opted for hashbrowns instead).   Kay texted us that they had gotten home OK and we did the same when we got back here shortly after 9:00.

Those two kids are so bright!