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.

April 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

April 1, 2021

What a cold, blustery day!  The high today was in the low 40’s with a stiff winter wind and blowing snow at times.  Quite an un-spring like first day of April!

As a result, I didn’t get any outside exercise today which I badly need.  I did ride my bike on the trainer for an hour this morning and walked with Lynn at the Harrisonburg mall for about two miles tonight.  I’m still way out of shape.

We were going to go to Brazil this year but tonight’s news showed how they are having nearly 4,000 deaths per day due to COVID-19 now and can’t even bury their dead fast enough.  I’m so glad we postponed that trip.  It is called the epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America. 

I didn’t accomplish much today which has been typical for the last few weeks, sadly.  I was able to help Ann’s family out a little by meeting Betsy and Freddie when they rode the bus here after school then going to Fort Defiance to get Gus from his season-end basketball meeting.  Then I took all of them home.  Ann had homecoming activities at Broadway this evening (Brrrr…) so I’m glad I could help them a little.

This afternoon I did play around some with Lynn’s new Venza, discovering some of its net features.  I can not only receive texts and read them to the driver, it can also compose and send texts from the driver’s voice.  It can locate most anything you’d give it voice commands to find (“Find the nearest McDonald’s” or “What are the directions to Kay Foy’s house?” or “What’s the weather forecast tomorrow in Roanoke?”).  It can open the back hatch with a kick of the foot under the car.  It can charge Lynn’s phone without her having to plug it in to one of the four USB ports. 

I did have an extended phone call today with Justin Rexrode, our Edward Jones Financial Representative.  Our retirement funds have done very well under his advisement.  We have about 75% of our investments with Justin at Edward Jones and another 25% with the company aligned with Rockingham County Public Schools, Lincoln Financial.  My dad lived through the Great Depression and always told me to not put all of my eggs in one basket.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 1                  Infected                   Died

World             130,147,630           2,839,127

US                     31,244,497              566,282

Virginia                620,801                10,268

Augusta County       5,399                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,850,838  (1,375,802 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,801  (17,323 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I don’t think it’s surprising that Augusta County’s great increase in vaccinations has led to a dramatic decrease in new cases—only one new case today, no new deaths, and no more hospitalizations.  But the US and world are still under a siege from COVID-19.

April 2, 2021

Today was another frigid day for early April.  At least the forecast over the next week calls for much improved weather.  Tomorrow is our scheduled Easter Egg Hunt; the temperature for tomorrow afternoon is supposed to be in the high 50’s or low 60’s.  Next week we’re supposed to be back in the 70’s.

I need to be riding my bike outside some.  So far I’ve been limited to the trainer set up in the family room downstairs.  At least I can watch CNN while I pedal.  Today I rode for right at one hour.

Lynn had some interpreting to do today.  Her first one was at McGaheysville Elementary School and her second one was from home via Zoom.  I didn’t do a lot while waiting on her but as soon as she got back she and I went to Central and got another large load of food for the Aguirre family.  We also bought a lot of groceries at Kroger for ourselves and our company this weekend.  We then delivered the food to Elizabeth and came home to unload our groceries.   I had to make one more short run to Food Lion to get a few things Kroger didn’t have plus some McDonald’s coupons to send to Jim’s kids tomorrow in their Easter basket Lynn will prepare.

This being Friday, we also went to the Old Schoolhouse Food Truck for our weekly hamburgers.  It was a busy afternoon.

Here is some good news:  Pfizer said Thursday that trials suggest that their vaccine is effective against a coronavirus variant that first emerged in South Africa, which some experts worry might evade existing shots. They also said in a statement that 12,000 people involved in their Phase 3 trial experienced high levels of protection against Covid-19 six months after their second doses, with no serious safety concerns.  The company said Wednesday that their vaccine is safe and effective in teenagers ages 12 to 15. They plan to request emergency use authorization for those ages in the coming weeks.  Pfizer is also studying how well the vaccine works in children ages 6 months to 11 years. The first doses in that trial were administered last week.

Ever since Jim mounted the birdhouses and Lynn filled them with birdseed, the birds have been loving our property.  We’ve had a good mix of bird varieties, all very colorful.  Tonight as I looked out the window I could see a dozen or so birds vying for the seed.  In the Link’s field next to us I could see more than 40 cows and four Alpacas.  In the Mezzoni’s field there were about ten deer feeding.  It is nice to live in the country where humans are way outnumbered by animals!  In other neighbor’s fields we see horses, goats, sheep, and Winnie the pig.

I’ve seen lots of commercials mocking how people becoming their parents.  Prior to this year, Lynn never paid much attention to the birds.  Her mother loved them and spent lots of time watching them.  Well, Lynn has become her Mom.  Maybe watching them somehow reminds her of her mother.  That’s a good thing. 

Henry got the good news tonight that he was accepted into the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School for next year.  Super!  Here’s what their website says:  One of 19 Governor’s Schools in the state of Virginia, the purpose of SVGS is to provide an integrated math, science and technology program and an integrated arts and humanities program in a unique environment.  SVGS has programs and courses designed to meet the unique needs of advanced ability and highly motivated students. Students may attend in one of two broad curriculum areas, Arts & Humanities and Sciences (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

We made some plans today for tomorrow’s family visits.  Kay and her family are expected around 2:00 and have agreed to stay for dinner.  We got some suggestions from her for dinner and also some ideas from Ann.  Jim hopes to join us for dinner.  Here’s what I sent to each of them regarding dinner:  For dinner tomorrow night we’d like to offer that we’ll have pepperoni rolls, pimento cheese sandwiches, fruit, tomato & mozzarella cheese sticks, deviled eggs, potato chips AND we’ll make a run to Chicano Boy to pick up whatever else anyone wants. We have cake for dessert and lemonade, soft drinks, or milk to drink.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 2                  Infected                   Died

World             130,791,581           2,849,974

US                     31,311,321              567,519

Virginia                622,339                10,279

Augusta County       5,399                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,957,289  (1,416,919 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,803  (17,722 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Wow—Augusta County had zero new cases, zero new deaths, and zero new hospitalizations.  I hope this isn’t a data entry error.  The news said that twenty states were experiencing a rise in the number of cases but Virginia was not among them.  Perhaps vaccination is starting to pay off.  The CDC did say today that vaccinated adults should feel safe to travel anywhere within the United States they wanted.  I am concerned that the number of hospitalizations hasn’t decreased in Augusta County.  It remains at 152.  I would have thought some of those hospitalized would have improved and be sent home by now.

April 3, 2021

The weather was better today with temperatures in the 50’s but not as good as it will be tomorrow and the days following.  But at least it sufficed for our family Easter egg hunt.

We’ve had Easter egg hunts at our house for decades.  Last year the pandemic stopped that tradition but today it was revived.  We didn’t have as many kids as usual but we did have six of our eight grandchildren:  Henry, Gus, Betsy, Freddie, Thomas, and Georgia.  Of course, I took lots and lots of pictures.  Lynn fixed a ton of snack and dinner food as I detailed in yesterday’s post.  Since the kids are older now, I made one part of the egg different this year.  I numbered six eggs 1 through 6, put a silver dollar in each, and hid them in some rather difficult places in the back yard.  I also wrote down where I had hidden each of the six so I could provide hints if one or more were unfound.  Actually, I expected most of them to be unfound because I hid them well.  When the kids came, I told them they were allowed to find only one of these special eggs per person.  If they discovered a second one then they had to leave it. 

It worked out well.  They did find about half of the special eggs without any hints.  The hunt was late getting started as they didn’t get here until 3:00 but from 3:00 to 7:00 we had a big family party including lots of food and fun.  Jim came around 5:00.

The six grandchildren played so well outside.  They did everything:  hunted eggs, hid eggs for the adults, played on the playground set, rode big wheels on the tennis court, did crafts with Lynn coloring cookies, played tennis, played basketball, played kickball in the field, swang on the pergola, ate lots of food, and got along very, very well.  It was a little chilly but quite bearable.  It was a very fine afternoon.  I feel so blessed.

In the meantime Lynn had fixed a pile of food.  Plus, we placed a big order at Chicano Boys’ Taco in Staunton.  Ann picked it up and we ate on the back porch.

The reason the kids were late in getting here is that Ann’s family met Kay’s family at Humpback Rock on Blue Ridge Parkway for a hike.  It was good that they got together.

Kay gave us some very good news today—she gets her first vaccine shot this coming Thursday.  Andy has already had his first so when she gets her shots all of the adults in our family will have been vaccinated.  Josh gets his second one soon and the rest of us already have two under our belts.  Hooray!

I took over 100 pictures today.  I tried to capture all of the activities the kids did while they were here.  Unfortunately, most of the shots of people were of them wearing masks.  That’s a sign of the times, I guess. 

Yes, COVID-19 is still with us and we’re lucky to have avoided it thus far.  Here are the international, national, state, and local statistics for today:

April 3                  Infected                   Died

World             131,327,017           2,858,229

US                     31,381,702              568,496

Virginia                623,881                10,287

Augusta County       5,403                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,071,088  (1,467,640 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        39,983  (17,760 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

The NCAA men’s basketball semifinals were played today.  Baylor thoroughly beat Houston in the first game.  The other game was Gonzaga versus UCLA which didn’t start until late.

April 4, 2021

Today was Easter Sunday.  Lynn and I did something we hadn’t done in a year—went to an in-person church service at Central.  Central had decided to re-open on Easter Sunday because more and more of its elderly members had been vaccinated.  Indeed, there were at least 60 people in the sanctuary today, all dispersed by six foot barriers throughout.  It was really good to see people I literally hadn’t seen in a year. 

I had some extra responsibilities with the service.  I had been asked by Yi-Ping Chen if I could broadcast the video she had put together via Zoom of choir members singing “Because He Lives.”  Plus, Pastor Won had set up a laptop with the bulletin and communion service put into Powerpoint format so it could be projected for the attendees to see.  He asked me to advance the slides during the service.  We had a minor snafu in that his laptop wouldn’t play Yi-Ping’s video but I had Lynn’s MacBook with me so I queued up the video on it and, when it came time in the service for it, simply switched the input cables to the projector.  It all worked fine.

After church we picked up soup not only for ourselves but also for the Gutshalls and Aquirre family thanks to Millie Brown.  We brought it all home so we could refrigerate it until they pick it up.  The Gutshalls came over for dinner tonight and Elizabeth and family are coming here tomorrow for another Easter egg hunt.

The weather was nicer today than yesterday so after we ate lunch Lynn and I took our standard two mile walk.  I don’t know why sometimes this walk is very easy for me and other days it hurts.  Today was a hurting day.

Jim did a Facetime call with us this morning so we could see Faron and Coen on Easter morning.  They were very talkative as usual.

I ended up staying up for the second semifinal basketball game last night and it was a good one.  Gonzaga won in overtime when one of its players hit a midcourt shot as time expired to give them a 93 – 90 win.  Now it’s Baylor vs Gonzaga in the finals.  I’m pulling for Baylor.  By the way, if Baylor does win then Josh wins the Worthington pool.  If Gonzaga beats Baylor, Thomas wins the pool.  So either way two of my favorites will become richer!  Alas, I’m in 31st place out of 33 with no hope of going higher.

We had another fine meal tonight with Ann, Josh, and kids.  Lynn fixed a prime rib roast which was delicious.  She also made asparagus a different way that was tasty.  We ate outside since the weather was nice but later in the evening it got a little chilly so we came in.  Before that, I played basketball with Freddie a couple of times. 

Henry left me with some math problems he wants to do with me tomorrow.  I’ll try to get a headstart on them before they come over in the afternoon.  The class he’s taking this year, Pre-Calculus, is one I taught almost every year I taught school.

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

April 4                  Infected                   Died

World             131,894,417           2,865,483

US                     31,419,597              568,765

Virginia                625,148                10,329

Augusta County       5,415                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,174,326  (1,519,021 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,196  (17,792 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I’ve seen several news reports this week detailing how poorly COVID-19 has been contained in other countries, notably Brazil.  I believe 2021 is a good year to travel strictly within the United States.  I am almost sure that our trip to Portugal and Spain will be delayed until 2022.

April 5, 2021

Not only did we have an Easter egg hunt this year for the first time in two years, we had two of them!  Emily and Nathan came over this afternoon and the Gutshalls came back for a second backyard Easter egg hunt.  The Gutshalls were good sports about doing this again.  And I think all of the kids had a good time playing together again today.  The weather was gorgeous.

After the egg hunt was over, the kids were all swinging in the pergola and I had an idea for them to play a game that I used to have my General Math students do 45 years ago.  We were already sitting in a circle, of course, in the pergola so I taught them to play the game where each seat is numbered 1, 2, 3, etc.  The person sitting in seat 1 is the “King” and simply announces a different seat number.  The person sitting in that seat simply has to quickly respond with another number (not his own) and the game continues until someone neglects to respond when their number is called, calls their own number, or sputters in responding.  When a person misses, he moves to the last chair and everyone behind him moves up one seat, taking on a new number.  The game seems so simple but is surprisingly hard to play, especially when players learn to be more devious such as calling out “3” while looking directly as person #2.  From Henry down to Nathan, the kids seemed to like this game.  Freddie played for a while but it may have been a little too old of a game for him. 

I used to do this game in classes with twenty or more students in them.  It always surprised me who would do well in this game and who would not.  The success at this game did not seem to be that correlated to academic ability.  I can remember one General Math student of mine who was not a particularly good math student but once she got in Chair #1 it was impossible to dislodge her.  Today, everyone at one point made it to Chair #1 but no one stayed there for an inordinate amount of time before missing.

Lynn had lots of snacks ready for the kids which I enjoyed as well.  So when the families all left around 4:30 we weren’t the slightest bit hungry.  So we went for our two mile walk then came home and ate dinner.  We warmed up some of the prime rib roast Lynn had made yesterday which was superb.

Tonight was the NCAA men’s basketball championship.  I vowed to stay up and watch it though it didn’t start until 9:00 so I’ll have to write about it tomorrow.

This morning I spent three hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work.  Today was April 5, a Monday, so I had lots of beginning-of-month work to do.  I was successful in getting all of the four bank accounts reconciled and two of the three credit cards reconciled.  Pastor Won wasn’t there for me to give me his credit card records so I’ll do that later.  I also paid a few bills and made the deposit from today’s counters.  It was a large one since yesterday was Easter and we had a good offering from our first in-person service in 2021.  I also paid the federal taxes which are paid monthly and submitted a tax form, Form 941, which must be submitted every three months.  So it was a very successful day for me at CUMC.

I got back from Central just in time to get the eggs hidden for the afternoon Easter egg hunt.  The word “hidden” doesn’t really apply as only some of them were actually concealed a little; others were merely scattered around the yard.  But there were around 250 eggs in all in our back yard!

It was good to see Gilberto today.  Elizabeth brought him over to pick up the kids at the end of the party.  He told us he was doing better each day.

While he was here this afternoon, I also did Henry’s math problems with him.  Actually I had gotten an early start on them last night and this morning so all I had to do was check my work with his as he did the problems.  They were about exponential growth, logarithms including natural logarithms and base e, and included practical problems such as computing future worth of investments compounded at various times and car depreciation.  I enjoyed doing the problems.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 5                  Infected                   Died

World             132,389,797           2,873,069

US                     31,484,402              569,180

Virginia                626,171                10,360

Augusta County       5,414                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,224,890  (1,543,719 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,789  (18,153 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

This means that 54% of Augusta County residents have been vaccinated with at least one shot.  Yippee!  I know that’s why the number of cases, deaths, and hospitalizations has slowed to a crawl.  I hope this continues.  There are several COVID-19 mutations spreading through the United States now.  It really gripes me that some people refuse to get their shots because the only way this virus will go away is if enough people are immune to it that it has no one left to spread to.  As long as there are anti-vaxers out there we will have to live with COVID-19.  These people are not only stupid, they are also selfish.

April 6, 2021

I did stay up to watch the basketball game last night but it wasn’t a close game at all.  Baylor blew Gonzaga away to win the national championship.  And whether it was the adrenalin from the basketball game or the caffeine from the Coke Zero I drank earlier in the evening, I couldn’t sleep well at all.  One thing I’ve appreciated about retirement is getting a good night’s sleep but that didn’t happen last night.

I needed to be well rested, too, as I played tennis with Marc Kinder, Rob Cale, and Won Un today at Mary Baldwin College.  It was a very nice day to play, sunny and warm.  We met at 11:00 and played until 1:00 in 77o weather.  I was whipped when we finished.  I did manage to be on the winning team for both sets.  Rob and I beat Marc and Won 9 – 7 in a marathon.  Then Won and I came back from being down 5 – 2 to beat Marc and Rob 7 – 5.  For me, the combination of being out of shape, little sleep last night, hot weather for this time of the year, plus a nagging injury to my upper right arm made it a struggle though I enjoyed it.  I believe I hurt my arm when I played last week and today it really ached, especially when I served.

Lynn was able to schedule Physical Therapy today in lieu of having it this Friday since we’ll be in Pennsylvania then.  She had it again tomorrow.  After her PT this morning, her Cheryl friends came over to visit while I left to play tennis.

Before I did, I took Cheryl Kent up to Simmons Auto Repair.  She had been told by a Staunton repair shop that her car had a leak in the main engine seal and it would cost over $2,300 to have it repaired.  She had heard us talk about how competent and fair Brian and Tommy Simmons are so she thought she’d get a second opinion.  Brian concurred that she needed the work done but told her it would cost $1,700.  That’s a big savings!  She’s going to have the work done at Simmons later this month.

Ann has spring break this week with Rockingham County Public Schools though her kids aren’t so lucky in Augusta County.  They only got Friday and Monday off around Easter so they were back in school today.  But this meant that she could pick up Freddie when he got here this afternoon.  Actually, she allowed Freddie and me to play one game of PIG shooting basketball first.  I’ve played him four times in the past week and my record is 0 – 4.

After dinner tonight Lynn needed a grocery item so we went to Bridgewater IGA to get it.  Of course, on the way back we stopped at Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

Josh got his second vaccine shot today.  Hooray!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 6                  Infected                   Died

World             132,990,226           2,884,845

US                     31,558,576              570,231

Virginia                627,605                10,401

Augusta County       5,426                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,277,076  (1,571,239 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        40,909  (18,201 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are now 156 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  Vaccinations or not the virus is still going strong here.

Lynn and I are getting ready for our three day trip coming up this Thursday through Saturday.  We’re going to be meeting Butch and Mary K. for dinner in Altoona on Friday night.

April 7, 2021

Whew!  This morning the weather was nice and I decided to ride my bike in the neighborhood while Lynn went into Staunton.  I took my bike off the trainer, filled the tires with air, grabbed my helmet and off I rode.  The problem is that there is NOWHERE around here even remotely flat.  My legs hurt less than ½ mile from home.  I rode what maps out to be an 8 mile ride past Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church, down to Todd Road, out to Gray Fox road, back to Salem Church Road, up to Cider Mill Road, back to Mount Pisgah Church, then home.  In actual miles I’m sure the trip was more like 11 – 12 miles because I did corkscrews on every hill to make them more bearable.  My, did my legs hurt.  The rest of me, including my bottom, did fine.  I was exhausted when I got back home, a little over an hour later.  Todd and Gray Fox roads I am seldom on and I thought I remembered them as being basically flat.  Wrong!  It seemed like each hill had ten minutes of pain resulting in one minute of downhill relaxation.  If I knew that the Katy Trail was hilly, I would never have agreed to ride with the group from May 10 – 15.  As it is, where we enter the Katy Trail the elevation is 571 ft. above sea level and when we leave the trail four days later it is 452 ft. above with zero hills between.  That’s why I think I can make it. 

 On our Midwest trip in 2017 Lynn and I rode our bikes on the Katy Trail in three states:  Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The original railroad trail was called the MKT trail for Missouri, Kansas, Texas but the name got shortened to just the Katy Trail.  When Lynn and I rode we didn’t do any long distances in any of the states.  In Missouri we rode near to where the five of us are going to ride in May. 

My cousin Nick lives very near to the place we’re going to stay on May 10 and where we’ll be leaving our vehicles for when we get back.  Today was Nick’s 71st birthday so I texted him birthday greetings and asked if he’d be around on May 10 so perhaps I could see him for a little while.

I think Lynn’s bike riding days are just about over.  Her back has been giving her lots of pain lately.  Her Physical Therapist recommended that she not ride for now.  So on the trip we’re going to take tomorrow we’re not even taking her bike.  On the trails I had previously planned for us to both ride on, she’ll walk and I’ll ride.

We’ve got no plans to put a bike rack on her new Venza so when we pass the Rav4 on to Ann and family, the only vehicle we’ll have left with a hitch is my Toyota truck which Jim currently has.  It has about 150,000 miles on it so we won’t be taking it on any long bike hikes when I get it back from him.  And that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon.

When Lynn got back from Staunton around lunchtime she wanted to walk so my tired legs then walked two miles with her.  Actually I did fine with the walk.  Riding a bike and walking use different leg muscles, for sure.

This evening, after dinner, we took some soup from Central out to the Aquirre family.  We usually take them food on Saturday but we won’t be able to this week since we’ll be out of town.

In the news tonight, the UK variant is now the most dominant COVID-19 strain in the US now.  It is more deadly and contagious.  The CDC said they are seeing more young people in hospitals now with hospital cases increasing in more than 16 states (though not in Virginia).  38 states (but not Virginia) now offer vaccinations to anyone 16 and over.   Some good news is that antibodies from the Pfizer and Moderna still remain at a high level at six months from when the vaccine is given. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

April 7                  Infected                   Died

World             133,664,461           2,897,302

US                     31,632,180              571,081

Virginia                629,155                10,415

Augusta County       5,487                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,344,970  (1,604,477 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        41,522  (18,438 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

I’ll be writing in this blog from Frederick, MD tomorrow evening then from Altoona, PA the next night.  Lynn and I are looking forward to eating lots of ice cream, walking and/or riding bikes, and visiting with both my brother and sister.  My brother had a MRI yesterday that left him worrying about lots of possible things that could be wrong, but the results came back today with nothing to worry about.  He was greatly relieved, of course. So was I!

April 8, 2021

Today was the first day of our three day road trip.  It was a good one with great weather, good ice cream, and good bike riding and walking.  The day worked out just as we had planned.

We left home around 9:00 AM knowing that our first stop was at Moo Thru Creamery in Remington VA which was 1 hour 50 minutes from home and they didn’t open until 11:00 AM.  Indeed, we got there a few minutes early and had to wait for them to open.  It was worth the wait.  Lynn had a sundae made of dark chocolate ice cream with peanut butter sauce on it (no surprise).  I had one scoop of cookies and cream and one scoop of sweet cream ice cream topped with caramel sauce.  Their ice cream was great–almost as good as Smiley’s.  With Smiley’s grade of A+, I’d have to grade Moo Thru as a solid A.  The only issue was that our sundae’s were supposed to come with a brownie in them but their brownies weren’t ready when we were there.  They have us a couple of donuts instead. 

From Moo Thru, our next stop was 90 minute north just over the Potomac River on US 15 into Maryland.  The venue was Point of Rocks, a town along the C & O Canal Towpath.  We’ve ridden bikes on lots of other sections of the Towpath over the past ten years but never on this section.  As I mentioned yesterday, Lynn can’t ride her bike due to her back injury so she walked on the path.  She was delighted to use her Apple earpods for the first time and reported they worked great.  Meanwhile, I rode my bike four miles west, then turned around and rode four miles back to the car. 

The trail was in excellent condition.  Indeed there were plenty of other walkers and bikers on it today.  I believe that the conditions I rode in today accurately mimic the Katy Trail I’ll be riding on in May.  I tried to ride hard, anticipating that the four guys I’ll be riding on the Katy with will want to ride at a pace of at least 8 miles per hour which is what I did today.  Lynn and I both got our hour of exercise and we were both pleased.  I took lots of pictures as I rode.

My legs did hurt some but not nearly as much as yesterday as I struggled with the hills around our house.  I do need to do training runs like this one several more times this month.

Our next stop was only 10 minutes away at the Rocky Point Creamery.  Like Moo Thru, this was advertised as a farm to cone establishment.  It didn’t disappoint.  I did like the Moo Thru ice cream better but my cone of sweet cream was still delicious.  Lynn also had a sweet cream cone.  We both agreed to rate Rocky Point as a B+.  If anything, their ice cream tasted lots like the kind you’d buy at a grocery store.

While we were at Rocky Point Creamery eating our cones, another couple was parked nearby and we struck up conversation with them.  They were from Bethesda MD and were heading to a goat farm just across the Potomac in Virginia where you could buy goat cheese and hold and pet the baby goats.  We decided that we had plenty of time to spare so we headed for George’s Mill Farm in Loudoun County. 

Though we didn’t buy any goat cheese there, Lynn did pet the goats and I took pictures.  It was a nice diversion.

From George’s Mill we headed to the Hilton Garden Inn in Frederick.  We got there around 3:55.  As we were checking in there was a sign which said “Sorry but the water will be off from 4:00 – 8:00 to make repairs.”  Both of us needed to use the restroom so we hustled to our room just in the nick of time. 

Then we headed out to explore Frederick a little.  On the way we went to a Ross store because Lynn had some shoes to exchange.  We had previously agreed to eat dinner at the Black Hog BBQ in downtown Frederick.  It was a good choice.  I had a 1/2 slab of ribs and Lynn got Texas brisket.  We exchanged our meats with each other along with the sides.  Both of us ended up with way too much to eat.

Frederick is a neat town.  It is an old town but the parts we were in were not run down at all.  In the suburbs there are sidewalks everywhere to walk on.  We saw several nice parks and drove to one where we hope to ride/walk tomorrow morning if the weather permits.  There were hundreds of people in the park playing baseball, t-ball, soccer, tennis, etc. 

When we got back to the hotel, we decided to walk the 0.6 mile distance to the nearest McDonalds.  Lynn always likes McDonald’s sweet tea when we travel so we got tea tonight for her breakfast tomorrow morning.  It was a nice walk.  We took advantage of the nice sidewalks in this community.

A full day it was–and a great one.  The worrisome thing about tomorrow is that there is a 40% chance of rain.  We’ll just play it by ear.  The first ice cream stop tomorrow doesn’t open until 11:00 so if we can’t ride in the morning we’ll have to find something else to do.

On our way this morning Kay called with some great news: she had just gotten her first Pfizer vaccine shot.  Now all of the adults in my immediate family have received some or all of their vaccines.  In three weeks everyone will be fully vaccinated.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 8                  Infected                   Died

World             134,498,401           2,914,168

US                     31,714,311              573,819

Virginia                631,083                10,436

Augusta County       5,553                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,414,376  (1,639,623 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        42,325  (18,849 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

The number of cases in Augusta County shot up by 66.  That’s a huge number compared to the previous several days.  I’m not sure what caused that.  There are still 156 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19. 

April 9, 2021

We awoke to drizzle so we initially thought our plans of riding bikes and walking on Frederick County’s Bellanger Creek trail were going to have to be ditched.  While Lynn took her shower, I drove to the bakery we had picked out, Stone Hearth Bakery in downtown Frederick, and picked up a cinnamon roll for her and an apple strudel for me.  Both were good choices.  By the time we had finished our breakfast and verified that checkout time wasn’t until noon, the rain had stopped though the clouds still looked onimous.  But weather.com said it wasn’t going to rain anymore so we trusted the forecast.

It was a good call.  The trail was only a few blocks from our hotel.  The website advertised the trail as a paved, level, 10 foot wide multiuse trail for 4.2 miles.  It turned out to be a great trail, just as advertised.  It was a little cool, in the 50’s, and there were a couple of places where the rainwater had actually covered the trail but getting around these big puddles was easy.  The trail was very smooth and easy to ride on.  I rode right at six miles.

Near the end of my ride Jim called and said he would be coming to our house midday on tomorrow, Saturday. 

Our initial travel plans were to go to two creameries today and another one tomorrow on the way home.  The third one wasn’t really on the way home; in fact, it was near to the other two.   So, when we found out that Jim was coming, we changed our itinerary to include three creamery stops today.

The first one was called Smith Mountain Creamery in Middletown, MD, about 30 minutes away from our hotel.  The people here were very nice and their ice cream was great.  Lynn had a flavor called Monocacy Mud, named after a nearby river.   It was made of chocolate, caramel, and pecans.  I had Sea Salt Caramel.  We both agreed their ice cream was an A.

By the time we had eaten our second cones of the day, we agreed that it would be hard to actually rate all five of the creameries in order.  Plus, our order would have been different.  Suffice it to say that each had great ice cream and some had other perks such as flavored ice cream cones.  At our next stop, Misty Meadow Farm Creamery in Smithsburg MD, for example, I had mine in a chocolate waffle cone.

At Misty Meadow Creamery, Lynn had a chocolate peanut butter milkshake.  I had caramel, sweet and salty in the chocolate cone.   Misty Meadow Farm Creamery was about 30 minutes away from Smith Mountain Creamery.

All of the creameries are off the beaten path.  It makes sense since all are at farms with the cows providing the cream right there.  None were that hard to find, especially with Google’s help.  Our third creamery of the day and fifth of the trip was Windy Knoll Farm Market and Creamery near Chambersburg PA.  It was less than a half an hour from Misty Meadow. 

This stop was a little different because the market had other things to offer such as candies, breads, and other grocery items.  It was run by Mennonite girls who did not wear face masks.  They had some interesting ice cream flavors.  Lynn got a cone of “Triple Chocolate Earthquake” in a pretzel cone.  I started to get “Salty Caramel Crunch” but when we asked what made it crunchy they said it was toffee which Lynn said might have nuts in it.  So I settled for cookies and cream in a sugar cone. 

Once again, the ice cream was delicious.  Every stop on this trip had excellent ice cream and provided us with reason to come back anytime we’re in the neighborhood of any of the five creameries.

The drive from Misty Meadow to Altoona was about a two hour drive.  Though it didn’t rain on us, several of the mountains we crossed were foggy.  Lynn did a fine job of driving and we were in our hotel by 3:30 in the afternoon.  We changed clothes then headed over to my sister’s house where Butch was already waiting for us.

The four of us had a good visit at her house.  Butch had brought some of Ann’s jewelry he wanted Mary K. and Lynn to take.  Mary K. took some and Lynn got the rest to bring to her sister Kay who is doing some kind of craft with this type of jewelry.

Mary Katherine told us she was pretty sure she would be moving to a house near her daughter Kit’s house.  She had told us about this house before.  It is all on one level.  Though I don’t believe she’s signed the paperwork yet, I did get the impression that the seller and she had come to terms.  The four of us plan to visit it in the morning after breakfast.

After visiting at her house for an hour or so, we loaded up in Butch’s Tesla and drove to Marzoni’s Restaurant where we met Colin, Kit, Leo, and Nora Dangler plus Joseph, Christine, and Paxton DeLeo.  The rest of Joseph’s family was away at college.  The eleven of us had a marvelous dinner which featured lots of good conversations and laughs.  For the most part, the four of us just sat back and listened to the younger ones talk.  It was lots of fun.

Of course, I got pictures of everything we did today.  I did leave my camera in Butch’s Tesla but I’ll get it tomorrow.

Lynn and I got back to our hotel around 9:30, making stops on the way there for gasoline and for her McDonald’s sweet tea for tomorrow morning.  It was a very, very good day again.  I am so thankful that I have the opportunity, money, and health to have busy and fun days like today.

All eight adults in our dinner party were vaccinated.  That made things almost normal.  Thank goodness!  Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 9                  Infected                   Died

World             135,297,064           2,928,575

US                     31,802,772              574,840

Virginia                632,625                10,451

Augusta County       5,561                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,514,282  (1,683,673 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        43,129  (19,160 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 10, 2021

Our road trip ended today as we came home from Altoona.  After we awoke and loaded up all of our belongings wet met Butch at a bakery, D’lites, in Altoona.  There we had a great breakfast with each of us eating a huge and delicious cinnamon bun.  Butch and I each had coffee and we bought a cinnamon bun for Mary K.  Plus, the store gave each of us a complimentary small cupcake (which all of also donated to MK).  The bill for all of this was under $18.  This was a nice find for the next time we come back to Altoona.

Afterwards we drove to Mary K.’s house and had another good visit with her.  Then, all four of us drove (in two cars) to the house Mary K. plans to buy then on to Kit and Colin’s house.  None of the three of us, Lynn, Butch, or I, had ever been to it.  They have a nice home.  Kit wasn’t there when we got there–she had an interview at her office to hire a new receptionist for her dental practice.  She did return before we left, though.  In the meantime, we had a nice visit with Leo, Nora, and Colin. 

By 11:30 Lynn and I were on the road home.  The drive home was a little over 3 1/2 hours.  As with the rest of our trip, Lynn drove.  Butch had returned my camera when we met and I had a chance to copy my newest pictures from it to Lynn’s laptop while she drove.

The weather was very nice by the time we got to Virginia, considerably warmer than Pennsylvania.  We had talked to Jim a couple of times since he came home from Roanoke in the morning to work on the Gutshall’s lawnmower.  He spent the whole afternoon working on it.

When we got home we learned that Josh had spent the night at the hospital last night.  Apparently he had lost feeling in one side of his body yesterday and the doctors at the hospital wanted to make sure he hadn’t had a mini-stroke.  They did a bunch of tests on him and think now that he had a tiny clot that may have caused it.  He came home this afternoon, thankfully.

We got hamburgers tonight from the food truck at Valley Pike for us and Jim.  He had sharpened the blades on my mower in addition to doing all the work on the Gutshall’s.  After we ate the burgers we took him to Smiley’s for dessert.  Imagine that!

Our final decisions about ice cream were 1) all of the creameries had great ice cream  2) it was great to find five new places to get treats at the next time we are in any of their neighborhoods  3) the variety of flavors varied greatly at the creameries.  For example, it was hard for Lynn to find ice cream at any of them (except Smiley’s) that had chocolate and peanut butter  4) some creameries had much better variety in choice of cones  5) Smiley’s is still #1!

When we got home, I got lots of good picture work done with my pictures from our trip.  I ended up with 150 photos.  Here at home I made backups of each and selected a subset of them for my “Favorites” folder which is displayed as a screen saver on my computer.

We learned today that our friend Gilberto, who is finally making a decent recovery from COVID-19, learned yesterday that his mother had succumbed to it in Mexico.  So sad!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 10                Infected                   Died

World             135,945,439           2,938,750

US                     31,868,478              575,568

Virginia                634,325                10,458

Augusta County       5,571                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,615,336  (1,736,603 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        43,909  (19,539 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are now 169 hospitalizations in Augusta County from COVID-19.  Where are they putting them?  A better question is when will this number keep climbing?

The weather forecast for the next week is for highs in the 60’s each day and no rain.  Tomorrow is supposed to be the warmest day with highs reaching the mid-70’s.

April 11, 2021

Today seemed like a typical Sunday in years gone by:  I played the piano for Sunday School, we went to church, had Ann’s family over for dinner, and took a walk in the afternoon.  Of course, all of these events now are tempered by COVID-19.  The piano playing I did was via Zoom.  We did attend church service for the second time this year, though only about 30 others joined us there, nearly all of whom were vaccinated, I’m fairly sure.  We did take our usual two mile walk today in the neighborhood.  For the family dinner, we ate on the back porch then enjoyed watching the kids play in the back yard.

Butch had given to Lynn a huge stash of Ann’s old costume jewelry.  This afternoon, Kay and Donna came over and took some of it and tonight Betsy and Lynn did some work with some of the remaining itemsand Betsy took a few items home with her. 

Augusta County starts back to school four days per week on April 15.  Students don’t attend until then.  However, Henry and Gus have soccer tryouts everyday this week in the late morning and early afternoons.

Lynn has Sirius radio in her car and usually listens to channel 70 which plays old love songs from the 70’s and 80’s.  When we were on our trip this past weekend I heard a song on there I hadn’t heard for decades, “If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words” by Bread.   It brought back memories that I used to play the song many, many years ago.  The song was released in 1971 which makes it 50 years old.  I probably played it in the early and mid 70’s.  When I played a lot back then I never had sheet music, I just played the songs over and over until I knew them.  I guess you’d say that they became part of my “muscle memory.”  What really shocked me today is that in a matter of 20 minutes I could play the entire song again.  I know I haven’t played it in 40 years yet it was still lodged somewhere in my memory.

I think it is so strange that I can resurrect melodies and chords on a piano that have been buried for decades yet sometimes can’t remember what is on tomorrow’s schedule or the name of a person I’ve known for years. 

Lynn’s back is not making much progress, in my opinion.  Lynn herself says that it is much better now but I’m not sure I’d say that.  Tonight, for example, by the time dinner was over her back was exhausted.  She did have to do a lot of standing in order to prepare dinner this afternoon.  By this evening she was in pain.  I ran the electric massage machine on her back for a few minutes before she went to bed which she says helps.  She is just having to live with lots of pain and that’s not what she’s been used to all her life.  I wish it were better.  The physical therapists tell her she’s doing better so maybe this is true but I see the other side of the coin.

This afternoon after Lynn and I had walked I decided to take my bike on the same two mile hike.  Walking you don’t notice the hills but riding my bike I certainly did.  Plus, my bike has some issues I need to get fixed before our big bike hike such as it won’t stay in a lower gear unless I hold the gear lever in place.  Otherwise it defaults to the highest gear (most difficult to pedal).  As if climbing hills wasn’t already tough for me!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 11                Infected                   Died

World             136,619,412           2,948,908

US                     31,918,591              575,829

Virginia                635,552                10,472

Augusta County       5,581                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,718,671  (1,792,546 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,585  (20,042 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 12, 2021

Today was a typical but busy Monday, especially in the morning.  It began for me doing my weekly treasurer’s work at Central.  I hadn’t been there in a week so there were lots and lots of bills to be paid plus one credit card to be reconciled.  Plus I had today’s deposit to make.  All went well.

I hustled home and headed to the dump since I wasn’t here on Saturday.  As always, I got our trash plus the Gutshall’s.  That chore also went without a hitch.

Next I decided that it was past time to cut the grass.  I had been charging the battery for over 24 hours so it started up easily.  I didn’t have any spare time because I started at 11:30 and had to be at Central at 1:00 to unload a Blue Ridge Area Food Bank truck.  So I only had an hour to cut but still got 98% of what needed to be cut then.  I got the rest cut when I returned from unloading the Food Pantry truck. 

The weather today was nice but not as warm as yesterday.  Lynn spent time in the pergola with two sets of her friends.  First, the two Cheryls (Kent and Wright) came out this morning and visited with her.  In the afternoon, she and Ginny Bauman walked first then chatted in the pergola.

Lynn wasn’t finished walking, though.  After dinner tonight she and I walked our standard two mile hike.  She got a new FitBit today and wanted to make sure it worked as it should; it did.

There were more cases today of shootings and killings.  It is so disturbing to me that anymore anytime a person disagrees with someone else, police arresting young black men, high school students feeling depressed, or racism taking control of a person’s emotions, the answer seems to be to grab a gun and start shooting people.  Today’s news had a story of a police killing a young black man when he put up a little resistance to the arrest.  Apparently the policeman meant to grab her taser but instead used her revolver.  And, there was a shooting at a Knoxville high school with one person dead.  It is just too easy to access guns, especially those like the AR-15 which can fire multiple bullets in a matter of seconds.  I saw a Facebook post to the far right crowd asking them why they felt safe enough to not wear a mask in public but fearful enough to always pack when they leave home.  Makes no sense.

We found out today that the local health department is now vaccinating anyone 16 and over who wants it.  We think Ann is going to wait until next week to get Henry taken care of so he can go through soccer tryouts and his first day back at regular school (Thursday for Augusta County students) without an interruption.  The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.

On the news tonight was a feature about a new rise in COVID-19 cases in America, especially in Michigan.  The US is back to 70,000 new cases per day.  In Detroit, 40% of the new cases were in people ages 20 through 40.  The UK variant is now the dominant strain.  It is more contagious but not necessarily more fatal to those who get it. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 12                Infected                   Died

World             137,214,246           2,957,205

US                     31,977,893              576,258

Virginia                636,862                10,486

Augusta County       5,580                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,768,777  (1,817,033 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,631  (20,073 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Augusta County now has 160 hospitalizations due to COVID-19. 

I found out that the Staunton bike shop, Black Dog Bikes, wasn’t open on Mondays so I couldn’t take my bike in to be worked on.  I plan to take it in tomorrow.  I really need to ride more to get in shape. 

April 13, 2021

Today was exercise day for me.  The weather was perfect for being outside with temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s.  I started with tennis at 10:00 with Rob Cale, Marc Kinder, and Lewis Moore.  We played for a little over a hour and a half, 3 sets, and we switched partners after each set.  I played OK and ended up the day 2 – 1 in sets.  My arm hurt a lot at first though it did get a little better.  I’m hurting again tonight, though.

I had taken my old truck to the Mary Baldwin tennis courts because I put my bike in the back.  Black Dog Bikes didn’t open until 10:00 so I had to wait until after our tennis was done to take my bike there.  I dropped it off.  The bad news is that I was told it would likely take a week or more for it to be repaired.  Oh well, it needs the work.

When I got back home, Lynn wanted to walk so we did our two mile hike.  I’m puzzled as to why yesterday nearly every step ached but today, after playing tennis for an hour and a half, my legs felt good the entire walk. 

In fact, I felt fine when I returned so I later took Betsy’s bike (Lynn’s old one) out for a spin in the neighborhood.  I only rode for about two miles but it felt good.

I also was able to help Ann and Josh by picking up Henry and Gus from their soccer tryouts today at Clymore Elementary School and take them home.  I’m going to do the same again tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be their last day before returning to school four days a week.

Lynn called my cousin Kay Grace this evening because Kay is scheduled to have some major back surgery tomorrow in Roanoke.  She’s supposed to have a plate and four screws inserted.  That sounds painful.  Actually Kay has been in the hospital since Sunday getting prepped for this surgery which is supposed to last several hours. 

The CDC and FDA called for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to be halted temporarily.  Almost seven million people have had the vaccine now but apparently six women developed an issue with blood clots.  One of them died from the clots.  None of our family has gotten the Johnson and Johnson one and the clots have not happened with anyone with the Pfizer vaccine.  This pause may last for days or weeks even though the chance of this happening appears to be less than one in a million.  On the news tonight the point was made that one person has died from this vaccine but 1,000 people die every day from COVID-19.

Lynn and I went to Central UMC tonight to pick up some food for the Aguirre family.  We then drove to their house and gave it to Elizabeth.  Their house is very sad right now because Gilberto’s mother passed away in Mexico due to COVID-19.  He’s not able to go there now.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 13                Infected                   Died

World             137,996,858           2,971,030

US                     32,068,437              577,166

Virginia                638,910                10,506

Augusta County       5,597                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,826,281  (1,853,400 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        44,849  (20,127 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 14, 2021

Today was more boring than the past few, probably due to the weather.  It was overcast and drizzly most of the day with temperatures in the 50’s and low 60’s.  So it was not conducive to doing anything much outside.  Henry and Gus had soccer tryouts despite the weather but fortunately during that time period it didn’t rain.

Lynn had a dentist appointment this morning so I got her to drop me at Central on her way.  I was able to pay some bills and update the Schwab investment spreadsheet for the first quarter.  That was really all I had to do for my weekly bookkeeping work and I shouldn’t have to do more until next Monday morning.

This afternoon Lynn had Physical Therapy.  Our weather app, Dark Sky, said it wouldn’t rain for the upcoming hour so I decided to get a bike ride in.  My ride was 6.6 miles long and VERY strenuous.  I rode up to Mount Pisgah UMC, then on Cider Mill Road to the four-way stop, then went to the Gutshall’s house at 618 Salem Church Road.  Then I came back home on Salem Church, Morningside Drive, and Leaport Road.  This route had multiple huge hills on it including the one from the Gutshall’s house up to Salem Lutheran Church and the real killer, the ride up Morningside Drive near the windmill.  I pedaled the entire route though I stopped several times on the big hills to catch my breath.  When I got home I was exhausted.  Riding 8 miles on the C & O Canal Towpath was nothing compared to these 6.6 miles.  Google Maps says there’s a 400 foot difference between the highest point and lowest point on this hike.  Plus, I had to use Betsy’s bike again because mine is in the shop.  It is the same brand and has the same seat as mine though the handlebars are higher.

Tonight the pause on using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine continues.  The CDC said they recommend holding off so they can examine the data.  Still, there have been less than one case of blot clots for every million people vaccinated.  All were women aged 18 to 48 who got sick within two weeks of being vaccinated.  This has slowed the vaccination rate, of course, in the US though there are apparently still plenty of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines available.

My cousin Kay came through her surgery OK today.  Her son Michael called Lynn and told her she was in more pain than he’d ever seen her but was still already asking to go home.  I hope her pain quickly diminishes. 

Lynn and I wanted to walk after dinner but it was raining.  So we went to Harrisonburg so she could return some shoes to Ross.  On the way back we stopped at Smiley’s.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 14                Infected                   Died

World             138,801,364           2,984,272

US                     32,145,473              577,979

Virginia                640,211                10,510

Augusta County       5,606                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,904,288  (1,896,053 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        45,235  (20,200 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 15, 2021

Today is the traditional tax day (though the deadline was moved to May this year).  I submitted my taxes back on March 1 and received my Virginia refund but am still waiting on my federal refund.  I’ve checked on its progress on the IRS.gov site but it simply says that this refund is being processed.

The weather today was seasonable which means it wasn’t as warm as it has been.  It was mostly sunny but highs were just in the 50’s.  It made for good walking weather, though.  Lynn walked with her friend Ginny Bauman this morning and earlier I took a good 2.5 mile hike around the city of Staunton while Lynn visited with Opal Homan and her aunt Jo Lee Hanger at The Legacy. 

I have to compliment my wife again.  This morning she got an e-mail from the Waynesboro High School ELL teacher that said Pfizer vaccines were available at Augusta Health today for anyone 16 and over.  Juan Pablo, the boy she has been working with in Waynesboro as part of the Migrant Education Program, is 16.  Juan Pablo hasn’t done well with virtual schooling and is failing all of his subjects now.  But Lynn hasn’t given up on him so when she got the e-mail she immediately called his dad and Juan Pablo.  The dad answered; Juan Pablo didn’t.  The father asked Lynn to assist them in getting both of them registered to be vaccinated this afternoon so she did.  And she finally got hold of Juan Pablo on the phone and told him she’d be bringing the registration papers to him this morning.  I went along with her to Waynesboro as she delivered the vaccine registration to Juan Pablo.  His father was at work so she had made the appointment for 3:20 PM.  I hope they both follow through.  I just know that if it hadn’t been for the teacher’s e-mail and Lynn’s insistence these two would not have a chance of being vaccinated.  Lynn called Juan Pablo this evening and he confirmed that both had gotten their first vaccine as she arranged.

Lynn also told Juan Pablo about summer school this year at Waynesboro High.  He’ll need to go to get back on track in school.

After our trip to Waynesboro, we went to the Nationwide Insurance office in Staunton.  The agent there had called me last week when we added the Venza saying she could show us some ways to save money on our bill so we met with her this morning.  Indeed, there were some things we were paying for that we really didn’t need such as rental cars if ours is in the shop.  With four vehicles we do not need a replacement rental car!

From there, Lynn went to The Legacy and I went walking.  I ended up at her vehicle shortly before she finished with her visits with Opal and Jo Lee.  We came on home and, after lunch, she and Ginny took their hike.

She had to hustle because she had an appointment to interpret for a disciplinary hearing at Wilbur S. Pcnce Middle School at 2:00.  She was anxious about this because she needed to be back home by 3:18 when the bus comes with Freddie and Betsy.  All four Gutshall kids had school today for the first time this year but Henry and Gus had soccer practice after school.  Her meeting at Pence was over in plenty of time so she made it home before the bus got here.

I had an unusual task to do during this time period.  Jim had texted us last evening that his Cross Country team had a meet in Charlottesville for which they had scheduled a chartered bus.  He had a lawnmower of Josh’s that he had repaired and wanted to get back to them.  So he schemed to load the lawnmower on the chartered bus, have the bus stop at Target in Waynesboro after the meet this afternoon, and I met him there in my truck to pickup the lawnmower.  It was a crazy scheme but it worked!

We got good news that Gus and Henry both made the Fort Defiance High School soccer teams.  Gus made the JV team and Henry made the varsity.  Both start play on May 11 and have an abbreviated, ten game season with home and away games against the other teams in the Shenandoah District:  Staunton, Riverheads, Stuarts Draft, Buffalo Gap, and Wilson Memorial.

To celebrate both of them making the soccer teams, Lynn and I went to Krispy Kreme donuts in Harrisonburg and got them donuts for breakfast tomorrow.  Of course, we also got our free ones since we’ve got our vaccinations.

When we dropped them off Ann told us Henry is scheduled to receive his first Pfizer vaccine this coming Sunday. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 15                Infected                   Died

World             139,659,156           2,998,743

US                     32,222,130              578,976

Virginia                641,626                10,529

Augusta County       5,605                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            4,974,166  (1,933,945 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        45,944  (20,605 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 16, 2021

Today was Friday, the first Friday all year that Freddie, Betsy, and Gus have gone to school.  This meant that we were home at 3:18 when the bus arrived.  Actually Gus had after-school soccer practice and Henry had behind-the-wheel driver’s ed so it was just Betsy and Freddie who rode the bus here.

I played three sets of tennis this morning.  The temperature was only in the 50’s but it didn’t seem too cold.  Won Un, Rob Cale, and Danny Anson were the others who played.  My right shoulder keeps on hurting but not enough to quit playing.  I just can’t serve hard at all and when I hit a forehand my arm hurts.  I still had a good time playing and actually won two of the three sets we played.

This afternoon Lynn and I made a run to Costco.  It always amazes me that we can go there with exactly two items on our list and exit with a bill of over $100.  The big extra costs today were geraniums which Lynn bought for our front porch.  She also got some frozen items despite the fact that our four freezers were full.   Yes, we have four freezers for two retired people.  In order to put away what she just bought she had to pitch out items.

Her plan is to make a big pot of potato soup for the Gutshall’s on Sunday night so she asked me to bake a bunch of potatoes today so she could work with cool ones instead of hot ones when she makes the soup tomorrow.  Baked potatoes are one of the few things I can cook decently.

Since today was Friday, it’s no surprise that our dinner consisted of hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike along with their sweet potato fries.  After dinner, Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  It was her second walk of the day as she walked while I played tennis this morning.  The temperature was in the high 50’s and was OK for walking despite a pretty stiff breeze at times.

More mass shootings:  today’s news included information about the gunman who killed eight, including himself, in Indianapolis yesterday.  Here was a post on Facebook this evening I loved:  “147 mass shootings in the U.S. already this year.  Republicans:  Let’s make it EASIER to buy guns.  2 cases of voter fraud in 2020.  Republicans:  Let’s make it HARDER to vote.  I’m tired of the hypocrisy.  You?”

Another story is about the 13 year old being shot and killed by a policeman with his hands up in the air.  Every day there seems to be a story about mass shootings or police quick on the trigger to shoot suspects.  The common denominator to every story is guns.

Twenty seven states have an increase in deaths due to COVID-19 though Virginia is not one of them.  The head of the CDC blames people for letting their guard down and governments for easing their restrictions too soon.  Brazil reports that it is losing 3,000 people every day to coronavirus.  More people are dying there than anywhere else in the world.  Hospitals are short on everything including sedatives. I’m SO glad we canceled our trip there.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 16                Infected                   Died

World             140,476,554           3,010,657

US                     32,300,759              579,891

Virginia                643,220                10,549

Augusta County       5,613                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,105,585  (2,002,007 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        46,980  (21,236 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

After dinner tonight we went to Smiley’s.  The flavor of the month is Death by Chocolate, Lynn’s favorite. 

April 17, 2021

We did our normal Saturday chores in the morning including getting food from Central and taking it to the Aquirre family.  Then I did my weekly trash run.  While I did that, Lynn and Ginny Bauman took a morning walk.

This afternoon, I decided I had to ride my bicycle more but really didn’t want to ride on the hills in our neighborhood.  Lynn wanted to walk again so I put the bike rack on her RAV4 and we drove to Grottoes.  Grottoes is the only flat town in the area.  It has two parks—a city park and Grand Caverns park.  Both of them have bike/walking trails around their perimeters.  The Grottoes city park’s trail is 1.4 miles long and the Grand Caverns trail is 1 mile long.  The two parks are 2.4 miles apart, all level.

We parked at the Grottoes city park.  I rode one lap around its perimeter then rode to Grand Caverns, did a lap around it, rode back to the city park, and rode another lap around it.  By that time Lynn was finishing up her second lap on the 1.4 mile trail so I asked her to pick me up at the Grand Caverns park.  I rode back there and did one more lap around its perimeter then she met me.  All in all, I calculated that I rode 12 miles.  She walked 2.8 miles giving her more than 12,000 steps for the day.

This ride helped my confidence for the Katy Trail ride.  Yes, we’ll be riding a lot more than 12 miles per day but it only took around an hour and a half.  Best of all, neither my legs nor my bottom hurt that much.  In other words, it led me to believe I can do the Katy Trail.  Riding on level ground is much easier than climbing mountains.  The trails around the perimeter of each park were packed gravel like the Katy Trail.

I told Lynn today that I’m not sure why I agreed to do that hike.  It seems like a very selfish thing to do—abandon her and the things I can help out with around here for six days.  It also seems somewhat macho to ride that far.  But I guess the reason I agreed is to prove to myself that I’m not ready for assisted living yet.  I’m still young enough to do physical exertion.  And I will enjoy the camaraderie with the four others, all of whom I like.

I did one favor for Lynn when we got back.  She didn’t like how the solar lights in front of our house weren’t all vertical.  The lights sit on a plastic stake in the ground around six inches long.  I had the idea to replace them with wood stakes several inches longer.  I made the stakes out of a spare board I had in the garage and swapped the plastic ones for the wooden ones.  My plan worked—the lights look better now.

For dinner tonight we decided to put our vaccinations to use.  We went to Cracker Barrel in Staunton and had our usual country ham biscuit dinner.  It was a nice treat and very inexpensive.  We grabbed a Chick Fil A ice cream for dessert.

Lynn called my cousin Kay today; her son Michael had told us that it would be OK to call.  She didn’t pick up but later called back.  She sounded very good, talkative, rational, and laughing at times.  It was good to hear her with a strong voice after the tough two days she has been through.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 17                Infected                   Died

World             141,264,098           3,022,247

US                     32,366,165              580,612

Virginia                644,828                10,564

Augusta County       5,619                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,208,823  (2,059,882 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,347  (21,292 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

There are still 161 Augusta County residents hospitalized due to COVID-19.  Today we got the bad news that Gilberto’s father had passed away in Mexico due to coronavirus.  His mother passed away just two weeks ago to the same.

April 18, 2021

My brother Butch is 73 years old.  Today, for the first time in his life, he attempted to run a marathon.  Yes, that’s 26.2 miles.  The Athens Marathon is normally a typical run with hundreds of runners, official start and finish, etc.  But in today’s coronavirus world it took on a different spin.  Runners could go anytime during April they wanted and on their own course.  They just had to run the complete distance.  Butch had been training for this for months.  In fact, he was all ready to run in the past four year’s marathons but various events kept him from doing so until this year.  So today was his chosen day to try to accomplish this feat…and he did it.  Here’s what I wrote him:  To complete a marathon at any age is some kind of accomplishment, but to do it at age 73 is worth praise beyond words.  Neither of us will ever know that feeling of satisfaction you must now be experiencing.  We’re proud of you!

It was a much less strenuous day for Lynn and me.  She walked two miles and I played tennis with Henry then rode the bike for just a couple of miles.  Like most Sundays now, it began with Zoom Sunday School for me then in-person church services at Central for Lynn and me.

Also typical of Sundays, Ann’s family came over for dinner.  Henry couldn’t come because his Fort Defiance High School basketball team finally had their end-of-year meeting and celebration of their district championship, the first in twenty five years.  Henry had something else to celebrate today—this morning he got his first Pfizer vaccine.  Hurray!

Lynn fixed potato soup for everyone plus French style green beans.  Betsy can eat both of those since they are meat-free.  Plus she whipped cream and sliced strawberries for a delicious dessert.  From Central this morning we picked up some chicken salad and croissants for those who wanted.  As always, it was a good Sunday meal.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 18                Infected                   Died

World             141,987,018           3,032,205

US                     32,404,454              581,061

Virginia                646,133                10,581

Augusta County       5,623                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,281,878  (2,103,815 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,720  (21,592 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 19, 2021

When I started writing this tonight, our internet was out.  This is a very rare occasion.  In fact, in all of the previous 364 nights I’ve written this blog I don’t recall an occasion when we haven’t had our Highspeedlink.net service.  It isn’t fast but has been very reliable.  Perhaps it will come back before I finish.  I believe I can set up my phone as a Verizon hot spot long enough to upload this posting in case it is still down when I am ready to go to bed.

I called my brother this evening to see how he was doing.  Predictably, he said he didn’t sleep well last night due to leg cramps.  But today he had a two hour massage so he was confident that tonight would be much better for him.  He sounded in very good spirits and had a right to be doubly proud of himself for running the marathon yesterday.  I will never, never attempt that.

This was Monday so my day began with Church Treasurer duties.  I paid a few bills, paid the quarterly Virginia tax, and made the Quickbooks deposit that Sam Richardson and I had counted earlier today and delivered to the bank.  I returned to Central shortly after lunch and helped with the Blue Ridge Food Bank delivery.

Around lunchtime I got a call from neighbor Bee Myers.  He asked if I wanted some free mulch.  I had seen in his driveway that he got a huge order last week.  He said it was much more than they needed or wanted and if I would come and get what was left I could have it.  I took him up on the offer, making three trips to his driveway in my truck to load it up then spread it around our house.  Needless to say, I was very tired when that was over.

I also helped Ann’s family out a little today, taking Gus to his soccer practice and Henry to his behind-the-wheel driving lesson.  It gave me a little break from shoveling mulch, especially since my right shoulder is still a source of pain to me.

I confess that I don’t give my shoulder much time to heal.  Yesterday I hit tennis balls with Henry for 30 minutes or so.  Today it was lifting mulch over and over.  Tomorrow I’m playing tennis again with three of my buddies in Staunton. 

On the news today it was reported that over 50% of Americans have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 33% of adults are fully vaccinated.  Every state now has opened vaccines to anyone 16 and over.  I guess the next step is to make sure the vaccines are safe for children and get them vaccinated.  Perhaps herd immunity will then become a possibility.  I certainly hope so!  In the meantime, thanks to Verizon can report today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 19                Infected                   Died

World             142,676,814           3,042,348

US                     32,468,277              581,522

Virginia                647,111                10,595

Augusta County       5,633                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,345,314  (2,137,823 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        47,788  (21,614 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 20, 2021

It was one year ago today, April 20, when I began writing this blog.  When I started, I commented that I was like a reporter writing about a baseball game which had already started when he began reporting.  But my worrisome comment then was I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  And I didn’t know who was going to win.

Now I believe that the game is in the 7th or 8th inning.  After falling way behind at first, my team is now ahead thanks to the excellent work of the researchers who developed the coronavirus vaccines.  The game has been very costly and still the opponent inflicts harm every day on humankind, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated.  I’m not sure the game has just 9 innings, either; I am afraid I’ll be living with COVID-19 in some form for many years to come.

I do believe I’m on the winning team now.  Lynn and I and our immediate family has, thus far, been spared the dangers of the disease.  Our extended families have not been so lucky.  My cousin David succumbed to it.  Lynn’s sister Kay had it and, to this day, does not have her former sense of taste or smell back.

I had written before that tonight would be my last post.  I’ve reconsidered.  I think writing this has been very therapeudic for me and I suppose I’ll continue writing for at least a few more nights.  When I go on my bike trip, May 10 – 15, there’s no way I can write a daily blog because I won’t be carrying any keyboard with me in Missouri.

At this milestone I do look back on the past year as being perhaps the worst of my life in many ways.  I’ve been healthy but we’ve all had to give up so many things, some of which are finally coming back to us now.  For months we didn’t go to any restaurants.  Now we only go on rare occasions despite being fully vaccinated.  We haven’t been inside a movie theatre for well over a year—many of them have gone out of business.  We haven’t seen a live sports event in over a year though perhaps we’ll be able to see some of Gus or Henry’s soccer games next month.  We went for months and months without having any of our children in our house except for very, very brief moments.  No grandchild has stayed overnight with us in over a year.  Our two youngest grandsons, Faron and Coen, have been here only once and that was for a few hours, all outside.  We went without church services for nearly a year though we have been able to attend Sunday morning services the last three weeks.  Zoom was a lifesaver, keeping us in touch with family, Lynn’s occasional school work, and our church work, but is not a good substitute for face-to-face conversation.  Everyone wears masks in public now so you can’t even see a person’s full face anymore.   Both Lynn and I have gained a few pounds; eating becomes a recreation when you can’t do others.   Our grandchildren’s school and children’s work have been much less than desirable. 

There have been a few positives, I admit.  Lynn and I have managed to get along quite well despite seeing more of each other in the past year than any of our previous years of marriage.   Except for her broken foot and now fractured spine she and I have both been healthy without so much as a cold all year.  Our constant prayers for the health of our family have been answered.  The Pergola that Lynn desired and Jim built has enabled us to converse with many different people at socially accepted distance.  Financially we’ve come through this pandemic better off than we started it; we certainly haven’t spent the money on travel that we did prior to March of 2020.  

If I were to look back through my blog, I’d see fear that COVID-19 was going to reach me before I was vaccinated.  I’d see impatience and anger at how slow the roll-out of the vaccine began.  I’d see relief on the days I got my two Pfizer shots.  I’d see frustration that I couldn’t be with either my brother or sister when they were going through tough times.  I’d see boredom with way too many hours spent playing Whirly Word, sudoku, or solitaire.  I’d see a renewed appreciation I have for a fantastic spouse and friend with whom I live.   

The numbers that I’ve posted every day are staggering.  The world has lost over 3 million people to COVID-19.  The US has lost over 580,000, the equivalent of the population of the city of Baltimore or Albuquerque, to covonarivus.   Virginia has had almost 650,000 cases, which means roughly 8% of the population has had it.  Augusta County still has over 160 people hospitalized today and has lost 69 residents thanks to COVID-19.  Throughout the year we saw it getting closer and closer.  Now we hope for it to go away.

It won’t go away as long as there is a substantial percentage of people who won’t get vaccinated.  The news this week said that 20% of the US adults won’t.  Supposedly 43% of Republicans have refused to be vaccinated but only 5% of Democrats.  Why is this a political question?  The question is how do we get rid of COVID-19 and the answer is to roll up your sleeves. 

The State Department released travel advisories today for other countries.  There are four categories of advisories, from Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions to Level 4 – Do not travel.  Guess where Portugal and Spain rate, the two countries we’re supposed to fly to in September?  Do not travel.

Today was a busy day for me.  It started with tennis.  I started hitting around 9:45, played three sets, one of which went to 9 – 7, and finished at noon.  I was quite tired.  I did rebound enough to cut our grass this afternoon and walk two miles with Lynn.  I also played with Freddie for around an hour when his bus came here including basketball, bike riding, and going to Clymore Elementary for him to play on the playground.  I always have a good time with him.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World             143,520,018           3,056,428

US                     32,535,378              582,449

Virginia                648,347                10,625

Augusta County       5,640                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,410,736  (2,166,158 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        48,250  (21,689 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

It is interesting to compare this to the April 20 statistics a year ago:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World                 2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                    8.990                     300

Augusta County            22                         0

What a year it has been!

April 21, 2021

I wrote this paragraph a year ago, six weeks after we were going through the “shelter in place” order from Governor Northram:  Lynn and I each get a lot of screen time each day.  I don’t know what we’d do without our iPads and MacBook.  Over and over again I hit the refresh button on my MacBook when reading Facebook hoping there will be some new posts.  As of today I have played 17,820 consecutive games of Whirly Word and played 8,311 games of Solitaire on my iPad.  Of course many of these games were played pre-COVID-19 but many, many have been played since March 13.

Despite our vaccinations and beginnings of a back-to-normal life, the statements in that paragraph are still true.  However, my counts are now 23,100 for Whirly Word and 10,618 for Solitaire.  Solving over 5,000 Whirly Word puzzles in the past year is more a testament to my boredom than it is my knowledge of words. 

Today was an unusual weather day.  The morning weather was mild with temperatures in the 50’s.  But by afternoon a front had passed through and the weather became frigid.  There is supposed to be a freeze overnight. 

The mild morning temperatures allowed me to do the weed-whacking I’ve been needing to do.  I also found out that Costco carries the battery I needed for my riding lawnmower but I had to take my old battery in to get a rebate.  So after I did the weed-whacking I took the battery out of my mower.

Lynn and I had several stops to make in Harrisonburg including Costco.  We ended up at the Rockingham County School Board Offices where she had an hour-long interpreting session while I waited in the car in the parking lot.  On our way home we stopped at Smiley’s for ice cream and got home just in time to meet Freddie’s bus.

I had Freddie for a little longer today as Ann took Betsy to dance before picking him up.  It was too cold for us to play outside so he played Wii and watched TV here until Ann came.  During this time Lynn had a Physical Therapy session in Verona.

Henry finished his last behind-the-wheel session today so I guess that means he has a full driver’s license now.  I expect that by the end of the month we will have passed Lynn’s RAV-4 on to the Gutshalls so he’ll have something safe to drive.

One day after the police officer who shot George Floyd was found guilty of 2nd degree murder, there were two more instances today of police shooting and killing a black person.  Why is the solution to so many police interactions to pull their revolver and fire?

The news tonight again stated the demand for vaccines is dropping more.  Though over 200,000,000 shots have been given in America, there are stories of many places with more vaccines than they have willing recipients.  Such a shame.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 21                Infected                   Died

World             144,406,878           3,070,484

US                     32,600,158              583,228

Virginia                649,608                10,640

Augusta County       5,656                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,470,861  (2,198,898 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        48,473  (21,881 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 22, 2021

ABC news today called today’s weather “sprinter” since it was spring with a heavy dose of winter across the US.  The temperature here didn’t get above the 40’s, much too cold to do outside work or walk.  Our geraniums spent another night in the garage and will do so again tonight as the temperature once again drops to below freezing.  The forecast is for much warmer weather next week with temperatures reaching the 80’s by Wednesday.

In order to get in a walk, Lynn and I went to the Harrisonburg mall today and walked about two miles.  The weather inside the mall was much better than that on the outside!

I was able to pick up my bicycle today from the repair shop.  It had multiple fixes so maybe it is ready for a big hike now.  I can’t say the same about myself.  The fellows who are going on the Missouri hike with me have planned a get-together and ride next Tuesday.  I hope I can keep up with them.  If I can’t, then I may decide to pull out.

Jim’s girls’ cross country team at Patrick Henry High School qualified for the state meet this past week and left for the state meet today.  On their way to Leesburg today, they got off I-81 at Verona so they could pick up some face masks Lynn had created for them which had “PH XC 2021 State Meet” on it.  She is so skilled!

Tonight was pizza night from Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  It never disappoints us.  It will serve as our dinner for two nights and still have pizza leftover for a lunch snack or two.  We always get their Soprano pizza which is another name for a pizza loaded with the works.

We had both Betsy and Freddie this afternoon after school.  Betsy has dance classes Monday through Wednesday evenings but not on Thursday.  It was too cold for them to play outside, though. 

According to Governor Northram, some of Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions are going to be eased soon.  The CDC says that 52% of all Americans have received at least one vaccine shot so far.  The CDC is also going to decide tomorrow whether to resume the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or not.  The CDC now says that if you’ve been vaccinated and still contact COVID-19, your symptoms will be lighter and you will be less likely to spread it to others.

We talked with Hal and Diane today.  They gave us some advice as to where we could stay on the Pacific Coast when we come to Oregon in September.  We’ll be traveling to the coast together from Portland.  We agreed to go along with their recommendation which means that our trip is now completely booked (flights, rental cars, and hotels).

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 22                Infected                   Died

World             145,283,674           3,083,542

US                     32,661,770              584,168

Virginia                650,981                10,653

Augusta County       5,662                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,558,769  (2,248,339 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        49,050  (22,230 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 23, 2021

This will come as a surprise:  this morning I watched and listened to a classical music concert.  It was on YouTube recorded yesterday at a live session at the Charleston WV Public Radio station, performed by Harold Brown.  Harold is from Bramwell and is a world renown classical music pianist who studied at the Juliard School.  He is a fantastic pianist though the electronic piano in the radio station didn’t do justice to his music.  He not only played superbly but also gave a very positive interview which included lots of references to Bramwell.  Our family reunion has been held several times at his house.

Becky Allen sent me the link to the concert.  She initially let me know about it yesterday when it was being broadcast live but we couldn’t pick up the Charleston station here.  It was nice to find out that it was recorded on YouTube.  He had called Becky on his way home from Charleston yesterday and told her he was shocked to find out it was being videotaped.

The bulk of my day today was filled with frustration.  It all started when I left home at 10:15 for my noon tennis match so I could pay a few bills and set up the next payroll for Central’s employees before I went to play.  When I logged into QuickBooks there was a new icon which said was for Resubscribing our payroll service.  Knowing that we usually pay Intuit for QuickBooks in April, I thought that I should do this before proceeding with the other tasks.  I quickly got in a section which asked me to login as the main contact person for QuickBooks. 

We had an issue a couple of months ago where I couldn’t get any tech support because Jim Clemmer was listed as the main contact person instead of me.  At that time, we went through several steps to have me replaced as the contact person.  This involved sending Intuit a letter from Jim, a letter from Pastor Won, and a picture of my driver’s license.  However, that apparently never happened and it wouldn’t let me proceed to process the upgrade.

Worst of all, when I clicked on the Resubscribe button it automatically canceled our payroll service.  I didn’t catch this at first and had to leave QuickBooks to play tennis. 

I played about 75 minutes of tennis before one of the guys hurt his back a little and decided to call it quits.  So I returned to Central where I paid the bills and tried to set up the payroll for April 30.  It wouldn’t let me because the payroll service had been cancelled.

Worst of all, there’s no phone number anywhere to call Intuit.  Their tech support is worse than awful.  I tried various ways online, called as if I was going to order new service, and finally got a person on the phone who said he could help.  It took him almost 90 minutes to get our service restored and even then I had to charge the $585 to MY credit card instead of the church’s.  He also said he could help in getting the change made to the account so I would be the contact person.  However, again when we got to the screen for this to happen it asked for documents to be uploaded again so I told him I’d have to wait until next week to do this.

I did process the payroll for April 30 and thought things were somewhat back to normal when a new error message popped up on the screen.  I looked online and found that many others had experienced this same error message.  I tried the suggestions online and nothing worked.  So once again I tried to get tech support.  Guess what—they wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t listed as the main contact person.  I was furious and late for dinner by this time.  It has been several hours since this happened and my blood pressure is still too high.

Actually I had dessert before dinner.  Lynn and I met Jim’s cross country team at Smiley’s where his team enjoyed ice cream.  Lynn had been there earlier in the day with her friend Pat Collins so I got a cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.  Then Lynn and I returned home and ate our burgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.

While I was at Central I put together a box of food to take to the Aquirre family.  We were going to take it to them tonight but they were at church so we’ll take it tomorrow.

The CDC has decided to allow people to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine again though 15 people have experienced blood clots.  Out of 9 million who took this vaccine this isn’t many but three of them died.  All were women.  If I were a young woman I’d certainly choose Pfizer or Moderna instead. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 23                Infected                   Died

World             146,194,636           3,098,225

US                     32,733,536              585,002

Virginia                652,321                10,666

Augusta County       5,671                       69

April 24, 2021

The weather turned rainy from midday on today so that put a damper on things though the morning was fruitful.  I started the day gathering trash, taking ours and the Gutshall’s to the dump.  Then Lynn and I loaded up the food for the Aguirre family and took it to them.  Instead of coming back home, we went to Staunton where we walked two laps around Gypsy Hill Park before getting some groceries at Aldi’s and coming home.  It was a very successful morning but soon thereafter the rain started and continued the rest of the day.

I used the downtime due to the rainy weather to get my Congregational Prayer for tomorrow written.  Then Lynn suggested that we go to a nursery near Bridgewater.  It was one we’d never been to, about a half hour’s drive from here.  She had been looking for a butterfly bush but the only one she found was at a Waynesboro nursery, looked unhealthy, and they wanted $40 for it so she didn’t buy it.  But today, at the Evergrowin’ Greenhouse she found plenty of them for $6.99 each so we got three.  Both the greenhouse and the butterfly bush were good finds.

Lynn was going to start the long process of embroidering the jackets for Jim’s Cross Country team today but she wanted her sister Kay to help her and Kay didn’t feel well.  Kay was afraid that the stomach bug she had might be contagious so she and Lynn agreed to wait for a while to do the jackets.  There’s no rush.

I also found a way to apply online with Intuit to get the primary contact changed for our QuickBooks account from Jim Clemmer to me.  Now I just have to wait and see if it will be approved. Until it is, I have little hope of getting the error message fixed that I saw yesterday afternoon.  The Intuit people just won’t talk to you if you’re not the primary contact.

Today was Henry’s first day driving without one of his parents with him.  He and Gus went to the Weyers Cave Community Center to play basketball with some friends.  I told Lynn tonight that I think it would be safer for him to be driving the Rav4 so maybe we’ll get that arranged tomorrow night when Ann and Josh come over for dinner.

We went back to the grocery store tonight because Ann told us she would like hamburgers for dinner tomorrow night.  It will be her birthday eve so we let her choose the menu.  We offered to take her family out to dinner but she preferred eating burgers here so that’s what it will be.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 24                Infected                   Died

World             147,038,773           3,112,291

US                     32,788,341              585,875

Virginia                653,326                10,675

Augusta County       5,677                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,773,361  (2,370,074 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,633  (23,415 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Augusta County still has 165 hospitalized though the number of daily cases has definitely dropped off a lot.  This is puzzling.  Kay told us today that she will get her second Pfizer shot this coming Tuesday.  At that point, all of the adults in our family will be fully vaccinated.  Yay!

April 25, 2021

This was an eventful Sunday.  It started out with Lynn and I planning a short anniversary trip June 12 – 14.  On our anniversary, June 12, we’re going to drive to Lancaster PA.  On the way we’ll stop at one of the creameries we’ve discovered in Pennsylvania.  We’ll stay at Eden Resort.  Our entertainment will be a Righteous Brothers concert at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster.  That should be fun.

The next day, Sunday June 13, we’ll drive to Delaware with stops at a Delaware creamery and a jams & jellies place before ending up in Lewes at a very nice resort hotel, The Inn at Canal Street.  We’ll be able to walk on the beach and at Cape Henelopen State Park at Rehoboth Beach.  On Monday, June 14, we’ll drive home, perhaps stopping in Arlington on our way.

After making those plans we went to church where we enjoyed a guest minister, Rev. Michael Quayle.  Central has been displaying the Sunday bulletins projected on the wall instead of handing out paper ones and I quickly discovered that today’s bulletin had not been entered on the laptop set for displaying.  So I quickly got it entered so the congregation could see the order of service.  I had the Congregational Prayer during the service.

After Church we came home, ate lunch, then took a short walk.  Lynn was working every spare minute on items for our dinner tonight including making homemade rolls for the hamburgers, preparing deviled eggs, lima beans, and onion fritters.  Ann had asked for these items since it was her birthday dinner though her actual birthday is tomorrow.

Lynn had to return after our short walk to work on the rolls but then she wanted to walk again.  I told her I needed to ride my bike, especially since I had gotten it back from the shop and wanted to make sure it was ready to go.  So she walked and I rode my bike.  Naturally, I added a lot of extra runs on my bike while she walked.  She walked two miles; I’m guessing I rode at least five.  My bike felt great and my legs didn’t hurt too much as I rode.

When we got back it was time for me to run to Smiley’s to pick up Ann’s ice cream cake for our dessert tonight.  We had ordered a salted caramel chocolate chunk cake for her—my favorite.  Indeed, it was delicious and we all enjoyed it.

I grilled the burgers for our dinner while Lynn fixed everything else.  We did have a very nice dinner though we missed Gus who was with some friends at Massanutten Water Park.   After dinner, Henry and I took a ride in the Rav4 so he could see some of its features.  He’s a good driver, I’m sure, and this car should do well for him.  We’re going to pass it along to the Gutshalls later this week for a little under its Kelly Blue Book value.

I did get one important thing accomplished today.  I received another notice from Intuit this morning saying that they didn’t approve my application to be the main contact for QuickBooks because they needed a photo ID for Pastor Won and a letter from him requesting that I replace Jim Clemmer.  Won is on vacation today in New Hampshire but nonetheless I texted him and asked him if he’d take a picture of his driver’s license and text it back to me.  I already had a signed letter from him requesting that I become the main contact from when we tried to get this done back in January.  Later in the day he did text me the picture.  I was able to put together two documents that I uploaded to Intuit—one was not only his letter but one from Jim Clemmer requesting the same and the other was the driver’s licenses for all three of us.  It worked—late this afternoon I got a message that our change had finally been approved.  Combining my original work in January for this plus yesterday’s and today’s work, I’ll bet I spent five hours just trying to get Intuit to change Central’s main contact from Jim Clemmer to me.

Tomorrow when I get to Central I will hopefully get the issue resolved that I ran into on Friday.  As I wrote then, they wouldn’t help me because I wasn’t the main QuickBooks contact.  I am now.

ABC news says that the number of COVID-19 cases for the past seven days is 17% lower than the previous week.  That’s good news.  Now we just need to get more people vaccinated—children and the reluctant adults.

Here are today’s numbers:

April 25                Infected                   Died

World             147,778,110           3,122,311

US                     32,824,129              586,148

Virginia                654,210                10,691

Augusta County       5,682                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,841,006  (2,411,830 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,702  (23,452 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

April 26, 2021

Today is Ann’s birthday.  Wow, we’ve been parents for 44 years!  All three of our children have turned out so well; we’re really lucky.

I had a very tough time in bed last night.  I woke up around 11:00 with chills and upset stomach.  I ended up putting on a second shirt, sweat pants, and socks.  That seemed to calm my chills but I still did not sleep well the rest of the night.  Lynn checked my temperature early this morning which was just under 100o.  However, that was also when I was double-bundled up in clothes and when I finally got up (long after Lynn) my temperature was back to normal.  Lynn hardly ever gets up before me but this morning I was too weak to move.  When I did get up to go to the bathroom I felt very light headed.

This happens to me every year or so though I didn’t find any record of it happening in this blog over the past year.  I get chills, wake up exceptionally weak, and am barely able to move.  It usually lasts for just one day and then I’m back to normal.  I certainly hope it doesn’t happen when I’m in Missouri riding bikes with the other four guys.  After some caffeine and breakfast I felt good enough to keep my appointment with Sam Richardson to count Central’s offering at 9:00. 

After he and I did the count, which only took 30 minutes, I was able to just sit in my treasurer’s chair at Central and take care of lots of items on my list of things to do.  I actually got all of them done by 11:30.  I then picked up a pizza and box of food from Central’s Food Pantry (Food Lion food) for the Aguirre family.

Coming home, Lynn asked if I could walk.  I made it only one mile.  Actually at that point she is the one who suggested we come back home so we did but once I got here I did not feel like going back out to walk.  She did and walked two more miles.  Then she came back and started working on the huge embroidering job Jim had asked her to do for his Cross Country team.  He had gotten something like 15 jackets and wanted them all to be embroidered to indicate each girl’s name, the school name, and the fact that the XC team made the state tournament.  She did a couple of the jackets today.

Meanwhile, I mowed the grass.  It was an easy job for me since I could simply sit and ride.  I didn’t feel like doing much more than that.  At least I got it done.

After dinner we took the box of food to the Aquirre family.  I offered to take Lynn to Smiley’s but she declined.  She’s trying to keep her weight down.  Plus she wanted to work some more on the jackets for Jim’s Cross Country team.  She ended up getting five of the fifteen done today.

I called the hotel we are considering staying at on our way to Kennebunkport and found out it will have its outdoor pool fixed by Memorial Day.  We’re going to be there June 28 so today I made reservations for us there.

The current hotbed for COVID-19 in the world is India.  It is just ravaging that country.  Meanwhile, back here in the US, the CDC is expected to lower the requirements to wear masks outdoors if you’ve been vaccinated.  Plus, the European Union says that they will soon be announcing that any American who has been vaccinated can travel to any country in Europe this summer.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 26                Infected                   Died

World             148,448,236           3,132,355

US                     32,874,180              586,531

Virginia                654,929                10,706

Augusta County       5,685                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,911,691  (2,445,766 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        50,790  (23,499 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

We received word today that Rev. Dan Garrett had passed away.   Dan was a pastor at Central from 1996 – 2001.  He performed the wedding ceremony for Ann and Josh. 

April 27, 2021

I won’t be writing much this evening for a very good reason—I am thoroughly exhausted.  Today was not only the hottest day of the year thus far with temperatures in the mid-80’s but it was the day that four of us who are going to ride our bikes on the Katy Trail in May decided to do a training run.  The plan was to ride from John Bauman’s house to Smiley’s in Bridgewater then return.

The distance was only about 20 miles total, which I’ve done maybe a hundred times in my life, but the issue is that there are many, many hills on the back roads we took.  I swear it is uphill both to and from Bridgewater.  This training event clearly pointed out that the other guys, Jim Printy, John Bauman, and Bill Bushman, are clearly in better shape for riding on hills than I am.  Time after time they rode on ahead of me until I couldn’t even see them.  They were kind to wait on me later on but I was certainly the weak link. 

And tonight I’m feeling it.  My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my hands hurt, and my shoulders hurt.  The one part of my body that I thought would be hurting—my butt—is actually OK.  Maybe it hurts and I just can’t tell because the rest of me is aching so much. 

We started at 1:00 from John’s house and didn’t get back until 5:00.  Not all of that time was spent peddling.  At Smiley’s, for example, we took at least a half hour to enjoy our ice cream and relax. 

I thought I was prepared.  My bike was serviced last week and, truth be told, performed flawlessly.  Today was sunny the entire day and there was little shade but I was well sunblocked.  I had installed a new water bottle holder on my bike in the past week and tried out a water bottle that had been given to me years ago.  It was a complete failure.  I put lots of ice and cold water in it when I left home; by the time we were 30 minutes into the trip the water was hot.  I plan to throw it away when I have the energy to cross to the other side of the room where I can see it.  I ended up buying water at Smiley’s and that helped tremendously.

It was SO hot!  The pavement just radiated the heat.  I kept telling myself that the Katy Trail is flat, shady, and crushed gravel, not hot pavement.  The other guys assured me that our 20 miles up and down hills today was more work than 40 miles on the rail trail.  I hope they’re right because many, many times today I thought of telling them that I was going to back out of the Missouri trip because I held them up so much.  I also thought of calling Lynn numerous times and asking her to come and get me and take me to my truck so I could come back and get my bike but I managed to make it the whole way.

I can hardly lift my fingers to type tonight so forgive any typos.  I hope I won’t be spending all evening in bed fighting leg cramps though I am certainly expecting that to happen.  I wasn’t even the oldest person in our foresome—Bill Bushman is.  There were a few hills when I just had to walk my bike.  I don’t apologize for that.  I like the quote Lynn and I got from a lady when we were riding in Wheeling once.  She said “I’ve never met a hill yet that I couldn’t push my bike up.”

Before bike riding today, I had a leisurely morning.  For the first time, I took Henry, Gus, and Freddie to school today because Josh had an appointment for an echocardiogram.  Betsy rode the bus.  That all worked out well.  Lynn continued her work on the jackets for Jim and also had both an interpreting session via Zoom for Rockingham County Public Schools and a one-hour long webinar. 

We were both too tired to fix dinner so we went into Staunton where Lynn got a few things at Kroger than we got food from Chick Fil-A for dinner.  We brought it back home and ate it though neither of us was vey hungry.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 27                Infected                   Died

World             149,313,577           3,148,020

US                     32,926,421              587,373

Virginia                656,034                10,724

Augusta County       5,696                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            5,968,441  (2,477,096 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        51,173  (23,728 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Sorry I can’t write any more because I am pooped!

April 28, 2021

The past three days have led me to experience a wide variety of feelings regarding my health and well-being.  Two days ago, after my incident with chills the night before, I felt extremely weak all day.  Yesterday, after the four-hour bike ride in extreme heat, I was as exhausted as I recall being in decades.  Today, I felt the best I have felt in ages. 

I played two hours of tennis this morning with Rob Cale, Danny Anson, and Marc Kinder.  I think I could have played even more.  The temperature was in the 70’s and it just felt good.  I’ve been playing with a very sore shoulder for weeks which really limits my ability to serve.  Today my shoulder didn’t hurt much at all.  I wish I could report that my level of play was heightened but, strangely enough, I think I played worse today than I have all year.  We played a set with each possible set of partners, as usual.  Today my record was 1 – 2.  I didn’t mind since it just felt so good to be outside playing and feeling good.

I had enough energy after playing tennis for two hours that I came home, ate lunch, and tilled the garden.  We’re not sure what we’ll be planting this year since the deer have ravaged all hopes of having fresh tomatoes the past two years.  Perhaps we’ll just plant some kind of flowers and hope they don’t eat them, too.

I got some additional exercise today from 3:20 – 5:20 because Freddie was here.  He is so much fun to be around!  Today I asked him to do some tough mental addition problems for a first grader such as 15 + 15.  He quickly said 30 and when I asked him how he did it he explained that he added the two tens first then the two fives, then put them together.  Then I asked him was 16 + 17 was.  He said 23 at first but when given a second chance he correctly said 33. 

In addition to doing math, we also played Wii (where I got destroyed playing baseball and tennis), then loaded up our bikes on the old truck and drove to Clymore Elementary School where we rode literally all the way around the school then all the way around Stewart Middle School plus played on the playground. 

To top it off, tonight Lynn wanted to walk after dinner because she hadn’t walked any today.  We walked our usual two mile hike, getting in just as it got dark.

For dinner tonight we got take-out from Flying Pizza in Mount Sidney. We split a calzone (though Lynn ate very little) and also enjoyed an appetizer of panini. It was the first time we’d tried the panini and we loved it.

Lynn got the rest of the girls’ jackets embroidered for Jim’s Cross Country tennis team today.  Now she just has to do the two coaches’.  She is amazingly talented and smart.  And she has a wonderful heart.  I am so, so lucky!

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

April 28                Infected                   Died

World             150,135,207           3,161,718

US                     32,976,996              588,189

Virginia                657,174                10,735

Augusta County       5,707                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,018,570  (2,506,040 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        51,844  (24,301 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Kay has an appointment for her second Pfizer vaccination tomorrow morning.  That will mean that all of the adults in our immediate family have received both shots.  Hurray!

April 29, 2021

Lynn and I had a very successful morning today.  She did a couple of loads of laundry (as she does most days) then we left for Harrisonburg.  Our first stop was at the bank.  The downtown branch of Wells Fargo has been closed since the pandemic started and that’s where our safety deposit box is so we had to make an appointment to get to it.  I needed to get there in order to drop off our Toyota Venza car title and pick up the Toyota Rav4 car title so we can reassign it to Ann. 

The next stop was to walk on the walking trail at Rockingham County’s Crossroads park.  It was just a one mile loop around the park, but we had never walked on it.  It wasn’t sunny though the temperatures were fine so the walk was enjoyable.  In lots of sunlight the walking trail wouldn’t have been so enjoyable because there’s no shade.

Next we went to Cub Run Elementary School where Lynn gave three bags of books and puzzles to a teacher there.  She had been carrying the books in the back of her car for weeks to give away and we got it done without an incident.  Then we went to Aldi’s, bought some groceries, the bank where we got some cash, then onto another short walk.  Harrisonburg recently opened the Northend Greenway which is a nice walking trail not too far from where I worked at the Rockingham County School Board Office.  This trail was also very nice but also quite short—only 0.6 mile long.  We did pick up 1.2 miles by walking it out and back.

We had a leisurely afternoon.  Lynn worked on her final two jackets for Jim—his and the assistant coach’s.  Then Freddie and Betsy came and stayed with us until Ann picked them up.  Freddie and I played Wii where once again he annihilated me in both tennis and baseball.  The kid is good!  There are some things that, as a grandparent, I’d let my grandchildren win.  When I play Freddie on the Wii, I try my best to beat him and don’t even come close.  He won the first baseball game by the slaughter rule and beat me 7 – 0 in the second.  In tennis, I may have gotten two points in four games. 

Freddie and Betsy helped Lynn and me plant a few things today.  Freddie and I planted the three butterfly bushes that we got last week.  We put them in three of the four corners of our garden.  Lynn and Betsy planted zinnias around the light pole and mail box in the front yard.  Here’s hoping they all do well!

After another good dinner (Lynn fixed fajitas and salad), Lynn suggested that we walk again, so we did our standard two mile walk.  My step total, based on my iPhone, was over 13,000 steps today.  That’s the most I’ve had in ages.  I do believe that I got more exercise in both of the previous two days but my step today was higher today because I had my phone in my pocket the entire day.  Yesterday, I didn’t have it on me when I played two hours of tennis.  And the previous day, it didn’t record my bike pedals as I rode for 4 hours.  But 6 miles of walking is reminiscent of what we did a year ago before Lynn broke her foot.  I was in so much better shape then!

Kay got her second vaccination today, a cause of celebration.  Now all of the adults in our family have had two Pfizer shots.  Henry gets his second one in a couple of weeks.  I am at the point now where I am angry about those who refuse to get vaccinated.  They prolong this pandemic.  If everyone would do the reasonable thing and get vaccinated we could put COVID-19 behind us.  Most people 65 and over have had their shots but the percentage of younger people who have is less than 50%.  The shots are available—many without needing an appointment—but stupid people still aren’t getting them.  The news tonight said that 75% of Congress had been vaccinated.  Give me one good reason why that’s not 100%!

 Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

April 29                Infected                   Died

World             151,082,468           3,177,719

US                     33,038,616              589,167

Virginia                658,341                10,751

Augusta County       5,712                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,093,967  (2,550,627 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        52,325  (24,697 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

Here’s something to celebrate—the last person to die from COVID-19 in Augusta County succumbed on April 6.  We’ve now gone 23 consecutive days without a death.  But America still has nearly 1,000 die each day from it and Virginia has lost 350 residents since April 6.  Poor India now has over 3,000 dying each day from it and has had over a million new cases in just the past three days.

April 30, 2021

Today was the windiest day I can ever remember here.  The winds were all day long, constant, and brisk with speeds of 25 – 30 miles per hour.  It was hard to do anything outside.  In order to get our walking in today, Lynn and I drove to the Valley Mall and walked about 3 miles multiple times around the mall plus down to Target and back. 

Lynn had Physical Therapy this morning.  While she had that, I went to Central and did my usual treasurer’s jobs.  At least today everything went smoothly unlike a week ago.  I updated the Treasurer’s manual I wrote; it now is 96 pages long.

After that and a quick stop at the Staunton library to pick up a book Lynn had reserved, I came home, ate lunch, then headed to Harrisonburg with Lynn.  We didn’t do anything else in Harrisonburg except walk though we did make a stop at Smiley’s for a mid-afternoon ice cream treat.

We had to be back in time for the school bus, of course.  Betsy and Freddie were both here for a while but Josh came fairly soon thereafter and took them on home.  Freddie and I had some time to play some Wii games.

Lynn is still working on Jim’s jackets.  All her embroidery work has been done but now she’s cleaning out the inside of the embroidery so not only will the jackets look good from the outside, they’ll also look good from the inside.  Her work is superb.  She still has about a half dozen to go before we can take them to Jim.

After the kids left, Lynn and I went back to Central and loaded up two boxes of food to take to the Aquirre family.  Central had so much food!  We took it straight to their house.  Gilberto joined Elizabeth outside to meet us.  He looks much, much better now.  Elizabeth said his last few doctors’ appointments are coming up in the next two weeks.  Hurray!

From their house, we drove to Valley Pike.  After all, today is Friday, and Lynn likes Old School burgers on Fridays.  We got our usual plus sweet potato fries.  After we ate back at the house, we worked a bit watering and planting some of the flowers around our house.  Then Lynn returned to her jacket work.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

April 30                Infected                   Died

World             151,965,915           3,192,060

US                     33,098,234              590,002

Virginia                659,590                10,770

Augusta County       5,724                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            6,190,879  (2,610,676 residents are fully vaccinated including Kay, Andy, Jim, and Morgan!)   

            Augusta County        52,877  (25,018 residents are fully vaccinated including us, Josh, and Ann!)

ABC news said that 40% of adults in America now have been fully vaccinated.  However, after I commented yesterday that Augusta County had gone 23 days without a death due to COVID-19, another person died today in Augusta. 

March 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

March 1, 2021

Today was get-back-to-normal day after our weekend trip.  That meant going to Central this morning and doing the weekly count and deposit.  After that, and a stop by the Staunton Library to pick up a book for Lynn, I was home before 11:00.  Lynn had her usual Monday Zoom session with the student then we ate lunch and headed to Harrisonburg for a meeting she had with another parent.  I went along for the ride.

I was anxious during the day awaiting news on my sister’s heart catherization.  Mid-afternoon we got a text from Kit saying that her catherization was normal with no blockage found.  The are going to treat her with medication only—no surgery.  I assume that means she’ll be released tomorrow.

Today’s outdoor temperatures weren’t bad but the wind was so again we passed on walking.  Perhaps later this week we’ll get back on the neighborhood roads.

Virginia is expected to start distributing 69,000 doses of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week which will be prioritized for mass vaccination clinics across the state.  Plus, an additional allotment is expected to be sent to pharmacies participating in a federal partnership to help vaccinate priority groups such as those 65 and over.

I know my posts have gotten shorter lately and that’s partially attributable to Donald Trump no longer being the President.  No longer do I get mad over the assinine comments or tweets he made while he was in that office.  Biden is doing a good job and certainly doesn’t stir me up the way Trump did.  What a pleasant relief!  The news is more boring, of course, but that’s OK by me.

One thing I did get done today was to file my federal income tax.  I also printed the state income tax form which we’ll drop off at the Augusta County Treasurer’s office tomorrow.  We’re due to get nice refunds from both which will go towards the house projects we’ve contracted to have done:  downstairs windows and new garage doors. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 1               Infected                   Died

World             114,986,529           2,549,720

US                     29,314,203              527,224

Virginia                577,174                  8,783

Augusta County       5,200                       59

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,982,780  (686,289 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,440  (8,219 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are so many things hard to explain in these statistics.  For example, though the number of infections is dropping dramatically, the number of deaths are increasing.   The US has “only” 62,239 new cases but has 1,574 new deaths.  Virginia had 1,124 new cases but 231 new deaths.  Why should Virginia have less than 2% of the new cases but 15% of the new deaths?  Augusta County had only 4 new cases but 3 new deaths!  Tell me that isn’t scary….

Plus, the ability to get vaccinations appears to have eased; indeed, Augusta County has over 25% of its population with at least one shot if these figures are correct.  Yet Josh has had no luck in getting his vaccine scheduled.

March 2, 2021

Lynn and I were very efficient this morning.  She had an appointment at 8:30 to get a bone density test so I drove her there.  It only took a few minutes.  While she was getting it, I ordered some prints of Henry and Gus’ basketball pictures from Walmart.  Lynn and I went from Augusta Health to Staples where I left the document I’d been working on to be printed.  Then we went to Walmart and picked up the photos.  Our final stop on the way home was at the Augusta County Commissioner of the Revenue to drop off our state income tax forms.  We were back home by 9:45—a very successful trip.

Lynn still had two jobs for the day.  First she interpreted for a Zoom meeting.  Then she drove to Ottobine Elementary and tested students.  Meanwhile I took a walk.   When Lynn got home I washed her car for her since the forecast for the next five days is no precipitation.

This evening I watched a great basketball game between Baylor, ranked #3 in the nation, and WVU, ranked #6.  Baylor went out to a 12 point lead in the first half before WVU came storming back in the second to open up a seven point lead.  But at the end of regulation, the score was tied 81 all.  It was really a good game with lots of momentum swings.  The teams went back and forth in the overtime as well.  But in the end Baylor held on and hit their free throws in the last minute to take the win, 94 – 89.

It was a disappointing loss for WVU but they played well and proved they can play with a top four team.  But a Mountaineer loss never sits well with me and today was no exception.  There were so many plays today that I wish they could redo.

After the basketball game I switched to the NFHS network and watched a little of the Fort Defiance – Rockbridge volleyball match.  Rockbridge had a very strong team and went up 2 games to 0 shortly after I joined the broadcast.  Fort has a decent team and will win some district matches, I’d predict, but Rockbridge really looked good for the first game of the season for the schools.  Rockbridge won the third game as well.

President Biden said today that there would be enough vaccines in the US by the end of May for every adult who wants one.  That is very good news.  Here are today’s statistics:

March 2               Infected                   Died

World             115,279,135           2,559,175

US                     29,370,202              529,192

Virginia                578,559                  8,943

Augusta County       5,206                       61

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,016,769  (697,879 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,485  (8,238 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Dashboard

Once again, the number of deaths in Virginia rose unmercifully—160 new ones.  Augusta County, which for most of the pandemic had less than 1% of those infected die from COVID-19, now has well above 1% with two additional deaths today.  The number hospitalized remains at 144.

March 3, 2021

Today was a fairly busy day for both Lynn and me.  The weather was great which made it all the more enjoyable. 

My day started with a run to Costco.  I had a medium-sized list of items to get and I was able to secure them all plus a few others.  I was in and out in less than a half hour during the senior time at the store.

Meanwhile, Lynn had a doctor’s appointment.  Her back just hasn’t gotten any better and she wanted her regular doctor to have a look at it.  Dr. Alleyne took an x-ray of her back and immediately gave Lynn some rather frightful news.  First, she had a fracture on her spinal cord which was undoubtedly leading to the pain she’s been having.  Second, her bone density appeared to be too low.  Yesterday Lynn had a bone density scan at Augusta Health but the results hadn’t been sent to Dr. Alleyne yet.  So Lynn was told that 1) she should go to physical therapy to help her back and 2) she would make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor who would make recommendations for treating the fracture.  Lynn was told that she likely has bone density that is lower than the normal peak density (called osteopenia) but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis.  Lynn has been taking calcium and iron supplements every day for years now but apparently that wasn’t enough.  So I’ll be writing more about this once she meets with the orthopedic doctor.

Lynn is far from being an invalid.  She walked twice today, each time over two miles.  So she is still quite mobile but sometimes I can see her grimace in pain.  She is slow to get up after lying down.  She tries to lie down a couple of times during the day to rest her back. 

I feel really badly for her.  For one, I likely led to her injury by asking her to help me move the Pergola swings months ago.  Secondly, I should have insisted that she see her doctor before today.  She did go to the emergency room several days after her initial injury but the doctor there said there was no need to take an x-ray.  He was wrong….

One good thing happened today—I picked up the booklet I’d made for Henry detailing his 2020-2021 basketball season.  This is the project I’ve been working on for quite a while now though I don’t think I actually told what I was doing.  It is a 52 page book which includes lots of pictures, including his team pictures which Ann bought the digital rights to, plus the Waynesboro newspaper’s articles about each game.  I was very pleased with how it came out.  Tonight, Lynn and I made a special trip to his house to present it to him.  I think he was pleased.  I was.

I also did some work at Central today.  This is the first of the month so there were bank reconciliations to be done and bills to be paid.  The reconciliations actually went smoothly. 

While I was there, I also went to a meeting I’d been invited to attend about a proposed bicycle trip on the Katy Trail in Missouri.  Bill Bushman, Jim Printy, John Bauman, and Jeff Delong are planning this trip and I’ve been invited to join them.  The trip would be from Monday, May 10 to Saturday, May 15.  I’m very, very hesitant to say yes.  They’ve actually done this bike hike before.  It would involve driving to St. Charles MO on Monday, catching a shuttle to Columbia MO on Tuesday then riding about 30 miles.  On Wednesday, they would ride about 50 miles.  Thursday would be about 40 miles and Friday they would ride the final 35 miles back to St. Charles.  On Saturday they plan to drive home.  I’m just not sure if I am up to the task physically.  I’m not in very good shape and though I’d have two months to get there I just don’t know if I can.  It does intrigue me, though, so I haven’t said no yet.

Lynn had an interpreting meeting via Zoom mid-afternoon.  By that time, I’d decided to work on some additions to my website so I spent a good deal of time doing that.  She and I found time to do our two mile walk and enjoy this good weather.  For dinner, I grilled steaks on the grill and made baked potatoes.  Lynn fixed some mushrooms.  We ate half of everything today and will have the same tomorrow—two good meals.

At the bicycle meeting today, all of us had received both of our COVID-19 shots so we met as we would have this time last year—no masks.  It felt good to have some normalcy return to my life.  As more and more people are vaccinated it will be possible to have more social interactions like this.

In the meantime, COVID-19 isn’t disappearing.  Here are today’s statistics:

March 3               Infected                   Died

World             115,744,703           2,570,420

US                     29,453,901              531,517

Virginia                580,108                  9,326

Augusta County       5,220                       63

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,062,403  (716,660 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        23,096  (8,380 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

As I’ve been writing about for day after day, the number of deaths in Virginia just continue to astound me.  Between yesterday and today there were 379 new deaths.   Augusta County increased by only 14 new cases but had 2 new deaths and still has 144 residents in the hospital.  We’re clearly not out of the woods yet.

March 4, 2021

On the morning news was a blurb about the number of deaths on the VDH website.  The report is that the numbers are high because they have been slow in getting the information in from death certificates so that many of the new deaths reported actually happened weeks, perhaps even months, ago.  That explains why the number has been so high lately compared to the numbers of new cases.

In the news today, the CDC reports that since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 80 million doses have been administered, reaching 15.9% of the total U.S. population.  Virginia has vaccinated 16.6% of its population.  The U.S. is currently administering over 2 million shots a day.

I spent some time today checking into the Katy Trail bike ride again.  Somewhat encouraging is that there is an Amtrak, the Missouri River Runner, that passes through two of the trail towns the group plans to stay in on its way to St. Louis.  So if I decided to give up the ride while there, I could catch the Amtrak, which does allow bicycles, to St. Louis and wait on them.  The other thing I found is that apparently cousin Nick lives just about ten miles from the trail head where they plan to leave their vehicles.  So, I tentatively let the other guys know that I was going to try it.  I hope I’ve made the right decision.  Actually, I decided that it would be better to let them know now that I was in on the trip and, if necessary, later pull out than to tell them no now then later decide to go.

I reported yesterday that Lynn had been diagnosed with a fracture on her spine.  Lynn corrected me today that what she was told is that it was a compressed disc.  She still hasn’t heard back from the orthopedic doctor as to when she will be seen. 

Augusta County’s students have been going to school most of the year two days per week.  But today was the first day for Arlington to have students back in the building.  We talked to Georgia this afternoon who disliked most, of all things, recess.  It seems that teachers wouldn’t allow friends to gather at recess and that didn’t sit well with Georgia.  Her teacher gave the class a writing assignment to write about what they didn’t like about it and I’m sure Georgia’s essay will not be a short one.

Today was one of the least productive days I’ve had since the pandemic began.  The only thing I’ve done a lot of today is eat.  I did a few very, very minor chores today but nothing to brag about.  And I didn’t leave the property.

Tonight we had a special called Zoom meeting of the Central UMC Council.  The issue is that Pastor Won wants to submit several grant requests.  The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank apparently has some money to share and they have welcomed proposals.  Central is asking them to fund some shelving, a cooler, a freezer, a cart, and even an awning, all of which would benefit the CUMC Food Pantry.  That request is not controversial.  But Won is also asking them to fund a refrigerated van which would cost around $45,000.  He also wants to ask the Staunton District of the Virginia UMC Conference to fund $5,000 toward this purchase.  This is something he wanted more than others, including me.  My hesitation was the ongoing costs a van would be to the church—insurance, maintenance, licensing, gasoline, and even electricity if it has to be kept cool at times it isn’t running.  Before the meeting I looked at the website of the company Won had been told by the Food Bank to deal with concerning the van.  I found that they also leased refrigerated vans so tonight when we had our Zoom and others expressed similar hesitations that I had regarding buying it I suggested he change his grant application to lease for six months to see if it would work for us.  Then, if it does, we can re-apply to the Food Bank to purchase.  The others went along with this suggestion and Won is going to check into all this tomorrow.

My sister got out of the hospital today and went to Kit’s house.  She was started on anti-coagulants for her heart.  I hope that’s what she needs and she continues to progress without any impending surgeries.  We’ll just have to wait and see. 

The local news tonight reported that Central Virginia had the first case in Virginia of a child under ten years old dying from COVID-19 today.  That’s scary.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 4               Infected                   Died

World             116,202,844           2,580,611

US                     29,521,987              533,465

Virginia                581,408                  9,357

Augusta County       5,216                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,122,323  (740,786 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        24,012  (8,929 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

I think I heard that Augusta County was giving Johnson and Johnson shots today.  The number of cases in Augusta County was actually reported lower than the previous day so there must have been a foul-up in the data previously. 

March 5, 2021

Today was another day where Lynn had several things scheduled and I had none.  She had an interpreting session in the morning and a doctor’s appointment at her UVA endocrinologist at noon.  Then she had registered for a craft show at the Green Valley Book Fair in the afternoon.  I decided to go along with her to Charlottesville.

It was a good doctor’s visit for Lynn.  She trusts Dr. Dalkin.  Although he is an endocrinologist, he had results of her x-rays and bone density tests. He said that her bone density wasn’t bad but he still is going to recommend that she take Fosamax for the next two years, once per week, which is supposed to strengthen her bones.  But the best news she had was that he looked at her spine x-rays, showed her that, indeed, she had a fractured spine near the base, but said that it would heal itself and would likely not require any additional action except physical therapy which she is scheduled to begin next Wednesday morning.  Her thyroid, which is the reason she goes to Dr. Dalkin, was fine.  He told her she did not need to see an orthopedic doctor for her spine which is good because she still hasn’t received an appointment with one, something she was supposed to have gotten two days ago.  She was very relieved when she left his office.

We came back and split:  she went on to Green Valley to the craft fair and I went into Central because Won had e-mailed me that he needed a check written today for a cooler which CUMC is purchasing now and will be reimbursed by the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  While I was there I did a few other treasurer’s jobs.

In the late afternoon we went to Harrisonburg to look for picture frames for Henry and Gus’ basketball pictures.  We wanted them to be hinged, 5” x 7”.  She found some at Michael’s she liked. 

Then we drove to Valley Pike since today was Friday and that meant it was hamburger day from the Old School food truck.  As always, they were delicious as were the sweet potato fries.

We then settled down to watch the Fort Defiance – Staunton football game on the NFHS network.  After Fort got beat 15 – 0 last week at Rockbridge, I had low expectations.  When we turned the game on, FDHS was already down 3 – 0 in the first quarter.  But then things turned Fort’s way and they scored 24 points in the second quarter to take a surprising 24 – 3 lead at halftime.  They followed that up with another score to start the second half to lead 32 – 3 against the team that had beaten East Rockingham last week.   The game was very sloppy; it seemed that almost every play resulted in either a penalty, time out, or injured player.   This made the game drag on and on.  There were no other scores in the third quarter.  Midway through the fourth quarter, FDHS scored again.  The two point conversion failed this time so the score was 38 – 3.  High school games have 12 minute quarters so the expected length of a game is certainly under two hours.  This one took almost three hours with all of the stoppages.  I don’t think I’ve ever watched a football game with so many penalties.  Both sides had penalty after penalty.   I am so glad we watched it from the warmth of our bedroom instead of from the cold bleachers.  It was 32o outside when the game ended.  Staunton managed to score with just under two minutes to go in the game so the final score was 38 – 10.  This was a great win for the Indians—a rare one against Staunton.

The drama continued today regarding the refrigerated van for Central.  Won sent an e-mail out this morning that he had talked to the people at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank who said that a proposal to lease the van would not be accepted.  So Won pushed again to apply for the grant to buy it.  I told him and the others that I would only be in favor if the church would not have to incur any expense other than the insurance.  Won offered that he, himself, would pay for any expenses if he couldn’t get community resources for it.  The others generally agreed but Bill Bushman held out his objection and then reminded the group that last evening the decision had been made that if the lease was a no-go then the idea would be dropped for a year.  So as of tonight I don’t know for sure what will come from this proposal.  I just know that Central’s finances are in poor shape and we can’t afford any new expenses.  We can’t even pay for the ones we already have.

A month ago, Lynn and I planned a tentative get-away next Wednesday – Friday to a section of North Carolina we’ve not been to, around Boone.  Now it looks like the weather will be very nice during that time period so we’re fairly sure now that we’ll follow through with these plans.  She has physical therapy first thing Wednesday morning then we’ll head south. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 5               Infected                   Died

World             116,650,230           2,591,104

US                     29,592,719              535,560

Virginia                583,060                  9,428

Augusta County       5,232                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,175,489  (763,489 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,459  (9,134 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 144 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

March 6, 2021

We got a save-the-date card today from nephew Vic and his fiancé Amy.  Their wedding is scheduled for Friday, July 2, in Kennebunkport ME.  Lynn and I want to go but there are lots of things up in the air.  For example, we don’t know if our children and families will be invited or not.  We had previously heard that they were limited to fewer people than they wanted to invite.  And just recently Maine revised its rules for COVID-19 to allow for large gatherings.  They have a website for their wedding and on the site it says that children are not invited to the wedding so even if our children come I don’t know what they’d do with the grandchildren.  Vic and Amy have reserved some rooms at the resort where the wedding will be and at another hotel not far faway.  The rooms are the resort are expensive, $349/night.  We also don’t know what my brother’s plans will be.  At one point he told us he wanted to combine Vic’s wedding with spreading some of Ann’s ashes in Maine.  But tonight when we texted him he said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.  Driving there would be very difficult—over ten hours each way.  The flight cost from Charlottesville isn’t bad.  So, over the next few weeks, we’ll need to make plans.

Involved with those plans is a scheduled trip Lynn and I have made a deposit on to Portugal and northern Spain.  It was supposed to be July 3 – 14 but now we’ll need to get that changed, too.  Lots of telephone/computer time ahead of us!

We called Mary K. today to talk to check on how she’s doing and chat with her a little about the wedding.  She seemed better today.  She didn’t know if cousins would be invited to the wedding or not but promised to find out and get back to us tomorrow.

Today was a typical Saturday.  I had a leisurely morning which included a trip to the dump.  After that, Lynn and I went to Elizabeth’s house to take the food I had brought home from Central yesterday. 

This afternoon, the Gutshall family came over.  I had requested help with putting our Pergola swings back up and this time Lynn was not going to be involved since this is probably how she hurt her back initially.  The whole family came and stayed for a while.  Henry, Gus, Josh, and I got the swings back up ready for warm weather which is supposed to happen this week.

After that, I watched the WVU – Oklahoma State basketball game.  This was the worst game of the year for WVU.  Oklahoma State’s best two players had injuries and didn’t play so you’d think the Mountaineers would have rolled, especially since it was a home game.  No, they played terribly and lost 85 – 80. 

Lynn worked on several craft projects today.  First, she worked on a pillow for her friend Cheryl Wright.  Then she imprinted a shirt for my brother Butch to give to a friend of his.  Then she worked on a porch sign for our house with “Hello Spring” on it.  We’ve now removed her “Let it Snow” sign.  I sure hope the snow is done for the year.

Here are today’s numbers:

March 6               Infected                   Died

World             117,055,373           2,598,848

US                     29,650,671              536,999

Virginia                584,537                  9,519

Augusta County       5,242                       67

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,220,399  (782,229 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,711  (9,333 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 144 Augusta County residents in the hospital today with COVID-19. 

The Augusta County School Board has decided that students will be back in school four days a week starting April 15.  I suppose this will affect us since Freddie rides the bus to our house.  I’m sure we can work it out.  In fact, there are no conflicts on our calendar now from April 15 until school is out May 27 except for a possible trip we’ve considered to Oregon in late May.  Right now I’m not sure which weekday the students will not be going; perhaps Mondays.

March 7, 2021

In two months I am supposed to go on a bicycle ride of around 150 miles over four days.  I am in no shape whatsoever for this.  So I anxiously await for warmer weather so I can get some training in.  I refuse to walk or ride outdoors when the temperature is in the 30’s.  Today’s weather was not great though dry.  The high of the day was around 45.  At least the wind wasn’t as fierce today as it was for the past several days.  So this afternoon Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  It was a little cold but we both needed it.

Kay called this afternoon and when I told her about my plans, she suggested that I get an indoor bike trainer which allows you to mount and peddle your bike indoors (without going anywhere, of course).  She even thought Jim had one.  So I texted him and, sure enough, he had one I can borrow.  That takes away lots of my worries—I was not looking forward to riding on the hilly roads around here.  The trail we’ll be riding on in Missouri is completely level.   Plus, I worried about the safety of riding on the roads here.  I hope this works out.

Today was a typical Sunday except Sunday School was canceled because at 10:30 Won had a ceremony on Zoom for receiving a new member into Central, a Mary Baldwin University student.  As soon as that was over Lynn and I went to Central to pick up soup and the monthly communion.  We also picked up soup for Elizabeth’s family.  Then we went to Walmart and Aldi’s to get some groceries.

We walked when we got back.  Then I pretty much killed time until dinner while Lynn worked on her projects.  After dinner we got ice cream at Smiley’s.

My sister was supposed to call us today to discuss Vic’s wedding but she didn’t call.  Then late in the evening she texted and said that cousins were invited but not children.  That leads me to believe none of our children will go which is fine.  Lynn and I will.  I’m leaning toward flying to Boston then catching Amtrak to Kennebunkport but Lynn is pushing to drive (10+ hours).  We’ve got four months to figure this out.

With Trump out of office things are pleasantly calm nowadays.  Facebook has much less vitriol.  And my posts here are shorter because there’s less to complain about.  This is all good.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 7               Infected                   Died

World             117,431,033           2,604,786

US                     29,693,869              537,826

Virginia                585,700                  9,596

Augusta County       5,246                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,267,459  (802,667 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        24,885  (9,363 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Again the statistics are confusing.  Augusta County had only four new cases in the last 24 hours but there was one more death.  And a record number of 145 people are currently hospitalized.   The US is certainly showing progress.  There were under 50,000 new cases in the last day, which is much lower than it has been for months. 

March 8, 2021

Monday morning means returning to Central to make the weekly deposit, pay bills, and set up payroll for the first half of March.  It went smoothly today though I had to wait for a while on the new counters, John Myers and Bobbie Rosson, to get their part done.  Best of all, Central finally had a decent amount to deposit.  That will definitely help with the rest of the bills and payroll this month.

Today was a very nice day with highs near 60o but I was so busy I didn’t get outside at all.  I really wish I could have walked.

My afternoon was especially busy.  I was back at Central at 1:00 to help unload the van from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank for our Food Pantry.  That took less than an hour so I immediately headed for Eddie Smith’s house.  He had stopped by the church early in the morning and told me he had a new computer and modem.  I had previously offered to help him once we were vaccinated so today was the day. 

I spent over two hours at Ed’s house setting up his new Lenova computer.  There were a number of roadblocks but I finally got it pretty much the way he wanted it.  I downloaded and installed Google Chrome, then set up his e-mail and Facebook from there.  I wanted to set up his e-mail through the Windows 10 e-mail app but I couldn’t get it to work.  One of the issues is that his DSL through Verizon was very slow.  I’m so glad I don’t have it.

As I was leaving there, I got a text from Lynn that there was some food at Central that had been picked up today for Elizabeth’s family.  So that was my next stop.  From there I went to a computer store near Kroger.  I had Lynn’s Dell laptop with me.  She rarely uses this computer; it is for her sewing room because her embroidery machine is for Windows-only computers.  But sometime in the past year the letter “c” quit working on the keyboard.  I tried blowing air around it, removing the keycap, etc. but couldn’t get it to work.  As a work-around, I connected another keyboard via one of its USB ports.  But I thought I’d just get it fixed.  Well, I was told that it would cost $130 – $150 to be repaired.  I opted to not do this.  It isn’t as convenient to use the extra keyboard but it is free…

My next stop took WAY too long.  I went through the Kroger drive thru to get a prescription for Lynn which had been called in by her UVA doctor.  She had previously called and verified that the prescription was ready for pickup.  However, she had not previously had any prescriptions from Kroger or anywhere else in 2021 and in January we switched our Part D (prescription) service to a new company, Aetna.  When I had my prescriptions refilled earlier this year I had no issues.  But when I waited my turn to pick up Lynn’s I was told that Aetna wouldn’t pay because they were not the “primary” Part D company listed for her.  The Kroger lady was actually superbly nice and helpful.  She offered the prescription to me at a reduced price outside of insurance which I paid and then received her medication but she also told me that if I would get this issue cleared up with Aetna within a few days she could re-bill Aetna and I’d get my money back.  I should point out that all this took about 20 minutes and in the meantime five cars were in line behind me, undoubtedly ready to hang me from the nearest tree. 

So after I got the prescription, I decided to get it resolved right then and there.  From the Kroger parking lot I called Aetna.  I was told that Anthem was listed as her primary provider.  No, I told the representative, Anthem is our supplementary insurance for Medicare Part A and Part B, not Part D.  She said that she could get it resolved but I’d have to wait on the phone while she did so and it might take 30 – 45 minutes.  Well, she was right.  It took about 45 minutes of being on hold.  Several times during that time she came back online to ask some questions, get Lynn’s phone number to call her to make sure I had her approval to seek this, etc.  Finally, nearly an hour after I had gotten the original prescription, she came back on and said it was all taken care of.  She had other good news—under our plan the price for Lynn’s medicine was $0.  I quickly went back into Kroger and they were able to verify that now Aetna was Lynn’s primary provider for prescription drugs, got the bill switched, and my credit card refunded the amount I had paid earlier.  It was worth the hassle. 

On today’s news, the CDC confirmed that anyone who is two weeks beyond vaccination is fully protected and can meet with others who are in the same condition without masks or social distancing.  Great!

Here are today’s statistics:

March 8               Infected                   Died

World             117,736,220           2,611,525

US                     29,741,865              538,573

Virginia                586,592                  9,683

Augusta County       5,251                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,306,251  (823,887 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        25,908  (10,356 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The numbers continue to improve.  Augusta had only five new cases with zero new deaths or hospitalizations.

March 9, 2021

Today was the prettiest day we’ve had in 2021.  Lynn had to work this morning for Rockingham County Public Schools so I had plenty of time to take a 2.6 mile walk.  It felt and smelled really nice outside.  I had hoped to walk a second time with Lynn but she didn’t get back home from her work in Harrisonburg until mid-afternoon.  Then, her friend Cheryl Wright came over and the two of them did Cricut work for a while. 

Jim had made arrangements with us to come here this evening around dusk to pick up the trailer and his big zero-turn mower which has been sitting in our garage.  I did what I could to get things ready for him before he came here but there wasn’t a lot I could do.

He got here about 6:45.  We quickly jumped on what we had to do:  unload his two snow blowers from the truck, then move the truck to the field and attach the trailer to it, then come back to the driveway and load his mower on the trailer.  Finally, we moved the snow blowers into the garage where the mower had been.  Everything went smoothly.  Lynn and I had taken food to Elizabeth shortly before he came and we then made a stop at Chicano Boy Taco to pick up dinner for the three of us.  We ate the dinner shortly before he left to get back to Roanoke.  He wasn’t here 30 minutes in total.

We found out that our new garage doors will be installed on March 24.  That will make it nicer for us.  Right now we cannot raise the garage door in front of where Lynn parks because the spring is broken.

After Jim left this evening, Lynn and I made a run to Smiley’s for dessert.  We won’t be eating there for several days because we’ll be leaving for Boone NC tomorrow morning as soon as Lynn’s physical therapy for her back is done.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 9               Infected                   Died

World             118,144,229           2,621,025

US                     29,800,212              540,455

Virginia                588,129                  9,790

Augusta County       5,253                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,369,608  (850,774 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        26,047  (10,421 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County had only two new cases today.  Hurray!  Maybe we’re getting a grip on this virus now.  I know it was nice for me to not worry about wearing a mask when I was in Ed Smith’s home or with Cheryl Wright in our house today because all of us are fully vaccinated.

March 10, 2021

Today was our day to drive to Boone, NC for a min-vacation.  We chose Boone because this is one part of North Carolina we’ve never been to.  We had seen online that there were some good places to see.  The weather forecast was very good so it made sense to come and enjoy our vaccinated bodies.

We couldn’t leave until after Lynn had her initial physical therapy session at Synergy in Verona.  We had no idea how long this would take.  We got there at 7:45.  She went in while I waited in the car, working Whirly Word puzzles, trying to nap, etc.  I had no idea that she would be inside until almost 9:30.  But it was a good therapy session for her and she is scheduled to go twice a week for the next six weeks.

Soon we were heading south on I-81.  Traffic was normal—not light, not heavy.  We were on I-81 from Verona to just north of Abingdon.  We had thought about eating lunch at Draper Mercantile which we’ve done in the past, but we had brought along yogurt so we just ate at a rest stop south of Wytheville.

Once we got off I-81 we rode on Rt. 91 to Damascus.  We’d taken this road plenty of times in the past since we ride bikes out of Damascus.  But from Damascus on it was new territory for us.  The road to Boone was windy and actually went from Virginia to Tennesssee to North Carolina.  We got to our hotel around 2:00, thus making it around a 4 ½ hour drive. 

After we checked in and unloaded, we decided to go to Blowing Rock today.  It was about 12 miles away and an easy drive.  I took lots of good pictures—you can see in my pictures why the mountains are called Blue Ridge.  After we visited Blowing Rock we drove to a park with a trail called the Glen Burney trail in the middle of the town of Blowing Rock.  Lynn had found this trail on a map we’d been given.  It said that the trail was “strenuous” but went by several pretty waterfalls so we decided to take it.  The first half mile was very mild so we thought that it had been mislabeled strenuous.  But then we started going down and down and down, over thousands of roots and rocks.  Walking went very slowly, especially since Lynn had a bad back.  The trail was supposed to be around 1.6 miles out and the same distance back.  We made it most of the way before turning back.  It was certainly strenuous coming back up to our car.  But there were many scenic parts of the trail and I did get some good photos.

We were ready for dinner by the time our walk was over.  We thought we should eat local food so we went to a place called the Pedaling Pig so we could enjoy North Carolina BBQ.  It was a very good choice.  We split a sampler intended for one person though it was plenty for the two of us.

We had a chance to drive around Boone a little.  It is the home of Appalachian State University and is certainly a college town.  In fact, if the University was not here I’m not sure what would be.  And this city is so remote that you have to wonder why it was built here.  This town is of Daniel Boone history and has less than 20,000 population.  The traffic wasn’t bad here and it was fairly easy to find your way around.  We scoped out a bakery I’ll be going to tomorrow morning to grab sticky buns for our breakfast and a McDonald’s to get Lynn’s sweet tea on the way back.

One disappointment was that we decided to find some good North Carolina ice cream.  There was an ice cream bar listed not too far from our hotel but when we drove there we found that it was closed, perhaps due to the pandemic.  Not to be deterred, we found another ice cream store called Kilwin’s.  The only issue was that it was back in Blowing Rock.  Nonetheless, we drove there and enjoyed a good dessert.

We returned to the hotel tired after a fairly long day.  I did not sleep well at all last night so I was particularly exhausted.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 10             Infected                   Died

World             118,608,657           2,630,911

US                     29,858,762              542,018

Virginia                589,375                  9,849

Augusta County       5,258                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,428,900  (882,082 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        26,768  (11,122 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County still has 145 hospitalized with COVID-19.

March 11, 2021

I was sore all day today from our walk on that strenuous trail yesterday.  Nonetheless, we got in over 10,000 steps today. 

First thing this morning, Lynn washed her hair while I went to a bakery called Stick Boys Bakery to get us some pastries for breakfast.  They were great and I’ll be back there tomorrow morning to get her another sticky bun with pecans and raisins on it.  After breakfast, we hopped in the car and drove to Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina’s highest point.  It took about 40 minutes to get there.  It was a little expensive, $20 each, but we were able to drive up the mountain then walk on a mile-high swinging bridge.  Of course, I took lots of pictures.  We also went to a nature preserve within the park but most of the animals weren’t available for view yet such as the bears, cougars, and elk.  We did see an otter and an eagle. 

On our way back to Boone, we took a short detour to a little town where Mast’s General Store was begun many, many years ago and which has been preserved well.  The store is still a working retail store. 

Getting home around lunchtime, we ate our lunch, rested for a little while, then headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway and a trail called the Cascades trail about 30 minutes from the hotel in the opposite direction as Grandfather Mountain.  The sign said the trail was a leisurely 30 minute walk but actually it was a tough walk similar to yesterday’s strenuous hike.  It was worth it, though, as we saw a beautiful waterfall after trudging down the trail.  It took us a lot longer than a half hour to get back to our car.  I had to stop and rest several times.

Back in Boone, we stopped at a TJ Maxx for Lynn to look for some tennis shoes.  She was unsuccessful.  Then we came on to the hotel and rested some more before heading out to the campus of Applachian State University.  We parked in a visitor parking area then walked around the campus for about 45 minutes.  Appalachian State is similar to JMU.  It has about 18,000 students.  Its campus is fairly compact in Boone.  After all, Boone is in the middle of a very mountainous area of North Carolina so there isn’t a lot of spare space for buildings.

From there we drove to dinner at a restaurant called Vidalia.  Lynn had found this on line and was enamored that they offered a tomato pie appetizer.  She had that plus some pimento cheese on bread (actually it was sourdough multigrain bread from the bakery where I had bought our breakfast, Stick Boy), and a pear salad.  I had chicken and waffles and couldn’t eat it all.  No ice cream for us tonight.

The town of Boone is very careful with COVID-19 protocols.  Most stores have a sign in them which says “No Mask, No Service.” 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 11             Infected                   Died

World             119.095,926           2,640,843

US                     29,922,305              543,585

Virginia                590,625                  9,902

Augusta County       5,261                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,493,097  (916,276 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        27,435  (11,493 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 145 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.

I was exhausted by the end of the day again.  I did not sleep well again last night.  Hopefully tonight I’ll finally get a good night’s sleep.

March 12, 2021

I did get a good night’s sleep last night which helped me a lot.  The drive home was a long one; we got here about 1:45. We were supposed to leave after Lynn did an interpreting session for Rockingham County Public Schools but it turns out that the Spanish speaking mother was a no-show so we got away sooner than we expected.

Before we left we again enjoyed breakfast from Stick Boys Bakery.  Plus, Lynn asked me to get two loaves of their Country Multigrain Sourdough bread.  We’ll have it for breakfast for the next several days.

On the way home we went by Ashe County Cheese Shop, a company in West Jefferson, NC where we were not only able to purchase a lot of different kinds of cheese but also see it being made.  This was about 30 minutes from Boone. 

Ashe County rang a bell with me and when I got home I confirmed that 8 generations ago William and Elizabeth Hill migrated to West Virginia from Ashe County.  I had thought that Ashe County would have been near Asheville but it turns out it is not. 

This was a good trip for us—not too long but still to somewhere we’d never been.  We got everything done we had scheduled to do.  We ate well and got our steps in. 

The drive home took a total of about 4 ½ hours; our only stop after the Cheese Shop was at a rest stop for a bathroom break and lunch (yogurt from our cooler). 

Lynn had scheduled a Physical Therapy session today at 4:00 and that’s one reason why we left Boone early in the morning.  We got back in plenty of time to unpack our belongings.  She even did a load of laundry before leaving for her PT. 

This was Friday so our dinner was the usual—hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike. 

Today is March 12.  A year ago on March 12 we watched Henry play his one and only soccer game as a freshman.  That weekend was when things came to a standstill with COVID-19.   So we have been under this coronavirus canopy for a full year now.  Thanks goodness things are finally looking up.  On our way home we learned that Josh had gotten an appointment for his first Pfizer vaccine next week.  Hurrah!

I’ve pretty much decided to keep this blog going until April 20.  That will be one full year, 365 posts.  Writing daily has helped me deal with all of the frustrations, fears, and pressure of COVID-19.  Now that Lynn and I are fully vaccinated we both feel a tremendous relief.  I’ve written over 500 pages of text already.

After our dinner tonight, I decided to watch the Fort Defiance – Riverheads football game, broadcast over the NFHS network.  I didn’t expect the game to be very close.  Fort has a 1 – 1 record this year while Riverheads has won the last four Class 1 state championships.   To my recollection, these two teams have not played in many, many years.  At least the two teams had a beautiful night for football though I still preferred to watch it from the comforts of our basement.

Riverheads is a grind-it-out team and they certainly did on their first possession, including a big play on 4th and 11.  They scored after a 4 ½ minute drive, taking the lead 7-0.  Fort, on the other hand, ill-advisedly went for it with 4th and 3 from their own 33 yard line.  The play turned into a fumble and Riverheads was on their way for an apparent second score.  Again it came down to a 4th down play from the 4 yard line but their pass fell incomplete and Fort took back over.  They couldn’t do anything and ended up punting.  The entire quarter was played on the Fort Defiance side of the field—not a good sign.  Penalty after penalty went against the Indians.  Riverheads scored with a few seconds left in the quarter to take a 14 – 0 lead.  From the get-go, Fort played in a desperation mode, going for fake punts and 4th down runs, none of which worked.  Meanwhile, Riverheads kept grinding it out with very few penalties.  None of their plays went for long yardage but none went backwards.  Fort didn’t cross the 50 yard line until late in the first half and they fumbled on the next play.  The halftime score was 35 – 0.   I quit watching at the end of the third and the score 49 – 0.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 12             Infected                   Died

World             119,582,242           2,650,508

US                     29,989,051              545,354

Virginia                592,214                  9,961

Augusta County       5,267                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,557,478  (945,336 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,126  (12,459 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County now has 147 residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  You’d think with all the progress that has been made with vaccinations this number would decrease but it is higher than ever.

March 13, 2021

Today was a good Saturday.  The weather was nice—nice enough for Lynn and me to take a walk this afternoon.  This morning we were busy doing things for other people.

We started at Central picking up a large box of food for the Aguirre family.  Central is given SO much food by one of the local Food Lion grocery stores and today was an especially big haul.  We were able to take just a fraction of that food yet fill a large box with groceries for Elizabeth and family.  We were also able to put together a box for Lynn’s student Juan Pablo.  We then delivered the boxes.  They live in opposite directions—Elizabeth in Mount Solon and Juan Pablo in Waynesboro.  Between we made a stop at Walmart to pick up a few items.  It is so nice to be able to go into Walmart (and other stores) without worrying about COVID-19.  By the time we picked up and delivered the food and returned home, it was almost noon.

Next I made my weekly trip to the dump including stopping by the Gutshall’s to get theirs.  The old truck works just fine for this task.  We talked to Ann about having her family over for dinner and we agreed that tonight would work.

That meant Lynn spent a lot of time this afternoon fixing a marvelous supper.  She marinated two huge packages of chicken strips and made a large batch of onion fritters.  And she cooked a large pot of green beans.  And she made rolls using her sour dough.  We needed every bit of it for our dinner.  Every piece of chicken, every onion fritter, and every roll was eaten.  There were a few green beans left over.  Plus, she found a nice ice cream treat she had bought at Aldi’s which served as a good dessert.

We ate outside.  The temperature was in the low 60’s so it was very bearable.  The only thing we both forgot about was that Betsy doesn’t eat meat products any longer but fortunately we were able to add pimento cheese to the mix so she had that along with her rolls and onion fritters. 

Freddie brought a football to toss but even before we ate he reminded me that I had told him that I’d play tennis with him when the weather was better.  It was better today, for sure, so I couldn’t say no.  He actually did very well.  His eye-hand coordination has definitely improved.  It was fun.  Henry and Gus got on the court and hit some balls, too.  Ann, Josh, Lynn, and I were able to chat after we ate.  Everything was almost like old times.  It felt sooooooo good.

Henry had previously asked if I’d help him with some math so when it got dark the others went home and Henry stayed.  He and I worked for about an hour on his assignment.  He catches on very quickly so it wasn’t hard to show him what to do.  Of course, I had a good time doing the problems with him.

This was the weekend for conference basketball championships but none of our favorite teams made it to the finals of their tournament.  WVU got beat by Oklahoma State in the Big 12 quarterfinals, Virginia Tech lost to North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals, and UVA had to drop out of the ACC tournament due to a COVID-19 infection.  Tomorrow is the day that brackets are made for the NCAA March Madness tournament.  All of our teams should make it in the tournament; it will be interesting to see how they do.

This time next weekend all four of Ann, Josh, Lynn, and I will be vaccinated since Josh gets his first on Tuesday. 

Tonight is the night to set our clocks ahead for spring.  That means daylight will last longer beginning tomorrow night.  I love daylight savings time.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 13             Infected                   Died

World             120,042,087           2,659,118

US                     30,043,662              546,605

Virginia                593,562                  9,985

Augusta County       5,277                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,623,902  (971,254 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,560  (12,681 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Now there are 148 Augusta County residents hospitalized.  When will this number ever stop increasing?? 

March 14, 2021

The weather this Sunday was again nice so once again we were able to get in our standard two mile walk after lunch.  The temperature was a little cooler than yesterday but still around 60o

The morning was a typical Sunday morning.  I did our Zoom Sunday School class.  Lynn did some cleaning up around the house.  We both enjoyed getting up a little later since this was the first morning of daylight savings time.

This time of the year I debate with myself about when to turn the oil burner off and heat just with the heat pump.  Right now they work in tandem to keep our house nice and warm.  There’s no question to me that the hot water radiator heat from the boiler feels warmer so I’m hesitant to turn it off.  I think I’m going to wait one more week to make the change to heat pump only.

This afternoon was a lazy one.  We watched a little of the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship which involved WVU playing Baylor.  Baylor was much too strong, though, and won easily. 

I grilled ribeye steaks tonight.  We also fixed some of the little potatoes from Costco and had green beans left over.  It was a good meal.

After that, we decided to get in walk #2 for the day, enjoying the extra daylight now.  We drove to Grottoes and walked one loop on the 1.4 mile walkway around their park.  It was an easy walk, just right for my fitness and Lynn’s bad back.  From there we drove to Smiley’s and had ice cream.

We got home just in time to Zoom with Jim and Kay.  Both were a little late joining; it turns out I had the wrong time on the invitation.  But we had a good chat with them.

Tonight featured the release of the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament schedule.  WVU plays Morehead State on Friday.  Also on Friday, Virginia Tech plays Florida and Georgia Tech plays Loyola Chicago.  On Saturday, Virginia plays Ohio U. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 14             Infected                   Died

World             120,401,629           2,664,662

US                     30,081,296              547,220

Virginia                594,735                10,019

Augusta County       5,279                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,684,791  (974,837 of whom are fully vaccinated)

            Augusta County        29,639  (12,681 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County only had two new cases since yesterday and no additional deaths or hospitalizations.  That’s encouraging.

March 15, 2021

Today was a typically busy Monday though I confess we didn’t get up until almost 7:00 AM whereas we used to get up at 6:00 AM.  That’s what daylight savings time has done to us.  As most Mondays, it started for me at Central paying bills, making the weekly deposit, etc.  This all went smoothly.

I next hustled to Bridgewater for my car’s state inspection appointment.  That also went smoothly.  By the time I got back home and grabbed some lunch it was time to go to Central again, this time to unload the Food Bank’s truck.  The order this week was only two pallets of food but it was still much easier to unload the pallets in the Church’s parking lot from their truck than to have to drive to Verona to get them then haul them to Central on my pickup truck.

Lynn and I walked when I got back home.  My legs had been hurting while walking but today they felt OK.  The temperature was in the mid 40’s so we had to bundle up.

We opted to get pizza tonight despite having leftovers from last night’s steak dinner.  Now we’ll have leftovers for the next two nights.  The reason for getting pizza tonight is that Vito’s Pizza Pie isn’t open on Tuesday nights.  It is really good pizza.

I spent a lot of time after dinner checking on a place for our entire family to stay at Vic and Amy’s wedding in Kennebunkport, ME.  It may be that one or more families don’t decide to make the 10 hour drive there this summer but we felt like we should go ahead and get rooms reserved which can later be canceled instead of trying to make last-minute reservations when they may not be available.  On Vic and Amy’s wedding website, several hotels were mentioned.  The actual hotel where the wedding will be was a possibility but it was very expensive.  In the meantime, we learned that the DeLeo family (Joseph, Kit, MK, and families) had rented a house.  It turned out that one of the hotels on the list of suggested ones from Vic and Amy is only 0.3 mile from the house the DeLeo’s will be at.  Plus, this hotel, the Rhumb Line Resort, had both indoor and outdoor pools.  And its rates were approximately half the cost of the rooms at the resort where the wedding will be.  So, we called tonight and reserved five rooms, including one for my brother.  We got them all together and poolside.

One issue is vaccination.  Ann, Josh, Jim, Lynn, and I will have had our vaccines.  But Kay and Andy have no idea when they will be able to get theirs.  We’re told that by July everyone who wants one will have been vaccinated.  But until that happens there’s still some uncertainty in the Foy family.

Tonight I got a text from one of my old tennis buddies asking if I was interested and available this Wednesday morning to play at the Mary Baldwin courts.  I said yes.  I hope I still remember how to hit the ball!

I didn’t see the news tonight so I have no idea what’s new with the COVID-19 pandemic, but here are the statistics:

March 15             Infected                   Died

World             120,754,630           2,671,535

US                     30,136,475              547,991

Virginia                595,865                10,060

Augusta County       5,285                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,740,975  (1,010,519 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,383  (12,884 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

A landmark of over a million Virginians fully vaccinated; yet, a new record for Augusta County hospitalizations due to coronavirus—149.

March 16, 2021

Today was one of those days that, on reflecting back on what happened, I had a difficult time remembering much of anything significant that occurred.  Maybe I’m getting old, maybe today was just boring.  Either way, the most significant thing that happened was that Josh got his first Pfizer vaccine.

Lynn got a haircut early this morning.  As soon as she got back, we both took her car to McDonough Toyota.  Her car had an appointment there to be inspected (McDonough inspects cars bought there for free) and we wanted to have a look at the new 2021 Venzas since we may elect to get Lynn a new car this year, freeing up for Ann’s family, should they want it, the opportunity to get a good deal from us on Lynn’s RAV 4.  Lynn’s car is a 2017 model with 85,000 miles but has nothing wrong with it that I know of.

The Venza has three different models.  No surprise, the salesman there that we have dealt with in the past, Richard Harlow, started us with the top of the line, the Limited Edition.  It was an impressive car with leather seats, a 12.3” touchscreen display, and, like all Venzas, was a hybrid.  We took it for a short drive.  The touchscreen included navigation that was easy to use.  I could tell Lynn was hooked on this one.  We looked at the bottom of the line, the LE, which costs about $11,000 less than the Limited Edition.  It had a much smaller screen with no navigation.  The Limited Edition was keyless; the LE had a key.  The Limited Edition had seats that both were heated and self-cooled; the LE had neither. 

I did want Lynn to look at the 2021 Rav4 as well but McDonough had only one left and it was one of the entry level ones which she wasn’t interested in.  So we left with Richard promising to let us know when they got more Rav4’s in so we could compare it to the Venza.  Personally, I think Lynn’s mind is already made up but we didn’t discuss it much.

We were back in time for Lynn to do her scheduled 11:30 Zoom.  Two days a week she, a teacher, a parent, and a non-communicative three year old who won’t wear a mask have a Zoom meeting.  Today, for the first time, as they were finishing up the young boy said “Bye” which is the first word Lynn has heard him speak.

This afternoon was frustrating for me.  I had agreed to meet three other men at Central at 1:00 to help unload a new refrigerator that Central was getting from the Food Bank.  I was at CUMC yesterday when Caroline Jones got the call that the truck would be here today at 1:00.  Well, we waited and waited.  Caroline called several times.  Finally, near 3:00 the truck arrived.  But getting it into the church was not an easy task.  It was a very large, two door refrigerator that came enclosed in a wooden case for transport.  It wouldn’t fit through the double door on Central’s first floor until we removed the threshold.  Then it squeezed in where we quickly saw that it wouldn’t fit through the door into the Food Pantry room.  So on Thursday we’re going to try to remove its wheels which will lower it enough to slide through the door where we’ll re-attach the wheels.  The issue is that it is very, very heavy. 

I hustled home.  Henry was waiting for me with two pages of a math assignment he wanted help with.  These were very tough problems I’m going to label as Algebra III such as finding all the zeros of the polynomial f(x) = x4 – x3 – 31x2 + x + 30 = 0.  There were several key concepts in this assignment involving theorems I hadn’t looked at for years and years including Decartes’ Rule of Signs and the Rational Root Theorem.  They quickly came back to me but it still took us nearly two hours to complete his assignment.  Henry is a quick learner, very good at math, but having only three hours (at most) of math per week is not enough for tough material like this.  Worst of all, apparently he has no textbook for this course.  With no textbook, how can a student see examples of how to solve problems?  I think one of the most important things to learn when you take a math course is to learn to read the textbook, following its examples.  In his class, the instruction is all from the teacher in class; there is no textbook to see additional examples from.  I do think his teacher, a former colleague of mine, must be working hard to keep on top of this math, but I really wish he had a good textbook.  COVID-19 has really been tough on math classes because students can’t collaborate with each other outside of class because they can’t get together.  Henry is a quick learner; I’m not sure how others in the class who don’t have his propensity for math are surviving.

Yesterday I called AAA in Charlottesville to check on the money we had put toward last year’s Puerto Rico trip.  I had to wait almost an hour before I got through to an agent.  I quickly learned that the agent we had worked with last year, before the pandemic, no longer works there.  But the lady I spoke to found out information.  She said she would need to do some checking about our deposit and would get back to me within 24 hours at the latest.  Well, it has now been 36 hours and I have nothing from her.  We put down around $2,400 on this trip before the pandemic and I am not going to politely forfeit this money. 

Again I didn’t have a chance to watch the news today but I did look online.  The cool thing is that there is little news of consequence nowadays.  What a change since Trump left office!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 16             Infected                   Died

World             121,215,268           2,681,621

US                     30,190,361              549,246

Virginia                597,141                10,104

Augusta County       5,294                       70

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,775,063  (1,025,332 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,505  (12,983 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County had the same number of hospitalized residents today as yesterday, 149.  But the number of cases in the County has dramatically slowed as it has elsewhere. 

March 17, 2021

We got our stimulus money today.  That should help with the new car purchase.  Jim told us he got his, also.

My morning was spent at Eddie Smith’s house.  He had four or five things he wanted done on his new computer and it took me a long time but I finally got them all done.  He is such a good man; I’d do most anything for him.  He is 86 years old but his mind is still quite sharp.

After lunch I ran a couple of errands—picked up a prescription at Kroger and dropped off a library book for Lynn.  Then I went to the Mary Baldwin tennis courts to play a couple of sets of doubles for the first time in a year.  The weather was fine—temps in the lower 60’s.  My tennis wasn’t but I didn’t expect it to be.  I played with Rob Cale, Marc Kinder, and Pat Peason.  They have been playing outside regularly.  They enthusiastically welcomed me back which made me feel good despite the fact that I didn’t play that well.   Rob and I played together the first set and lost 6 – 3.  Pat and I played together the second set.  It was a long one but we lost 9 – 7.  I was really tired by the time we finished.  That had been 1 ½ hours for me.  I did enjoy it, though.

I got home in time to meet Josh and Freddie.  Josh dropped Freddie off so he could take Betsy to dance.  Freddie and I played tennis for a short while then we went to Clymore Elementary so he could play on the playground there.  Plus, that’s where I was to meet Henry and Gus after their soccer open-field so this worked out well.  With the three boys, I returned to the house so Gus could pick up his Playstation then I took them home.

When I got back, Lynn wanted to walk so we did our standard two mile walk.  I was quite tired when we got back home—I walked well over my 10,000 step goal today.  We had leftover pizza for dinner then I went downstairs and filled in my NCAA mens basketball brackets for the upcoming tournament.  I did this twice—once on the Worthington PickHoops site that Lynn’s brother Bill hosts and again on the WHSV TV-3 site.  When you fill in brackets, there are basically two choices:  use your head or use your heart.  I went for the latter and picked seven of the eight quarterfinalists to be from the Big 12 Conference.  And, of course, I have WVU winning it all.  They never have but maybe this will be the first time.  Actually I know I’m just donating $5 to the Worthington pool.

This morning I called Ann because John Bauman told me yesterday that he had changed his internet provider to the Elon Musk satellite system known as Starlink.  I knew that Ann had been waiting for months for this to be offered so once I knew John was on it I let Ann know.  She immediately signed up for it.  I guess it will be a few days before she receives her equipment but it will be interesting to see if it works OK for them.  They have DISH network and it works fine and this is the same idea so maybe it will finally give them a way to get a good interenet connection.  I hope so!

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 17             Infected                   Died

World             121,787,983           2,691,485

US                     30,291,308              550,552

Virginia                598,468                10,154

Augusta County       5,297                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,810,928  (1,036,399 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        30,884  (13,335 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Strangely, Augusta County’s death total decreased by one.  Perhaps there was a previous data entry error.  And although there were only three new cases in the county, an all time record for hospitalizations was set at 150.  It seems to me that those hospitalized are not making anywhere near a rapid recovery.

March 18, 2021

Today was rainy and cold all day so there was no tennis playing or walking.  Tomorrow is supposed to be drier but even colder with a stiff wind so I may not get in any exercise then, either.  I’m really starting to doubt that I can get in shape for a 150 mile bicycle ride by early May.

I joined John Bauman, Pastor Won, and Bill Bushman at Central this morning to get the giant refrigerator in to the Food Pantry room where it was scheduled to go.  It wasn’t easy.  First we had to jack it up and remove its wheels.  We also removed the door from the Food Pantry Room.  Then we gently slid it through the door, a very tight fit.  Once in the room, we had to reinstall the room door and its wheels, then install its shelves.  But after about two hours it was up and running and the room was clean.  After that I spent around an hour doing CUMC treasurer’s work.

In the meantime, Lynn went to Harrisonburg to test a student.  She didn’t come home afterwards because she had an interpreting session scheduled at Lacey Spring Elementary School at 3:15. I guess she made a few dollars today testing and interpreting.

I was here when Freddie’s bus came.  Betsy also got off and stayed with me until Ann got here.  I fixed hot chocolate for them and we played Wii until she came.   About the same time she got here, Lynn also got back home.

Some good news is that vaccinations, nationwide, are ahead of schedule.  NBC news reported that President Joe Biden said he was poised to meet his goal of administering 100 million Covid-19 vaccination shots in his first 100 days on Friday, more than 40 days ahead of schedule.  “I am proud to announce that tomorrow, 58 days into my administration, we will have met our goal,” Biden said Thursday afternoon in a speech at the White House.   But cases are rising now again in 15 states.  Doctors like Dr. Fauci warn that opening up too soon, letting our guard down especially with spring break coming up, could cause a 4th wave of COVID-19. 

The good news is that CNN says if Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the mass vaccination of our most vulnerable are likely to limit increases in hospitalizations and deaths. People age 65 and older make up more than 80% of all Covid-19 deaths, according to Centers for Disease Control and Preventation data. Yet 66% of people 65 and older have had at least one vaccine dose and about 39% are fully vaccinated, which sharply cuts down on the risk of hospitalization and death.

The CDC is expected to change its recommendations for schools tomorrow making the social distance three feet instead of six feet for students wearing masks.  This will be just in time for Augusta County which plans to have students return four days per week on April 15.

After a long day at work, Lynn’s back was painful for her tonight.  She had to lie down soon after dinner.  She had physical therapy yesterday plus we walked afterwards so maybe she was exhausted.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

March 18             Infected                   Died

World             122,320,822           2,701,390

US                     30,353,507              552,146

Virginia                600,550                10,182

Augusta County       5,306                       69

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,870,901  (1,053,711 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        32,155  (13,702 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The number of hospitalizations in Augusta County remains at 150. 

March 19, 2021

Lynn worked giving tests at Turner Ashby High School this morning.  I had nothing important to do so I went to the Staunton YMCA and walked.  It was the first time in a year that I had been in the Y despite keeping my membership each month.  It was too cold to walk outside so all I did was to walk around the short track there for an hour.  It was boring but the environment was pleasant.

I am somewhat out of place at a place like the Y.  I am certainly not a body-builder and there were lots of them there.  They weren’t walking like I was but I passed by all of the gym machines as I walked.  I have never and will never have a sculpted body.

After Lynn came home at lunchtime we ran a bunch of errands in Harrisonburg before returning home in time to watch the second half of the VA Tech – Florida basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  In my brackets I had picked the higher rated Florida to win though I greatly preferred for the Hokies to prevail.  They led 33 – 27 at the half.  With less than ten minutes to go they held on to a 48 – 44 lead.  They had been ahead practically the whole game.  But with four minutes to go Florida went on a 7 point run and took a 56 – 52 lead.   The Hokies went on a four minute drought with no field goals and fell behind 59  – 53.  With one minute to go they were down 62 – 57.  With seven seconds to go and the score 64 – 61 Tech missed a 3-point chance to tie the game.  Florida had two shots to seal the game but missed both.  Tech rebounded and hit a three pointer to send the game to overtime.  Unfortunately, Florida held on in overtime and hit a three pointer with 23 seconds to go making the score 74 – 70.  They missed again and had to foul.  The final score was 75 – 70.

Between games Lynn had another Physical Therapy session at Synergy in Verona.  While she did that I went to the Staunton library for her then went to Krogers to get some groceries.  After we returned home we got our standard Friday night dinner—hamburgers from the Old School food truck.  We also picked up some for Bonnie and Ron Ball and delivered them to their house.

Tonight I watched two different sports at once.  On my iPad I watched the Fort Defiance – Stuarts Draft high school football game.  It wasn’t much of a game as once again Fort was awful.  The final score was 35 – 0.  At the same time I watched more of the NCAA tournament, seeing Georgia Tech lose to Chicago Loyola and the Oklahoma State – Liberty game.  I’ve already lost a few games in my bracket so I needed Oklahoma State to come through.  They did not play well and fell behind in the first half.  In the second half they played a little better and Liberty seemed to get worn down.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 19             Infected                   Died

World             122,866,399           2,712,435

US                     30,423,093              553,917

Virginia                602,182                10,092

Augusta County       5,314                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            2,940,103  (1,075,770 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        32,673  (14,048 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

Those who maintain Virginia’s statistics must be doing some corrections because the number of deaths in Virginia decreased by 90 overnight and the number of deaths in Augusta County decreased by 3.  Augusta County still has 150 hospitalized.

The WVU – Morehead State game didn’t come on until 9:50 this evening so I’ll write about it tomorrow.  WVU is the kind of team that can beat any team and lose to any team.  Morehead State had won 19 of its last 20 games coming into the game so I was worried even though WVU was a 3 seed and its opponent a 14 seed.

March 20, 2021

The Mountaineers came through late last night.  The game was close for a while but in the second half WVU dominated the Eagles and took a 84 – 76 win.  They were ahead for most of the game but Morehead State wouldn’t go away.  It was a good win for the Mounties, coach Bob Huggins’ 900th win.   They now play Syracuse tomorrow afternoon.

Today started out like a typical Saturday.  We left fairly early to pick up groceries for Elizabeth’s family then took them out to her.  Lynn had invited her Cheryl friends over around noon.  I had my usual Saturday morning trash run to do plus I wanted to swap the current locations of my lawnmower (shed) and Jim’s snowblowers (garage) because we’re getting new garage doors this Wednesday and I wanted to start cleaning out our garage some.

We then got a great phone call.  I had previously made a deal with Jim that I would buy him a new special drill for drilling in brick/concrete if he would install a bird feeder on our brick back porch.  He said he could pick up the drill today and come and do the job.  Best of all, he said he would be bringing Coen and Faron with him.

We have seen all of our grandchildren during the pandemic but none so rarely as Faron and Coen.  In fact, they had not been to our house since Thanksgiving of 2019.  So it had been 16 months since they had come here.  Their mother has been extremely protective of them but agreed that Jim could bring them here today if they stayed outside the whole time.

They got here around 12:45 and stayed for four hours.  It was four great hours for Lynn and me.  The boys played on our playset.  They swung in the Pergola.  They rode their bikes and scooters on our tennis court which Jim had brought with him.  They rode our big wheels there.  They played basketball and football.  They ran all over the yard, climbed the big maple tree, and ate their McDonald’s lunch on our back porch.  They played on the seesaw, did the monkey bars, and swung on the playset swings.  I took over 100 pictures.  In the meantime, Jim used his new tool to install two bird feeders for Lynn plus some other tasks.  Before they headed back to Roanoke, we all went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  It was a fantastic afternoon.

The weather was wonderful—sunny and not cold.  It was a marvelous day.

After we got back from Smileys, Lynn and I ordered a calzone from the New York Pizza shop in Mount Sidney.  I copied my 111 new pictures to several locations then settled in to watch some more NCAA basketball including the Virginia – Ohio game.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

March 20             Infected                   Died

World             123,406,872           2,721,077

US                     30,479,306              554,877

Virginia                604,475                10,104

Augusta County       5,323                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,014,056  (1,092,681 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,005  (14,207 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

I heard on the news today that it was exactly one year ago today when Virginia had its first COVID-19 infection.  Wow—since then over 604,000 have gotten it.  It’s good to see that more than 3 million Virginians have at least one vaccine shot.  I wish Kay and Andy could get one.  The rest of the adults in my immediate family have at least one.

March 21, 2021

This was a typical Sunday for us.  It began with Sunday School for me again.  In the meantime, Lynn began working on dinner for the Gutshall family.  They agreed to come over early to watch the WVU – Syracuse basketball game.  They watched downstairs and Lynn and I watched upstairs.

The weather was very nice again so Lynn and I took our standard two mile walk after lunch.  I really need to do more exercise and get in better shape if I’m to do the bicycle ride in early May.

The NCAA basketball tournament has really been interesting so far this year.  There have been many big upsets:  Oral Roberts University over Ohio State, Ohio University over Virginia, and Abilene Christian over Texas.  Today’s big upset included Loyola Chicago over #1 seeded Illinois, 71 – 58.  Unfortunately there was another upset this evening:  Syracuse defeated my beloved Mountaineers.  WVU got behind 14 points a couple of times then came back to even take the lead but the hot-shooting Orangemen took my Mountaineers out of the tournament.  It was very, very, very disappointing.

Ann’s family came over tonight.  Lynn had spent a lot of time today fixing a huge dinner including creamed turkey, rice, lima beans, corn, and rolls.  We watched the first half of the basketball game, ate dinner at halftime, when watched the rest of the game.  After the game I played some tennis outside with Henry, Gus, and Freddie. 

March 21             Infected                   Died

World             123,844,154           2,727,286

US                     30,521,658              555,298

Virginia                604,904                10,117

Augusta County       5,330                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,075,086  (1,114,156 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,215  (14,233 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

The number of Augusta County residents hospitalized keeps on rising.  Today it reached another all-time high at 151.  This happened despite the number of those infected has decreased markedly.  I can’t explain it. 

March 22, 2021

Today was a typical Monday.  I spent a couple of hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work which today included counting the offering, making the deposit at the bank and in QuickBooks, paying a bill, setting up the payroll for March 31, and paying two of the benefits (insurance and retirement) that are paid monthly for Pastor Won.  It all went smoothly.

When I came home, Lynn was still at Turner Ashby High School testing students so I decided to spent some time on my bike.  My bike is now mounted on a trainer in our basement.  That way I can peddle and watch tv at the same time.  I’m worried about my legs holding out when we do the 150 mile hike in early May but I’m also quite worried about my butt surviving that long on my bike’s saddle seat.  So I spent 40 minutes peddling and sitting on the seat. 

When Lynn got home we ate lunch then took a walk.  The weather was very nice again with highs around 60. 

Later in the day I did another 20 minutes on the bike so, all in all, I was on it for an hour today.  I need to do this more often because I imagine we’ll be riding up to five hours a day when we ride in Missouri.  To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure I’m going to make that trip because I don’t want to be the one that holds everyone else back just because I’m not in shape.  If I don’t feel like I can do the ride then I’ll drop out before leaving home.

I didn’t get much else done today, unlike Lynn who not only tested students all morning but also did a Zoom interpreting session at another school while she was at Turner Ashby.  Plus, she did barber duties when she got home, cutting my hair.  She does a very nice job.

My only payback was using the new message gun she bought on her back.  It vibrates the soft tissue in her back, relaxing it.  She likes the relief it gives her.  She needs relief, too, as she is still far from recovered from her back injury.

I watched a little NCAA basketball tonight but my interest has greatly fallen off now that the teams I support:  WVU, VA Tech, UVA, and Georgia Tech have all lost in the tournament.  I have about zero chance of winning any of the brackets I turned in.

The news tonight is both good and bad for COVID-19.  The good news is that a fourth vaccine, AstraZeneca, had really good test results among the 30,000+ trials in the US.  Not a single person who took the vaccine had to be hospitalized with coronavirus.  But the interesting part of this development is that the US will likely not need this vaccine because there are already orders placed with the other three (Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson) to cover all Americans.  The bad news regarding COVID-19 is that twenty states, including Virginia, have showed an increase in infections over the past few days.  It’s no wonder that Florida has an increase; there were many videos of spring break parties there involving hundreds of young people with no masks nor social distancing.

We had some very good news today from a travel agent at AAA in Charlottesville.  We had contacted AAA to see what the status was on the $2,400 we had prepaid for our canceled Puerto Rico trip from last year.  We had fears that all or parts of this money would be lost.  Furthermore, we had learned that the travel agent we had worked with to plan this trip prior to the pandemic was no longer working there.  But the lady whom we had contacted got back to us today and reported to us that we had been placed in a deal with the travel company we originally planned the PR trip with that paid us 25% extra.  In other words, instead of losing some of our $2,400 deposit we actually now have a credit for over $2,900 with the company.  There are some strings attached.  First, we must use this credit and travel before December 15 of this year.  But we don’t have to travel to Puerto Rico; we can use the credit where ever this company has ties to airlines and hotels.  She sent us a link for their typical destinations which basically includes every content and most nations.  We made an appointment to meet her next Tuesday morning in Charlottesville to further explore our options.

It is obvious to use that we won’t be taking the Gutshall family to Puerto Rico this year because there is very little likelihood that the children will be vaccinated in 2021.  So we’ll just wait until 2022 and take them then, if that’s what they want.

In the meantime, Lynn somewhat has her eyes set on the Florida Keys.  She has wanted to go there for a long time.  But I don’t think we would need $2,900 to go to the Keys.  We’ll just have to find out from the travel agent what our options are. 

We have one long trip already in the works.  From July 17 – July 26 we will be traveling to Portugal and northern Spain, ending up in Barcelona.  This trip is with a company, Globus.  We originally planned to go with Globus to Brazil and Argentina but changed this to Portugal and Spain when we learned how COVID-19 has been so devasting in South America.  The truth is I don’t think Portugal and Spain will allow incoming visitors as of today but by July we hope this will not be an issue.

Of course, we also have the trip to Maine scheduled for June 30 – July 3 for Vic and Amy’s wedding.  We may be able to squeeze in a trip to Oregon at some time, too.  We just feel like we need to travel while we have the health.  Right now, Oregon recommended a 14 day quarantine for anyone visiting from out of state but hopefully this policy will be changed soon, too.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 22             Infected                   Died

World             124,266,969           2,734,701

US                     30,568,244              555,870

Virginia                605,967                10,127

Augusta County       5,334                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,123,190  (1,133,834 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        33,602  (14,435 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

There are still 151 Augusta County residents hospitalized.  I also found a statistic regarding national vaccines.  In the US, 124 million people (37% of the population) have received at least one dose and 44.1 million are fully vaccinated (13.45% of the population). 

March 23, 2021

All I had on my original schedule for today was tennis at 11:00 and Freddie’s bus arrival at 3:18.  But mid-morning I got a reminder from Savannah at Central UMC that this was the scheduled day for both Central’s Finance and Church Council meetings.  I hustled to Central to gather some data for the Finance meeting which we scheduled at 6:30 PM.  Then I headed to Mary Baldwin’s tennis courts.

It wasn’t hot today; it was overcast with temperatures in the low 50’s.  But it felt good to play tennis outside.  I played better than I did last week.  The other three players were Pastor Won, Marc Kinder, and Rob Cale.  We played three sets, rotating partners each set.  My record was 2 – 1 which was better than my last week’s record which had zero wins.

When I came home, I worked a good bit more getting ready for the Finance Committee meeting.  I always sound like a whiner at those meetings, complaining how our income doesn’t meet our expenses and that we’d really be struggling if we didn’t have our investment accounts to bail us out.

I also spent a lot of time today looking at various options with the travel company Travel Impressions which is the company holding our deposit from last year’s scheduled Puerto Rico trip.  There are lots of options for us to discuss when we meet with the travel agent next Tuesday.

At 6:30 we had the CUMC Finance Committee meeting via Zoom.  It went well and was followed by our monthly Council meeting at 7:00.  Everything was wrapped up by 8:00 and I quickly e-mailed the minutes.  I’m always glad to get that behind me.

Lynn made a delicious dinner tonight with an “oldie but goodie,” hamburger casserole.  It was particularly tasty, perhaps because it had been a while since she had fixed it.  Lynn is a really good cook but lately I’ve tried to keep her from cooking too often during the week because her back needs to be resting.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 23             Infected                   Died

World             124,775,908           2,745,146

US                     30,633,757              556,799

Virginia                607,234                10,137

Augusta County       5,342                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,149,148  (1,142,467 of whom are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        34,017  (14,758 of whom are fully vaccinated including us!)

A handful of states, including West Virginia, now offer vaccines to anyone 16 and over.  Virginia is not among them but an article I read today from CNN said that this might change sometime in April.  I hope so; Kay and Andy need a shot.

In the past two weeks there have been two more cases of multiple killings by a gunman with a semi-automatic gun, one in Atlanta and another in Colorado.  When will this stop?  When will our legislators quit bowing down to lobbies like the NRA and pass meaningful gun control legislation?  Why in the world does a person need a gun that can unload 50 shots per second?  I’m much more fearful of being killed by a white man with an AR-15 than by an attack from a Black Lives Matter advocate or illegal immigrant.  And I believe I’m much more at risk at Walmart or Krogers when I’m among people who pack than I am at home with no gun in the house.

March 24, 2021

The big item on the agenda today is that the Overhead Door crew came to install our new garage doors.  I had ordered the doors from Overhead Door because I had worked for years with Lowell Fulk who was employed there.  Lowell has been on the Rockingham County School Board for decades and I had many contacts with him when I worked for the school system.  Plus, he is an ardent Democrat, living in a heavily Republican county, so he and I are philosophically in sync.  Wouldn’t you know that one week after I called him to get our doors replaced when the huge spring on one of the doors snapped, he announced his retirement.  Nonetheless, he got everything ordered for us and it showed up this morning.

I spent quite a bit of time shuffling things around in the garage and cleaning up before they came so there would be plenty of room for them to do the installation.  Our garage is so full of junk that this wasn’t easy.  Well, all of it isn’t junk as much of it came from Lynn’s parents’ home after they died, but nonetheless the room can’t really be called a garage because no cars fit in it.

The new doors are lighter than the 50-year old wooden doors they replaced.  According to the advertisement on the Overhead Door website, “Thermacore® insulated steel doors are the ideal choice for premium construction and maximum thermal efficiency. This series of doors feature our sandwich construction of steel-polyurethane-steel as well as between-section seals with thermal breaks to reduce air infiltration.”

All of the old hardware was removed so everything that went in its place is new.  Hopefully this will mean that we won’t have any trouble with the new ones; the old doors were a semi-regular source of headache even before the spring broke.

After the first couple of hours, I am very pleased with our new garage doors.  We also got the keypad for outside access and three remotes for our three vehicles.  The new doors are much smother and quieter than the old ones.  I hope they last 50+ years like their predecessors.  The men who installed the new doors knew what they were doing, ran into no particular obstacles, and did a good job, as far as I can tell.

In the meantime, the Toyota car salesman that we’ve been working with, Richard Harlow, sent Lynn a spec sheet about a Venza that will be arriving at McDonough Toyota before the end of this month.  It appears to be exactly what she wants so this afternoon I went there and left him a deposit.  When it comes, we’ll see if it, indeed, is what she wants and if so we’ll buy it.  Between the garage doors and the car we spent some money today!

Lynn had Physical Therapy for her back today so I dropped her off, went to McDonough Toyota to leave our deposit on the Venza, went to Aldi’s to buy a couple of items, then returned to Synergy Rehab to pick her up after her PT. 

After dinner, we took advantage of the sunny weather with temperatures in the 60’s and took a walk on our normal two mile trail.

Here are my daily COVID-19 statistics:

March 24             Infected                   Died

World             125,202,291           2,752,100

US                     30,691,230              557,905

Virginia                608,704                10,143

Augusta County       5,358                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,226,713  (1,167,307 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        34,928  (15,457 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

March 25, 2021

Lynn had morning work at Turner Ashby High School again so I decided to get in some more seat time on my bike.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to leave the basement to do this since my bike is currently mounted on Jim’s trainer.  I pedaled for an hour while watching CNN.  This may sound like a lot but when we do our May bike hike on the Katy Trail I could be in the saddle for 5 – 6 hours a day.  I know I’m not ready for that yet.  I hope to get a chance for a real bike ride sometime soon.

Lynn and I even discussed taking a trip to Pennsylvania for a few days after Easter.  If we do, we may take our bikes and ride on a rail trail near Altoona.  I found a few possibilities online today.  I guess it will mainly depend on the weather.

It is looking more and more like we’ll be having an Easter egg hunt here on the Saturday before Easter, April 3.  Kay let us know that she and her family will be in Charlottesville that weekend and could come over.  Today I got all of the Easter stuff down from the storage over the garage.

I spent a little time cleaning the garage some more today, too.  When Freddie and Betsy came here after their school, I showed them how to use the new keypad to open either door.  The new doors are SO much safer than the old ones were.  I frequently discouraged the grandchildren from going outside through the garage doors before we got the new ones just because I was afraid of the huge springs breaking.  One did break, and that’s what precipitated getting our new doors.  The new doors have a different kind of spring which appears to be much safer.

After Lynn’s work this morning, she and I made a trip to Harrisonburg with several stops.  First we went to the Rockingham County School Board office to return some testing materials she had.  I helped her carry them in and, while there, I chatted with Kim Garber and Stephanie Failes.  I hadn’t talked with either of them in months; it was good to see them again. 

Other stops for us included Krispy Kreme where we verified that, indeed, you do get a free donut if you show proof of your vaccination!  Then we went to Costco where we bought a new set of pots and pans for the kitchen.  Ours were old and worn.

Tonight, after dinner at home, we went to Smiley’s for dessert.  I never get tired of eating that ice cream!

When we got home, we decided to take advantage of the NFHS network and watch the Fort Defiance – Staunton girls volleyball match.  It was a good one.  FDHS started slowly and got behind quickly.  They came all the way back to 24 – 23 but lost the next point and first game, 25 – 23.  But the second game was a completely different story.  Fort dominated it, 25 – 11.  They continued their roll into the third game, going ahead 7 – 1.  Lynn and I have watched a lot of volleyball over the years and one thing that is certain is that momentum is important.  It seems like when one team grabs the momentum they are invincible.  Tonight there were lots of long and contested points.  Staunton grabbed the momentum back for a while in the third game and came back to 11 – 7 then went on another run to take the lead 13 – 12.   Then the lead switched hands several times.  But the last team to go on a roll was FDHS and they won, 25 – 20.  Staunton looked winded in the fourth game.  Fort jumped out to a 16 – 7 lead.  Staunton made a run after Fort’s lead grew to 20 – 12 but FDHS answered to up the score to 22 – 16.  With the score 22 – 18, FDHS closed the match with the last three points.  It was good volleyball to watch.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 25             Infected                   Died

World             126,033,104           2,766,304

US                     30,769,035              559,611

Virginia                610,263                10,147

Augusta County       5,367                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,282,767  (1,183,917 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,188  (15,496 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

March 26, 2021

Today was an easy but productive Friday.  Lynn had Physical Therapy plus three different short Zoom interpreting sessions today.  I had only one thing on the agenda at Central in the afternoon.

I got in a little exercise today.  First I rode on the bike (on the trainer) for a while.  Then Lynn and I did our two mile walk.  I still need to exercise lots more to get in shape for the May bike trip.

I spent a good bit of time this morning making plans for a trip Lynn and I want to take after Easter.  We decided to combine a trip to see my sister with a trip I had suggested to her at Christmas.  We’re going to leave home on Thursday, April 8 and return on Saturday, April 10.  On this trip, we’ll not only see Mary K. but will also ride our bikes on two trails and visit five ice cream creameries.  I had scoped out all of the creameries in the Pennsylvania-Maryland-Virginia area back in December knowing how much Lynn likes ice cream.  This morning I firmed up the plans which have us driving first to a creamery near Chambersburg PA on the 8th, then on to my sister’s house in Altoona.  We’ll stay at the Comfort Suites not far from her house.  The next day we’ll drive to Frederick, MD, stopping at a creamery near there for lunch.  Then we’ll ride bikes on a trail near town, followed by dinner and dessert at anoter creamery.  On Saturday morning, we’ll first drive to the C & O Canal bike path which is nearby and ride our bikes again.  Then we’ll visit a creamery near there then head home, stopping halfway at our last creamery.  This should be a fine trip!  By the time the day was done, I had confirmed with my sister that the date was OK and made our hotel reservations for the two nights we’ll be away.

This afternoon I did my errands at Central.  First, I did my treasurer’s duty of paying the bills that had accumulated this week.  Then I went to the sanctuary and recorded a reading for this Sunday’s recorded service.  Then I picked up a bunch of food for Elizabeth’s family which we’ll take to her tomorrow morning.  It was a very successful trip to CUMC for me.

This evening we had two friends over for dinner, Cheryl and Bogie Wright.  Actually, we all got hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike and brought them back to our patio to eat.   Today was Cheryl’s birthday so after we ate our burgers we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Smiley’s was busier than I have ever seen the place—there was a line of over twenty people waiting to order.  But the line went fast and soon I was enjoying a cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.  All four of us got the same flavor.  We took our folding chairs and chatted in the parking lot with our cones.

When I got home I decided to watch a little of the Fort Defiance – Wilson Memorial football game on the NFHS network.  I missed most of the first half.  Fort struggled again in this game; the score was 14 – 0 at half.  Soon it was 21 – 0.  Fort’s losses have been 49 – 6 to Riverheads and 35 – 0 to Stuarts Draft the past two weeks.  They also lost 15 – 0  to Rockbridge the first week the played.  So how in the world did they defeat Staunton 39 – 10 the second game of the season?  Their offense is so bad I am amazed they scored 39 points in one game. In tonight’s game, Fort did manage to score late in the 4th quarter to make the final score 21 – 8.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 26             Infected                   Died

World             126,673,096           2,778,770

US                     30,848,263              561,070

Virginia                612,062                10,154

Augusta County       5,373                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,357,008  (1,209,895 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,682  (15,589 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

At least the number of Augusta County residents who have died or are hospitalized hasn’t changed in the last several days. 

March 27, 2021

This was a typical Saturday, especially in the morning.  We took the food from Central to Elizabeth’s family mid-morning.  She was very appreciative, as always.

After that, I loaded up my truck with our trash, picked up the Gutshall’s, then took it all to the dumpster in Mount Sidney.  The weather was nice so this was a pleasant chore.

In the meantime, Lynn had gone to Staunton to see her Aunt Jo Lee who is at The Legacy.  Visitors are now allowed in again so she had her first visit in ages there.  Then she got some groceries and came home. 

After lunch, we decided to take a longer walk than we’ve been taking.  The pleasant weather helped so we did the Leaport Loop.  I looked back through my notes and believe thte last time we did this was July 1, 2020.  Of course, she broke her foot in July so our long walks had ceased.  I felt surprisingly good when we got back home after the 3.7 mile hike.  I expected to be much more tired but I felt fine.

One of the reasons that I thought I’d be tired is that I spent an hour today on my bike (in the trainer) while Lynn was in Staunton.  So my legs have gotten much more of a workout today which they need.  The disappointing thing about riding the bike on the trainer is that the iPhone health app doesn’t pick up the leg movements as steps.  So when I got off the trainer it said I had only 2,000 steps.  When we got back from the Leaport Loop I was well over 10,000 steps.

For dinner tonight, Lynn fixed waffles.  We hadn’t eaten waffles in months, maybe even years.  They were delicious. 

We heard today that Andy got an appointment for his first vaccination shot.  Kay doesn’t have one scheduled yet.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 27             Infected                   Died

World             127,223,738           2,788,068

US                     30,911,667              561,966

Virginia                613,974                10,178

Augusta County       5,379                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,403,097  (1,222,047 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        35,728  (15,610 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Augusta County’s deaths remained at 66 and hospitalizations at 151. 

We’re in the process of planning several trips for later this year.  Some that we are considering are:

  • Driving trip April 8 – 10 as I described yesterday.  This one appears to be definite now.
  • Possible trip to Florida Keys in late May.  We’ll know more when we meet with the AAA travel agent this coming Tuesday.
  • Trip to Maine June 30 – July 3 for Vic and Amy’s wedding.  This one is definite.  This will be a driving trip.
  • Portugal – Spain July 17 – 28.  This one is with Globus Tours.  We’ve paid our deposit and think this one is definite.
  • Oregon perhaps August 31 – September 8.  We’re coordinating this with Hal and Diane whose son lives in Ashland, OR.

March 28, 2021

Today proved to be a busy Sunday for us.  It started out as most do, with a leisurely breakfast then a 9:00 Sunday School class for me. 

Before lunch, Lynn got a text from Diane and Hal Koerner asking us about Oregon travel plans.  They told us that they would like to meet us there but had to work around a race that their son Hallie was involved in on September 11.  The kind of races that Hal Koerner III runs in are ultramarathons, sometimes over 100 miles long. 

After lunch we called them and made some tentative plans for a long Oregon vacation in September.  We’ll likely meet them in Portland on September 1, visit places around there for several days, then they’ll head four hours south to Ashland where their son lives.  We’ll spend the better part of a week sightseeing around Oregon on our way to Ashland and will arrive around September 10 so we can see the race.  We’ll head back to Portland on September 13 and fly home on the 14th.  At least that’s our tentative plans.

The weather was OK today though very windy and rainy at times.  We did manage to find time to take our two mile walk.

We had to get back in time to fix dinner for the Gutshalls.  We (mostly Lynn) fixed a big dinner including a ham, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, hard boiled eggs, asparagus, and a chocolate cake for dessert.  It was a fine dinner.  Ann and Josh took home lots of leftovers which is just what we intended.

I also watched some of the NCAA basketball tournament today but, like yesterday, I wasn’t too invested in it because none of the teams left are favorites of mine.  For the most part, even the ones which were left that I favored lost so this was not a good tournament for my favorites, for sure.

I also worked some math problems with Henry tonight but we mostly did them during basketball games.  His problems aren’t due until Thursday so I guess if he has any questions I have plenty of time to help him.

March 28             Infected                   Died

World             127,762,982           2,795,893

US                     30,962,803              562,526

Virginia                615,366                10,198

Augusta County       5,380                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,505,656  (1,253,021 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        36,999  (16,211 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

The good news is that Augusta County had only one new case in the past 24 hours and no new deaths nor hospitalizations.  The number hospitalized remains at 151, though.

March 29, 2021

We awoke this morning with a concerning text from Jim.  He said that he was at the hospital with a terrible pain in his groin.  He asked if we could come and pick him up.  So quickly, of course, we got up and ate breakfast.  Lynn had several items on her agenda for today and I only had one so I went by myself to Roanoke, leaving around 7:00 AM.

Lynn and I talked over the phone and thought that this must be a kidney stone.  Sure enough, he texted us that, indeed, this was the diagnosis.  He said undergone an ultrasound and was awaiting a CT scan to make sure there was no infection.  If there was no infection, it would be treated with typical drugs.  By the time I got to Roanoke, he had texted that there was no infection but he definitely did have a stone.

I got to the parking lot at Lewis Gale Hospital just as he was coming outside.  He had been given some medicine and several prescriptions were called in.  He told me that Morgan had taken him there at 4:00 AM.  He hadn’t had anything to eat or drink so our first stop was at a Mill Mountain Coffee Shop for him to grab a pastry and some coffee.  I like their coffee so I bought a pound of it, too. 

We then drove to a CVS where his prescriptions had been called in.  He was given three different prescriptions.  We picked them up then headed to his house.  By this time he wasn’t in any pain but I’m sure he was dead tired.  His cross country team had an away meet today so he had already made plans for a half-day substitute and had called her earlier in the morning and changed it to a full day.  He was still bent on going to the meet.

I left Roanoke coming back home shortly after 11:00.  During my trip down there I had made arrangements with Sam Richardson to do Central’s weekly deposit tomorrow instead of today so my calendar was clear.  I got back home near 1:00 just as Lynn left to walk with her friend Ginny Bauman. 

Lynn had Physical Therapy today at 3:30 so I took her then went in to S & W Appliance to pick up a filter for our refrigerator.  Our icemaker had slowed making ice to a crawl so I thought this would be the fix it needed.  We were supposed to replace this filter every six months but we hadn’t done so.  The new filter seemed to fix the problem.

After dinner tonight I hopped on my bike and peddled for an hour.  It was the only exercise I got today but better than nothing.

This evening we called Jim to see how he felt.  He said he was OK and had gone to the cross country meet.  He said he was told it might take a week or two for him to pass the kidney stone.

On the news tonight it was reported that over 93,000,000 Americans, 37% of the population, had gotten at least their first vaccination shot so far.  And, the report said that even one shot provides a person with 80% immunity.  Yet the head of the CDC warned of a 4th wave as people let their guards down.  Supposedly in several states infections and deaths are on the rise again.

Here are today’s statistics:

March 29             Infected                   Died

World             128,202,664           2,803,562

US                     31,028,530              563,183

Virginia                616,509                10,219

Augusta County       5,388                       66

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,590,553  (1,278,643 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        37,259  (16,418 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Today there was a new record set for the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County, 152.

I wrote this post on my downstairs iMac because I left my MacBook Pro with Jim today.  I had taken it with me in case I had spare time waiting on him which I didn’t.  But once he got in the car I realized that he needed it to do his TurboTax return for 2020.  I’ll get it back from him later this week sometime.

March 30, 2021

We had a very good visit today with Mana Welsh, AAA Travel Consultant in Charlottesville.  We found out that we can apply the credit we have for the canceled Puerto Rico trip to our Oregon vacation scheduled in September.  She helped us look at various options involving flights, hotels in Portland, and rental cars.  Of course, our trip to Oregon for two weeks will cost lots more than what we deposited on the Puerto Rico trip but at least we can pay for the flights, hotel stays in Portland, and rental car with these funds.

Tonight we called Hal and Diane and firmed up lots more of the plans for this trip.  We are now going to fly from Reagan to Portland on September 1.  They are going to meet us in Portland that day.  We will stay in Portland for three nights.  On Thursday, September 2 we will go eastward to see Mount Hood, Multanomah Falls, etc.  On Friday, September 3 we will go northward in the Columbia River valley, perhaps all the way to the coast in Astoria.  On Saturday, September 4 we will travel west to see Tillamook and the Pacific Coast.  On Sunday, September 5 we will travel south along the coast and stay there.  On Monday, September 6 we will go sightseeing at the Trail of Ten Falls and stay in Lebanon OR.  On Tuesday, September 7 we will drive to Smith Rock State Park and stay in Bend OR.  On Wednesday, September 8 we will drive to Crater Lake and stay in a cabin there for two nights.  On Friday, September 10 we will meet back up with the Koerners at the location of the ultramarathon they are going to be working at along with their son, Hal III, in Grants Pass.  We’ll stay in Ashland, visiting with Hal and Diane and watching the race for the next two days.  On Monday, September 13 we will return to Portland.  We fly to Reagan Airport on Tuesday, September 14.

Because we were able to use the funds for this trip, we now are going to postpone our plans to visit the Florida keys this year; we’ll do it some other time.  We’re also likely going to postpone our plans to take the Globus tour from Lisbon to Barcelona originally scheduled for July 17 – 28 until 2022.  We’ve got until June 1 to make that decision.  Right now it seems very unlikely that Globus will even be doing this trip.  Indeed, if they postpone it we’ll not lose any of our deposit and will simply transfer this to a 2022 trip.  We’ll be making this decision at the end of May.

Besides all of this thinking and planning about us today, our hearts have been out to our children today.  Jim told us he has been feeling OK but knowing what a bad day he had yesterday we still worry for him and hopes he gets rid of the kidney stone soon.  Ann and her family have been somewhat devastated today, too, as they found out that the house they had wanted and placed an offer on not far from our house was sold to another buyer who made a cash offer for $12,000 more than the asking price.  Ann and Josh were willing to offer more than the asking price, too, but I guess that the house was being sold by a trust company since the owners had both passed away and they had no children.  I know there will be other houses for them to consider but this one was particularly appealing to Ann.  She had her eyes on it long before it hit the market last week.

Today’s real estate market is such a seller’s market.  Houses sell for more than their asking price which is already ridiculously high, in my opinion.  They stay on the market for just a couple of days.  Ann and Josh have spent a year now looking and haven’t been successful yet.  I hope things work out for them in the near future.

I didn’t get any exercise in today.  I did take Betsy and Freddie bike riding at Clymore Elementary and Stewart Middle School this afternoon when their bus got here but I didn’t take my bike because it was on the trainer.  Lynn had a couple of interpreting sessions via Zoom today to occupy her time.  I also spent two hours at Central doing Treasurer’s work.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

March 30             Infected                   Died

World             128,777,244           2,814,831

US                     31,096,479              564,133

Virginia                617,941                10,242

Augusta County       5,391                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,700,610  (1,320,424 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        37,474  (16,478 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

Not only were there two more deaths in Augusta County in the past 24 hours but the number of hospitalizations increased to 152 which is an all-time record.  COVID-19 isn’t going away in this section of the world.

March 31, 2021

Today had several significant events occur for us.  Perhaps the biggest was that Lynn’s new car came in and we picked it up this afternoon.  The Venza is an impressive vehicle.  It has a 12.4 inch screen for navigation and other features.  I actually drove it home from the dealer because she had to run to a Physical Therapy session.  I pushed the “Talk” button and said “Navigate to 296 Leaport Road, Mount Sidney Virginia” and it immediately not only routed me home but talked me through each turn on the way.  It was easy to figure out how to use the cruise control, mirror adjustments, seat adjustments, etc.  The car was expensive but hopefully will last her for a long time. 

The other significant event was getting our Oregon plans cemented.  Our AAA travel agent was johnny-on-the-spot this morning and soon we had our airplane tickets booked, seats selected, hotels booked in Portland for both the first three night when we arrive on September 1 but also the night before we leave on September 13, and our car rental.  We’ll manage the reservations for the other nights along with the Koerners.  In fact, I’ve got most of them done already including two nights at a cabin at Crater Lake.  Best of all, we had over $500 leftover for other travels.

That being the case, I started looking in earnest at our trip to Kennebunkport for Vic and Amy’s wedding the first week of July.  I decided that we should try to make it a nice trip for the Gutshall children (and for the other grandchildren if they come) by planning for the first night at Eden Resort in Lancaster where we’ve always stayed and the kids love and the second night at a hotel in Springfield, Massachusetts near the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.  The AAA agent gave me several hotel choices there that we can use with our leftover credits.  The third day of the trip we’d first visit in the Hall of Fame then drive on to Kennebunkport.

I spent almost the entire morning corresponding with Mana Welsh, the travel agent, plus looking at our options for the New England trip.  It’s nice to know our Oregon trip is set up just the way we wanted it and we’ve got ideas for the Maine trip.  Before we can confirm the Maine trip plans we need to know if Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia will be joining us as well as Jim.  I know Jim’s boys won’t be.

While Lynn was getting her Physical Therapy this afternoon I made a pizza run to Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  Their Soprano pizza is so good!

I made a change tonight in our plans for the get-away we scheduled for next Thursday – Saturday.  Butch said he could be in Altoona on Friday night but I had us there on Thursday.  So I simply reversed the direction that Lynn and I will go on our three day loop and now we’ll be in Altoona on Friday night when Butch is there.

Tonight Pfizer said its vaccine is 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 12 – 16.  That’s good news.

Despite this and other good news regarding vaccines, coronavirus cases are on the rise in half of the states in America.  Apparently there’s way too much lack of social distancing and mask wearing among those who aren’t vaccinated. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

March 31             Infected                   Died

World             129,422,841           2,826,554

US                     31,158,560              565,066

Virginia                618,976                10,252

Augusta County       5,398                       68

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            3,773,586  (1,346,564 residents are fully vaccinated)         

            Augusta County        38,266  (16,957 residents are fully vaccinated including us!)

I’m pleased to find out that Augusta County is even ahead of Rockingham County in the number of vaccinations given.  But the number of hospitalized remains at 152.

February 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

February 1, 2021

With the snowy roads most everything was canceled today—schools, church counting, Lynn’s Zoom interpreting, etc.  Actually our roads look very passable though we haven’t gone out since Saturday.  It has now been over two days since I left our property.

With little to do today I spent some time back on the ancestry pages.  I was able to trace a route from me to Turold De Grenteville.  If you haven’t heard of my relative Turold, it may be because he was born in Normandy in 1026 and died in Dorset, England in 1071.  If the websites I found are accurate, indeed I was able to trace back 32 generations.  I recorded the names, years of life, spouses, years of their lives, and web addresses to the records of each ancestor.  Of course, I’m not really doing the genealogy work but simply using the work of many, many others who have graciously posted their findings in publicly available websites.

My grandmother was Frankie Lee Penland Cook.  She lived until she was 90 though she suffered from delusions and loss of memory in her final years.  At one point before she died, she told my adopted aunt Zella a story that her husband, Joseph Sans Cook, was not the father of my mother.  She told Zella she had become pregnant by another man but ended up marrying Joe Cook.  I never did believe that this was true, especially given that she would tell other wild stories from her imagination during her old age.  She would frequently see other people in the room or hear them talking to her.  Today, in my online legacy work, I saw a reference that she and Joe Cook were married October 27, 1913.  My mother was born August 20, 2014, ten months later.  I was able to find in public records both my mother’s birth certificate and my grandparents’ marriage license so I know these dates are correct.  Thus, the story she told Zella could not have been true.  My initial reason for not believing that story was that my mother and her sister Mary always looked like twins, but today’s research cemented my belief that, indeed, Joseph Sans Cook was my grandfather.  He was a GREAT grandfather who took me (and the other grandchildren) to baseball games, took me to drive-in movies, played baseball with me, took me for rides on his farm tractor, and would pick me up on his way home from working in the mines so I could stay with them in Falls Mills, VA.  It was a very sad day for me when he died when I was 10 years old.

I did get a haircut today without going to a barber shop.  Lynn and I had been borrowing the Gutshall’s hair clipping set but a few months ago we bought our own at Costco so today she put them to good use.  I really do think she does a fine job cutting my hair and don’t know that I’ll ever go back to a barber shop again.

Jim called us today and told how he’d made a bunch of money using a snow blower to clean off driveways in his neighborhood and elsewhere in Roanoke.  Good for him!

In the news tonight was a story about an at-home COVID-19 test anyone can do which returns results in 15 minutes which are 95% accurate.  I hope this is true but I also hope that, thanks to the vaccine, I’ll never need this.

This doesn’t make sense—an ABC news story said that the CDC looked at more than 11,000 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities that had at least one vaccination clinic between the middle of December and the middle of January. The researchers found that while 78% of residents got at least one shot, only 37.5% of staff members did.  The staff members were basically saying they didn’t think the vaccines worked.  What this means is that they will continue to bring in COVID-19 to the most dangerous of climates in the US—nursing homes.  I can’t believe this.  And I wonder why there were 22% of the residents who refused it. 

The messages about the pandemic are mixed.  The President of Moderna said he believed the US could achieve herd immunity by summer.  Yet other people are saying that the worst is yet to come given that the virus is mutating so much and some of the mutations may be resistant to vaccines.  January was the most deadly month since the pandemic started yet the number of hospitalizations and cases have dropped pretty sharply at the end of this month.  But the month had more than 6 million new cases; one in twelve Americans has now had it.

Here are today’s statistics:

February 1          Infected                   Died

World             103,909,445           2,246,841

US                     26,902,109              454,103

Virginia               507,640                  6,474

Augusta County       4,773                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               843,230  (124,407 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,033  (779 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 2, 2021

We had a very busy but productive morning.  Our first stop was at Costco where we got several needed items.  The store was almost empty so I believe it was very safe.  Then we went to Michael’s where Lynn had ordered an item yesterday that we picked up curbside.  She then picked up one quick item at Dollar Tree and we headed to Cub Run Elementary with a stop at the Penn Laird Post Office for her to buy stamps.  The reason for going to Cub Run was for Lynn to pick up her recertification materials which Principal Kenny Boyers had signed off on.  We then took the recertification application to the Rockingham County Schools’ Administrative Office so Lynn could fulfill her obligations in order to be able to continue teaching part-time.  Actually, this recertification is for ten more years; I doubt she will work all ten of them.  Alas, my teacher certification expired in 2020 and I made no attempt to renew it.

Waiting on Lynn and sitting in the parking lot at the RCPS Admin Office brought back some memories for me.  I helped design that building and worked in it for almost fifteen years.  My first several years as an administrator in RCPS were in the old building in downtown Harrisonburg.  But I remember well how we designed that new office, saw it being built, then moved there around 2000.  It was a great place to work, not only for the building itself, but especially because of the people who worked there with me.  My staff increased from about 6 to 26 while working there.

Lynn’s two Cheryl friends came out this afternoon to chat on the back porch.  The temperature was around 32o but there was a wind so the feels-like temperature was around 21o.  They were brave souls.  The heater we bought for the back porch has been spotty in working but today it was really needed.  Lynn said that it worked most of the 90 minutes they were out there.

Today was Gus’ 14th birthday.  Due to the snow, neither Augusta or Rockingham Counties had in-person school today so he was free to come over to our house mid-afternoon to get his present.  I had sent him a set of 16 math problems to do.  The set was quite mixed but required no math beyond Algebra I which he is taking now.  Before he came today, I asked him to text me his solutions so I could check them.  He had done very well with the problem set—had a couple of careless (sign) errors on two problems and one more mistake but he had 13 of the 16 perfect which I was very impressed with.  When he came, I told him that his present was hidden in our garage and he’d find it using a decoder sheet which linked answers to his math problems to letters of the alphabet.  For example, the answer to the first problem was 3 and that corresponded to the letter C on the decoder sheet.  The sixteen answers spelled out CABINET TOP DRAWER.  So in no time he was able to find his card with the money inside it.  He did tell me it took him two hours to do the 16 problems I had sent him but said he didn’t have anything else to do today so that was OK.  For many reasons, including his math skills, I’m proud of Gus.  He’s a very polite, easy-going young man.

Despite school being called off today due to icy roads, the basketball games scheduled for tonight went on as scheduled.  Fort played Stuarts Draft in JV and varsity.  The games were at FDHS so Ann and Josh got to go there to see the games.  Ann confirmed with me that this would be Henry’s last home game so I asked her to take my camera and take some pictures since we weren’t allowed to go.

The news tonight is the same as usual.  At least the daily number of new COVID-19 cases has fallen somewhat.  Here are the statistics:

February 2          Infected                   Died

World             104,337,420           2,261,004

US                     27,007,773              457,264

Virginia               510,380                  6,517

Augusta County       4,792                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               873,468  (130,735 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,208  (824 of whom have 2nd dose)

Elizabeth texted us tonight that her husband Gilbeto finally made it home this evening.  He’d been at the UVA hospital since November 23—around ten weeks.  There was a time Elizabeth was afraid he wouldn’t be coming home alive so it is a real blessing that he made it back today though I’m sure he’s a long way from being back to normal.  It has been a real tough journey for this entire family.  Thankfully they’ve had help from their own family, from their church and community family, and from us. 

The Shenandoah District boys basketball this season has featured six pretty evenly matched teams.  None will win the state championship but on a given night any one could beat the other.  Going into tonight’s game, Fort Defiance was second with a 5 – 3 district record (7 – 3 overall) and Stuart Draft was in sixth place with a 2 – 6 district record (3 – 7 overall).  Wilson Memorial is the district leader with a 6 – 2 record (9 – 2 overall).  It has been amazing that they’ve been able to play a full schedule with the pandemic going on.   Well, a full schedule this year means 13 regular season games since all of the sports seasons were shortened.

The JV team played first, of course.  Though it is great to be able to live-stream the games, it seems so strange to see the stands nearly empty.  I think each home player is allowed two from his family to attend. 

Watching the JV’s is not easy.  Stuarts Draft turned the ball over its first nine possessions.  Fort missed its first ten shots from the field. Fort did manage two foul shots and a field goal and led 4 – 2 after five minutes of play.  Gus got in with two minutes to go in the quarter.  Stuarts Draft finished the quarter with a plethora of turnovers.  The score at the end of the first was FDHS 10, Stuarts Draft 2.  As the second quarter opened, Gus got an offensive rebound and put it back in.  As a reward, I suppose, the coach took him out.  Go figure.  When Gus went out, the score was 12 – 2 in Fort’s favor.  Moments later it was 13 – 12.  The half ended 19 – 18 in favor of Stuarts Draft.   This is how the Fort JV’s have played all season.  On January 15, against this same team, Gus’ JV team was ahead by double digits with four minutes to go in the game when he was taken out; Stuarts Draft scored the next 14 points and won. 

In the second half, Gus sat out the first half of the third quarter and got in with Stuarts Draft leading 24 – 23.  He made a nice put back but the refs ruled he had fouled first so it didn’t count.  He played the rest of the quarter; FDHS was down 30 – 29.  But then the streaming network went out and we missed the entire 4th quarter.  Ann and Josh reported that he played the entire 4th quarter and did well as Fort got revenge with a 44 – 32 win.  She Facetime called us so we could see a little bit though it wasn’t the same as streaming.  This turned out to be a good birthday for Gus!  I’m glad the coach finally figured out to leave him in.

Unfortunately, the streaming didn’t work for the varsity game.  I was so disappointed because it was Henry’s last home game this season.  Ann and Josh tried to help us out, first via Facetime then via Zoom.  The Zoom feed was OK but not as good as the streaming had been.  In the first half, Stuarts Draft couldn’t miss, hitting all kinds of three pointers.  Fort was lucky to stay fairly close, 41 – 33, at the break. 

They got down by twelve but managed to close within four at the end of the third quarter.  As the 4th quarter wore on, Tyreek Veney got hot and Ryan Cook made some good drives.  Soon Fort was up 59 – 58.  With 1:15 to go, Fort led 63 – 60 but then Draft hit a 3 pointer to tie the score at 63.  Fort worked the ball into Henry who scored on a drive with 1.5 seconds to go to give FDHS the win, 65 – 63.  It was a huge bucket!  Henry the Hero!  I love it. 

Thanks to Ann’s Zoom feed, Kay’s family, Jim, Josh’s parents, Lynn, and I got to witness the game.  I’m so glad she was able to do that.  The NFHS feed never did come back so without the Zoom connection we wouldn’t have seen Henry’s heroics.  I believe he had six points for the game including the big basket at the end.

February 3, 2021

The Waynesboro paper had another fine article about the game last night with high praise for sophomores Tyreek and Henry.  “With the clock ticking down in a tight contest and a court full of upperclassmen, it was two sophomores who provided the heroics for Fort Defiance.   Indians’ second-year player Tyreek Veney nailed six 3-pointers, and Henry Gutshall lifted up to bank in the contested game-winning shot with 7.8 seconds left to give Fort a 65-63 win over Stuarts Draft in a game they once trailed by 13 points in Shenandoah District boys basketball.  Sophomore Gutshall has stepped up for Fort all year, and with 7.8 seconds left on the clock, he stepped up again. Gutshall caught the ball and turned around in the face of the defender, putting up a hook shot that found its way off the glass through the bottom of the net to give Fort the 65-63 lead they would not relinquish.”

I had a another pleasant surprise today—the live stream didn’t work but the game was available on demand today from NFHS.  I got to watch Henry score that game-winning basket over and over!  Plus I got to see the 4th quarter of Gus’ JV game, a quarter in which he played the whole time.  Neat..

Since this is the first week of February, I had lots of work to do on Central’s books today.  I was able to get almost everything done but it took me nearly four hours in the morning.  I reconciled the four bank accounts, finalized the two monthly statements for January that are always presented to Church Council, entered the January 31 deposit, and paid several bills.  I got one of the credit card statements reconciled and will do the other one later since Won needs to give me some receipts for them.  It won’t take long.  I felt good about getting so much done.

Lynn braved the cold again to walk with Ginny Bauman.  She put on her long underwear first and wore boots.  I don’t know how she walked two miles in boots.  I recall that when I was a high school basketball player we were required to wear galoshes to run laps after practice sometimes.  It wasn’t easy.  We also had to wear ankle weights all day sometimes in the off-season, supposedly to build up our leg muscles so we could run and jump better.  Obviously this tactic didn’t work for me because running and jumping were two of my worst athletic attributes.

I also got a call today from Steve Johnson of Air Tight Windows and Doors.  He had sent a proposal to us on August 31 which we accepted and paid him a deposit for our upstairs windows to be replaced.  Then we waited and waited.  I e-mailed him in October and he said they were having troubles getting materials.  He asked that we be patient and we were.  Finally he called this morning to say the materials had arrived and he wanted to start replacing our windows tomorrow morning!  I told him to go for it.

Gus had a make-up JV basketball game tonight with Wilson Memorial.  The first half had the same troubles with the streaming service that the varsity game last night had.  It didn’t start working until the end of the half.  Ann helped us out by Zooming from her camera which worked OK but was a lot of trouble for her.  The second half the NFHS stream worked OK.  Gus played almost the entire first half.  I believe he had one point on a foul shot.  At the half, Fort led 19 – 16.  Gus was on the bench to start the second half.  Any bets on what happened?  After four minutes the score was WMHS 22, FDHS 19.  It’s not that Gus is a dominant player, he just doesn’t make the stupid mistakes that the other kids do.  They throw the ball away over and over and over.  He got back in with 3:30 to go in the quarter.  He made a nice spin move and scored with 30 seconds to go—their only score of the quarter.  And though he played throughout the 4th quarter, his team couldn’t score.   Meanwhile, WMHS had several buckets.  With 51 seconds to go in the game Fort finally scored in the 4th quarter—two foul shots.   They made one more free throw and banked a desperation three pointer in to make the final score WMHS 36, FDHS 27.  For the second half, they had a grand total of two field goals, eight points.   Maybe we’ll be able to watch the first half again tomorrow on the NFHS stream.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 3          Infected                   Died

World             104,866,768           2,276,010

US                     27,140,569              461,504

Virginia               513,339                  6,575

Augusta County       4,807                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               895,005  (136,731 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,297  (841 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 15 can’t get here quickly enough!  Some good news we got today is that Ann was able to get her vaccine today at Broadway High School.  She wasn’t originally supposed to get hers today but apparently they had some extras while doing the immunizations there today.  Great!

February 4, 2021

Our morning was interesting as the father-son team from Airtight Windows and Doors arrived shortly after our breakfast to replace our upstairs windows.  With the big snowfall we had last week, this presented some challenges to them as part of the roof still had snow on it.  The side which faces east did not so they began on those windows.  I was surprised at how quickly they were able to extract the old ones and insert the new ones.  The new ones look nice and function much better than the 50+ year old ones they replaced.  Due to the snowy roof, they were only able to get three windows.  They are going to come back next week and do the other four.

Today’s weather was a little better—good enough for Lynn to walk twice.  She walked once with Ginny Bauman then walked with me before dinner.  She got in 11,000 steps today.  I did not but still got to walk two miles.

I had plenty of spare time this afternoon so I decided to turn the genealogy work I had done into web pages and post them on my website.  I ended up putting three routes on my website, all with links to each generation.  The lineage routes were 1) the Hill ancestry back to 1589   2) the ancestral path for 32 generations through the Hill, Dixon, McMillan, Gambrill, Nall, Holloway, Mathews, Greville, Glanville, and Greneteville families all the way back to the year 1026 in France and England.  Included in this path is the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1656 – 1660, Samuel Mathews and 3) an ancestral path through the Hill, Cook, and Goodson families back to 1550 in England.

Tonight Gus had a JV basketball game at Buffalo Gap which we were able to watch on the NFS network.  We watched in our bedroom while the Gutshalls watched downstairs.  The poor JV’s picked up where they left off last night, unable to score in the first four minutes.  Fortunately, Gap was little better and only led 2 – 0 at that point which is when Gus got in.  He played the rest of the quarter but didn’t see action in the second quarter.  Both teams played miserably with Fort squeaking out a 10 – 9 lead at the half.  I didn’t really keep records but I’m betting the shooting percentage for both teams was somewhere around 10%.

Gus got in the last three minutes of the 3rd quarter.  After shooting terribly all game, Gap hit three consecutive three-pointers to take a 25 – 19 lead at the end of the quarter.  Gus got to play a little in the 4th quarter but it was more of the same.   After Gap went out to a ten point lead in the 4th, Fort made a run and got within three but in the end Gap hit their free throws and won 41 – 34.  Tomorrow the JVs will have their fourth game in four days.  Both play Wilson Memorial    away.  Going into that game, the Fort varsity team is in a three way tie for first place in the district.  Fort, Wilson Memorial, and Staunton all have 6 – 3 records.  So the winner of the Fort – Wilson game will be the district champion if Buffalo Gap beats Staunton, also played tomorrow night.  If Staunton beats Buffalo Gap, they will be co-champions with the winner of the Fort-Wilson game.

Today Johnson and Johnson requested Emergency Use Authorization for its vaccine.  It doesn’t have as high of rating for initially keeping people from being infected with COVID-19, around 70% compared to Pfizer and Moderna’s 95%, but it had a 100% rating of keeping people from being hospitalized or dying after taking it.  So this adds more hope; the key is to get more and more people vaccinated so the spread will stop; thus, the mutations will stop.

Here are today’s statistics: 

February 4          Infected                   Died

World             105,380,028           2,292,100

US                     27,258,651              466,504

Virginia               516,398                  6,650

Augusta County       4,813                       49

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               920,641  (145,284 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        6,767  (974 of whom have 2nd dose)

February 5, 2021

I did more work on my website this morning, adding a link to a detailed genealogy of Lynn’s family which one of her cousins had done.  I think I have an abnormally high sense of providing a legacy for future generations, perhaps because I enjoy my own ancestry so much.  Thus, I loved writing the StoryWorth book from Ann’s 2017 Christmas present and have really liked documenting my life in 50,000+ pictures on Flickr, both of which are available on the website.  Adding the ancestry to it just makes sense, especially since the name of the website is joehillfamily.com.  This blog isn’t written for posterity, though; it is mainly therapy for me to survive in these pandemic times.

Lynn and I have had good discussion lately about our similarity and differences.  Like any couple, there are times that I wish she thought more like I do but then I realize how much my life has been enriched by her thoughts which are so unlike mine.  I told her last night that if I had never met her, I would probably never have gone to Machu Picchu and she would likely not have had a tennis court in her backyard which has proven to be such a nice playground for our grandchildren.  Without her, my children wouldn’t have grown up in the beautiful and safe Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I joked that I would have missed some of the junk TV shows that she watches in the middle of the night such as Young Sheldon and Big Bang Theory.  Lynn and I strongly agree on some very important matters such as the importance of family and good fiscal management.  We have a good division of duties around the house, I believe.  I wish I were as thoughtful of others as she is.  I admire her ability to socialize with others and marvel at her memory of other people’s names, families, and events.  If the definition of an angel is a superb being sent by God to lead someone in the right direction, she certainly qualifies for that title.

I’m a nostalgic person; Lynn is not.  I am part of a group on Facebook called All of Us West Virginians which now has almost 200,000 members.  Members of that group post daily pictures of the beauty of the Mountain State.  Many members also post nostalgic pictures which leads me to believe I’m not the only one with this propensity.  Maybe it’s something that West Virginians have in their blood.

This afternoon was productive for me.  Lynn had placed an online order at Walmart in Staunton.  Since it wasn’t groceries, they wouldn’t bring them to curbside but they did have a kiosk set up inside the store for pickup orders.  It worked very well.  She had forwarded to me the QR code from her order.  All I had to do was pull that up on my phone, scan it at the kiosk, then one of the 8-10 lockers beside me popped open and there was her order!  I didn’t have to talk to anyone and was in the store less than two minutes.  From there I went to Kroger to pick up two prescriptions I had called in.  I was able to get them via the drive-in window so again it was safe.  Then I went to Central and did some bookkeeping I needed to do.  I got it all done in about an hour, made one stop on the way home to drop off some jellybeans Lynn’s sister Kay had us buy when we were at Costo earlier this week, then I came home in plenty of time to get our usual Friday hamburgers from Old School food truck.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 5          Infected                   Died

World             105,864,287           2,306,802

US                     27,358,493              470,244

Virginia               521,467                  6,732

Augusta County       4,856                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               963,953  (157,507 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,138  (1,122 of whom have 2nd dose)

Tonight was the last regular season game for Fort Defiance boys basketball.  We’ve really enjoyed watching these 12 games.  And, to be honest, FDHS has exceeded our expectations this season.  Going into tonight’s game, they were 8-3 overall and 6 – 3 in the district.  As I stated in last night’s post, they needed to beat Wilson Memorial to grab at least a share of the district title.  Going into the season, I was aware that 6 of the 11 boys on the team were seniors, three of whom started last year so I didn’t think that Henry would play regularly though I hoped he would see action from time to time.  But throughout the season, as I’ve written about many times in this blog, he had established himself as a very important part of the team.  I haven’t kept season records for everyone on the team, but I believe he was the third leading scorer for the year.  In two of the games he made the crucial winning shots in the last minute.  In addition, for the last several games, Fort had three sophomores in the starting lineup:  Henry, Tyreek Veney, and Kaden Johnson. 

First, as always, was Gus’ JV game.  Both games were away so Lynn and I watched them on my iPad while Ann’s family was in the basement using the TV with AirPlay.  A pleasant surprise was that Gus was on the starting five.  This is his first time all season.  That’s great as an 8th grader since there are plenty of 9th and 10th graders on the team.  Gus played the entire quarter, got lots of rebounds, and hit a nice 10 foot jumper as Fort led 10 – 9 at the end of the quarter.  This was a team which blew them away the first time they played.  Even though this was their fourth game in four days, it was the best quarter I’ve seen them play all season.

He sat out the entire 2nd quarter.  No surprise, it was not a good one for Fort.  The halftime score was 23 – 16 in favor of Wilson Memorial.  He did return to the floor as the second half began but only for three minutes.  The quarter was, unfortunately, more typical of what has happened all season.  Their turnovers and missed shots continued while Wilson poured it on.  The score at the end of the third was 38 – 23.  Gus didn’t play again and they could have used him.  I’m sorry for the way this game ended especially with such a good beginning.  Despite Wilson subbing throughout the quarter, Fort still could get no closer.  The final score was 51 – 37. 

Sure enough, Henry, Tyreek, and Kaden started in this important game.  Henry picked up two fouls in the first quarter and had to come out.  He hadn’t scored but had a bunch of rebounds.  The score when he came out was 7 – 7.  Fort scored the next five and had a 12 – 7 lead as time expired but Landon Simmons hit a miracle half court throw at the buzzer to give FDHS a 15 – 8 lead.  Henry came back in with 6:39 and Fort ahead 18 – 9.  Henry scored but then picked up a third foul call on a play in which he didn’t touch the player so he had to come back out.  All of the Fort boys seem to contribute and FDHS built up a nice 30 – 17 lead and closed out the half leading 33 – 21.  It was fun to see so many different kids contributing.  Kaden Johnson hit two nice three pointers in the second quarter.

I rarely agree with referees’ calls that go against my team but tonight the whistles were especially bad for Henry.  He may have had one foul in the first half but he was called for three.  I hope the referees take the time to watch the replay of this game on NFHS and see what bad calls they made.  With Henry on the bench to start the second half, Wilson scored the first four points before Ryan made a 3 point play.  With 4:33 to go in the third, Tyreek hit a three pointer after Wilson had scored to make the score 39 – 29. At this point, Henry came back in.  Fort made a run in the last minute after Wilson had mounted a comeback to take the lead 50 – 37 going into the 4th quarter.  With 5:09 to go Fort still clung to a 55 – 43 lead.  Henry got the two to give them 55.  Then Henry drove and made a great reverse layup to run the score to 57 – 48.  With 2:35 Tyreek buried two free throws to make it 59 – 48.  Fort’s lead was 59 – 50 with 1:42 to go.  With 1:20 to go Henry was fouled but missed the front end of a one and one but Fort held them without scoring and Ryan was fouled this time.  Ryan also missed the front end of a one and one.  Wilson fouled Henry with 31 seconds to go.  He zipped both to make the score 63 – 51 and seal the win.  The final was 65 – 53.  It was a great team win. 

Best of all, we learned that Staunton had lost to Buffalo Gap which makes Fort the District Champions!  On our Family chat session which we maintain throughout the game, my comment was “In December, if anyone would have told me that Fort would be District Champions, Henry would start and be a key player on a team with five seniors and three starters returning, and the season would be played uninterrupted despite COVID-19 I might have doubted that.  Just saying.”

February 6, 2021

According to Henry, the banners inside the FDHS gym indicate that the last time Fort won a district championship in basketball was 1996.  That makes 25 years!  This is really something to celebrate.  There was a really nice video on WSHV Channel 3 Sports last night about the game including the reverse layup that Henry made in the 4th quarter.  And the Waynesboro newspaper not only had a good article about the game but the cover photo shows Henry taking a charge from a Wilson player.  He got good press!  He deserves it.

This morning was a busy morning for us with lots of errands to run.  We started at Central where we got a big box of food for the Aquirre family plus some treats for Juan Pablo.  Then we stopped at Aldi’s grocery store so Lynn could buy a few items.  After that, we stopped at the post office in Fishersville for her to mail a gift to our friends Hal and Diane in Arizona.  We then went to Waynesboro where Lynn gave Juan Pablo his treats then we went to Kohl’s where she returned an item to Amazon.  Finally, we drove to the Aquirre’s home in Natural Chimneys to drop off the food box.  We got everything done we had planned.

After lunch, I did my usual Saturday trash run before making it back in time to watch the WVU – Kansas basketball game.  WVU’s history against Kansas basketball is not good so I didn’t come into the game with high expectations despite the fact that WVU was ranked 17th and Kansas 23rd currently this season.  WVU hopped out to a 9-2 lead and maintained a lead the entire first half.  The score was 44 – 34 at the break.  But within two minutes into the second half the lead had evaporated and the score was 47 all.  It was a terrible 2nd half start for WVU and a great one for Kansas.  But the Mounties rebounded, shot well, and won a rare game against the Jayhawks.  The final score was WVU 91, Kansas 79.  A great win for WVU!

Tonight we had soup from Central UMC for dinner.  We weren’t crazy about it so we loaded up and went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  As always, it was delicious.

Most everyone we know who is in the 65 and over category and wants a vaccine has been able to get it, thankfully.  But that isn’t true everywhere.  We talked to my sister today who has not been able to secure an appointment in Altoona PA despite the fact that she is 75 years old.  I wish she were here because we’ve had multiple opportunities to get ourselves and our acquaintenances inoculated.

The number of COVID-19 cases have definitely dropped off, nationwide.  I’m not sure that Virginia or Augusta County has seen much of a slowdown, though.  Here are today’s stats:

February 6          Infected                   Died

World             106,308,059           2,318,294

US                     27,510,198              473,214

Virginia               526,176                  6,773

Augusta County       4,880                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,022,150  (178,708 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,349  (1,169 of whom have 2nd dose)

It is great to see that a million Virginians have received at least their first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.  There are 8.5 million Virginians so this is about 12%.

We’re supposed to get another snowstorm tonight.  But tomorrow’s temperatures are supposed to be in the 40’s and the snow is to have stopped by noon so perhaps this one won’t be a show-stopper. 

February 7, 2021

The snow came down in bunches this morning, leaving around 6 inches on our ground despite the temperature being above freezing.  It was a very pretty snow since the wind wasn’t blowing at all which meant the trees were quite pretty.  It took me over an hour to do all of my shoveling of the sidewalks, between the cars, back porch, around the mailbox, and other places that wonderful neighbor Bee Myers didn’t get with his snowplow as he made two passes through our driveway.

One issue the last two snowfalls has caused is that our satellite dish has gotten covered with snow; thus, DISH network doesn’t work.  When this happened a week ago, I used duct tape to combine an old broom with another pole to make a 10 foot long device for removing the snow from the dish.  It worked then and it worked again this morning.

I’ve been thinking about some friends of mine that I haven’t communicated with in nearly a year.  This time last year, I texted some subset of this group almost every week.  They are my tennis friends and they include Rob Cale, John Gorra, Pat Peason, Marc Kinder, Lewis Moore, Lloyd Meadows, Bob Stripling, Jonathan Mason, Jack Ballurio, Todd Carr, and Paul Lightner.  I haven’t seen nor heard from any of these guys since last March.  There are a couple of other tennis players I have crossed paths with such as Darrell Miller and Won Un.  It’s like the pandemic cut the lines of communication among us.  Maybe after my second vaccination I’ll try to find out if any of them are playing again.

Lynn had an idea yesterday for a project—to make mugs for each of the FDHS basketball players and coaches with the words “Shenandoah District Champions 2020-2021” on them.  Her Cricut machine can create the letters but it takes a long time to get them placed on the mugs.  Ann bought mugs last night and Lynn spent all day today working on this project.  Both her craft skills and work ethic were on display today as she churned the mugs out one by one.  She bought chocolates to put inside the mugs and plans to give them to the players and coaches tomorrow. 

Though the day started out with six inches of snow, by mid-afternoon the roads were not only clear of snow, they were mostly dry.  The benefit of plowing them early paid off as the sun bore down.  The same was true of my sidewalk, porch, and driveway.  They were all clean and dry by 3:00 pm.  The yard still had plenty of snow.  So did our roof which I had hoped would not be the case since one day this coming week the men from Airtight Windows and Doors are returning to install the four remaining upstairs windows at our house.  They might not be able to do it on Monday but surely by Tuesday the roof will be clear as the forecast is for temperatures well above freezing for the next few days.

My only job for the afternoon was to go to Kroger to pickup a curbside order we had placed yesterday.  There were a few items on the order we wanted for dinner and we had correctly figured out that by mid-afternoon the roads would be fine when we placed the order yesterday.

Today was Super Bowl Sunday.  Before COVID-19, we always had a dinner with Ann’s family with lots of finger foods.  Since we couldn’t do that this year, we made some Pigs in a Blanket using the miniature hot dogs and crescent rolls then took them to their house.  The kids love them.

Rather than watch the Super Bowl from start to finish, we made a quick run to Harrisonburg around kickoff time.  Lynn needed two more mugs to complete her craft project for the FDHS basketball team plus some bags to put the gifts in.  We got back near the end of the first quarter.  She really worked hard on this project today and her back was sore from sitting in the hard kitchen chairs for so long.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 7          Infected                   Died

World             106,673,989           2,326,773

US                     27,609,213              474,933

Virginia               529,125                  6,778

Augusta County       4,897                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,072,748  (195,970 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,658  (1,338 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of new infections in the US is under 100,000 for the first time in a long time.  Augusta County currently has 123 hospitalizations which is a lot.

February 8, 2021

I think I made a mistake yesterday.  I was talking to Lynn on the phone on my way home from the Kroger pickup and asked how her mugs were coming along.  She said they were almost done.  I suggested to her that she could add “FDHS” to the side of each mug and she shrugged at that suggestion.  In fact, she thought I was being critical of her work and that was certainly not the case.  Later she apologized for snapping at my suggestion and I thought the issue was over.   Well, at 2:00 AM she was awake and I asked why.  She said she thought her mugs were unfinished because they didn’t have the FDHS on them.  So out of the bed she popped and worked until 3:30 AM when all seventeen cups had the school’s initials on the side opposite the side she put the basketball on.  The mugs really look good.  This morning she added three coats of Mod Podge to each cup which makes them dishwasher safe.  Also this morning we printed a note to put inside each of them along with a label for each mug with each player’s name and jersey number.  She made mugs for the manager, three coaches, athletic director, and principal, too.  Then she filled all the mugs with candy, wrapped them, and added the label for each.  They really looked great.  She didn’t seem to mind working so hard on this project.  After all, FDHS hasn’t been district champions in boys basketball for 25 years!  Josh picked them up tonight on his way to the game so were delivered to everyone.

Today I made two trips to Central.  The first was in the morning because I had promised the new duo who are counting that I would be around if they had any questions.  It’s a good thing because they had several.  While I was there I got several tasks done including setting up the February 15 payroll, paying the monthly federal taxes, paying three bills, and making the deposit after they counted it.  My second trip was after lunch to help unload the delivery truck from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  The order that was placed for this week was the largest one ever—there were six pallets completely loaded with food.  This will supply our Food Pantry for the rest of this week and for next since February 15 is a holiday (President’s Day).  The amount of food that the Food Bank distributes to Pantries such as ours is really amazing.  At no cost to us or to the recipients, we got over 2,000 pounds of meat, milk, potatoes, milk, beans, canned vegetables, etc.  This order had a lot of frozen meat on it.

We’ve had two snowfalls in the last two weeks and more is forecast.  The forecast for Thursday night is for us to get 2 – 5 inches more snow.  Airtight Windows and Doors is going to try to get our windows finished tomorrow since the weather forecast is nice for then.  Tomorrow we’re supposed to have temperatures in the 50’s. 

It’s been nice to not write anything about Donald Trump for days.  His impeachment case starts tomorrow in the Senate.  How can he not be held accountable for inciting the riot?  He lied about the election results and called for fighting.  He should be found guilty.

In the news today, the COVID-19 UK variant’s cases are doubling every ten days in the US and may soon be the dominant strain of COVID-19.  Biden says there will be more than 300 million vaccines delivered by the end of the summer.  I hope so!  The Johnson and Johnson vaccine should be approved for Emergency Use Authorization before the end of this month.  They have promised 100 million doses by June once it has been approved.  Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 8          Infected                   Died

World             106,962,985           2,334,923

US                     27,686,809              476,284

Virginia                530,825                  6,820

Augusta County       4,931                       50

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,105,102  (206,942 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        7,705  (1,352 of whom have 2nd dose)

Virginia proudly announces on the Department of Health website that over 10% of its residents now have at least one shot of the vaccine.  This time next week Lynn and I will have both of ours!  Augusta County still has a high number of hospitalizations—up to 124 now. 

Tonight Henry’s Fort Defiance basketball team had a regional quarterfinal game against Fluvanna County.  The game was a home game so Josh and Ann were able to attend while Lynn and I watched from our house.  Personally, my thoughts were that this season has already exceeded my expectations so I knew I wouldn’t be upset if Fort came out on the losing end of the game.

Fort went with its three sophomore lineup to start:  Henry Gutshall, Tyreek Veney, and Kaden Johnson plus junior Josh Jones and senior Ryan Cook.  It didn’t take Fluvanna long to score with a three pointer than two follow up two pointers.  Meanwhile, Tyreek missed his first five shots and Ryan missed one.  Then Fluvanna hit another three pointer to lead 10 – 0.  Tyreek finally got a three ponter to go then Kaden hit one to make the score 10 – 6.   A Ryan drive closed the score to 10 – 8.  Unfortunately, Fluvanna answered with an eight point run to make it 18 – 8.  During this stretch, they got almost every rebound and Henry picked up two fouls and had to come out.  Ryan and Tyreek were cold as ice; meanwhile Fluvanna shot and rebounded until they made it to go up 25 – 8.  A three pointer near the end of the quarter made it 25 – 11 at the end of the first.  There were no calls for over the back despite the fact that Fluvanna routinely did so.

In the second quarter, Henry returned to the court.   Fort went on a nine point run to make the score 25 – 20 with 4:18 to go in the half.  Tyreek got hot and soon FDHS was within three before Fluvanna answered.  FDHS did make it respectable by halftime, 30 – 26.  From 17 down in the first quarter to only 4 down at half was a great comeback. 

To start the second half, Henry was back on the court but he quickly bumped a kid and got his third foul.  Poor Henry!  His fouls were totally inconsequential and should never have been called.  Fluvanna hit two consecutive three pointers to push the lead to ten before Ryan scored on a two straight drives.  Then Fluvanna hit another three pointer and the score was 39 – 30 with 4:39 to go in the 3rd.   A three point play by Fluvanna pushed the score to 42 – 30.  Fluvanna’s lead grew to 44 – 30 with 2:54 to go in the quarter.  At that point, Henry came back in.  Fluvanna pulled back to a 16 point lead, 48 – 32 before Henry was fouled trying to make a put-back.  He hit one of two.  The score was 48 – 33 at the end of the third. 

To start the fourth quarter, Henry sat out. Meanwhile, Fort could do nothing right as Fluvanna went on a 15 – 2 run to widen its lead to 63 – 35.  Henry didn’t play a second in the quarter; the coach substituted his seniors the last few minutes.  It was a good season for the Indians but not a good game to finish on.  The final score was 65 – 41. 

February 9, 2021

Weather-wise, today was the best day we’ve had in a while with temperatures making it to the 50’s by mid-afternoon.  Since the weather was good today but the forecast for Thursday is for more snow, the Airtight Windows and Doors men came to get the rest of the upstairs windows in.  Actually, it was “man” instead of “men” since only the son of the father-son team came.  The father, Steve Johnson, broke a finger yesterday.  Unfortunately, when the morning started the roof still had plenty of snow on it which prevented them from getting an early start on the front windows and especially the small one in Kay’s room. 

Corey Johnson, Steve’s son, worked all day and got our windows finished.  All seven of them look much better and certainly function better now.  These windows can be tilted in for cleaning and even have a night latch where you can open them a certain distance and lock it so they can’t be opened any more.  I told Corey that we would like to accept the proposal to replace our downstairs windows as well but he said he would need to get a new quote from his father.  Plus, they’re backed up a lot now but that suits us fine.  Whenever they can get them replaced will do.

I stayed home all day because of the work being done to the windows.  Lynn had to go to the Rockingham County Schools Administrative Office to pick up an iPad because she is going to be testing a student tomorrow at Ottobine Elementary School.  She’s actually scheduled to test students at Ottobine on Wednesday, Fulks Run Elementary on Thursday, and back at Ottobine on Friday.  However, the forecast calls for several more inches of snow on Wednesday night so I don’t know how much more testing she’ll be doing after tomorrow.

Because the weather was so good today, I grilled steaks for us for dinner plus I made baked potatoes.  Lynn cooked some mushrooms so we had a real feast for dinner.  After dinner, we had some running around to do-she had to pick up something she had ordered from a Cub Run Elementary School teacher whom we met at the Staunton Mall plus she wanted to buy some items from Old Navy in Waynesboro.  After that, I didn’t have much trouble convincing her that we should go to Smiley’s for dessert especially since the flavor of the week this week is her favorite, Death by Chocolate.

I spent a good deal of time today working on a project which I won’t elaborate about yet but which is for a family member.  It is something that I may take to Staples to get printed and bound.  I’ll tell more about this project at a later date.

The news today was dominated by the first day of Trump’s 2nd impeachment hearings in the Senate.  The Democrats played a 13 minute video to start their case that made you cringe just to watch.  He is as guilty as he can be but it is doubtful that 2/3rds of the Senate will vote to convict him.  As one of the Democratic speakers said, if what he did isn’t impeachable then what is?

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 9          Infected                   Died

World             107,376,511           2,348,684

US                     27,790,347              479,390

Virginia                534,116                  6,898

Augusta County       4,962                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,130,763  (217,605 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,049  (1,558 of whom have 2nd dose)

Though the US statistics are improving, I am still concerned about the local situation.  Augusta County’s number of hospitalizations continue to rise—up to 130 now.  And the percentage of those infected who have died is now well above 1%.  Looking back, in June only 8 people were hospitalized in Augusta County and in August this had only risen to 17.  By November this number was in the 40’s and was at 76 at the end of 2020.  That number has skyrocketed since then.

February 10, 2021

Lynn left very early today to get to Ottobine Elementary School to test a student.  She had to give the student four different tests so it took all morning.  In the meantime, I got lots of small tasks done around the house plus I made a trash run at Ann and Josh’s request. 

We were both dragging a little today because we were up late last night watching a great WVU – Texas Tech basketball game.  We went to bed early then noticed that the game came on at 9:00 so we watched it.  It was a great win for the Mountaineers who came into the game ranked #14 and Texas Tech was ranked #7.  Plus, the game was an away game in Lubbock, Texas.

I did some more work on my new project today and pretty much got it ready.  I’m likely going to have it printed at Staples and am trying to decide between sending it off to Staples which would then be mailed back here or dropping it off at our local Staples.  I really don’t want to go inside Staples (or other stores) until I’ve had that second vaccine.

I told Lynn tonight that my taste buds were still working fine as we had another good supper so I’m fairly certain I don’t have COVID-19 yet.  She said her sister Kay’s taste buds are still not back to normal though she got the virus around a month or more ago.

The forecast for tonight was originally for several inches of snow tonight but now it seems like we’ll just get a little sleet and snow.  It may be enough to cause Lynn’s scheduled testing at Fulks Run to be postponed.  I don’t have anything scheduled for tomorrow so my day will likely not change regardless of the snowfall.  Thursday night will probably bring us more snow but that forecast has changed some as well.  It seems that the meteorologists are having trouble pinning down our forecast for the next several days.  The latest is that we’ll get 2”– 5” of snow by the time this all ends on Friday.

I watched more of the impeachment trial today.  The Democrats continue to make their case that Trump prodded and incited those who rioted on January 6 with months of lies, not just his speech that day.  They showed many videos today of the January 6 insurrection.  It must have been really scary for those in the Capitol building that day.

Today Lynn got a call from her brother that he had a check for her share of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger’s estate.  So we went into Staunton to pick it up then drove back to Bridgewater to deposit it.  Lynn has opted to divide it among our children and do it now instead of later.  We have all the money we should ever need (I hope!) whereas each of them can use some extra money now.  Her parents’ estate wasn’t a huge one because the expenses to house Mrs. Hanger at The Legacy for years were great.  But at least her parents were able to support themselves throughout their lives, including the health issues they had in their last years of life, and still ended up with some money for their children.  We can all aspire to be able to do that.

On our way back from the Bridgewater bank we stopped to pick up two quarts of Lynn’s favorite ice cream, Death by Chocolate.  She has plenty of her favorite ice cream now in our freezers.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 10        Infected                   Died

World             107,806,179           2,362,412

US                     27,885,171              482,595

Virginia                537,319                  6,932

Augusta County       4,980                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,156,117  (229,345 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,332  (1,656 of whom have 2nd dose)

Augusta County’s hospitalized increased to 131.  The number of new cases in the US fell below 100,000 which is better than it was in January.  But Virginia still had 3,200 new cases.   I just checked for the statistics a month ago:  on January 10 the US had 212,000 new cases from the previous day and Virginia had 5,100 new infections.  So I suppose the situation is improving somewhat.

Nationwide, over 33 million people, 10.2% of the population, have now received at least one vaccine.  I texted Mary Katherine today to find out if she had any progress on getting an appointment for hers but I didn’t get a response.  Jim already has had his second shot.  So has my brother.  Lynn and I get ours this coming Monday.  I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief after that.

February 11, 2021

The snow that was forecast for last night did not materialize.  We had a little rain in the morning but the temperature remained above freezing so the roads were fine.  Lynn was able to go to Fulks Run Elementary School to test the student there.  She waited to leave home until she had called the school and verified that he was present, which makes a lot of sense.  Fulks Run is 41 miles from here.

I may be bored for the next several days but I do not want to endanger myself now after being safe for the past eleven months with only four days to go until I am completely vaccinated.  I got a request to get some items from Costco for our Food Bank last night but I asked Caroline Jones if I could wait until after my vaccination to get the items.  She was fine with that.  Lynn did go out in order to do her testing and she also made a stop at Aldi’s today but I know she was very self-protective.

I spent a good deal of time today watching the impeachment hearing again.  There is no doubt in my mind that Trump is guilty of inciting the riot.  Those who were caught and are being convicted now are paying for their behavior—why is their leader not?  The Democrat impeachment managers presented overwhelming evidence about Trump’s incendiary behavior in the years, months, and days prior to January 6.  They demonstrated how he called for his mob to come to Washington on the day Congress was to certify the votes of the Electoral College then told them to “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”  They showed how he did nothing to discourage the rioters or check on the fate of Congress and Vice President Pence during the insurrection.  He showed no remorse for what happened.  The more I watched today the angrier I got.  Yet the news reports are that the Republicans in the Senate are unfazed by this evidence.  Where are their souls?  Where is their allegiance?  Where is their conscience?

I like the way the impeachment presenters all referred to the crowd as the “Trump mob.”  One of the impeachment presenters said “I’m not afraid of Trump running for office again.  I’m afraid he will run and lose because look what happens when he does.” 

My sister texted that she got her first vaccine today.  Hurrah!  She, Butch, and I exchanged a few comments.  One of his I strongly agree with, “It feels like we’ve all been wondering which we’ll get first—covid or the vaccine.”

President Biden today said that there would be enough vaccinations in the US by the end of July for every person.  That’s great news.  Right now there are many places with shortages.  Here are today’s statistics:

February 11        Infected                   Died

World             108,259,566           2,376,620

US                     27,992,776              486,561

Virginia                541,018                  6,958

Augusta County       5,007                       52

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,191,875  (245,471 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,792  (1,866 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of hospitalizations in Augusta County continues to climb.  Today the number is 134. 

It was snowing when we went to bed this evening.  The forecast was for 2” – 4” of snow.  Lynn won’t be testing her student at Ottobine Elementary tomorrow—Rockingham County has already called off school. 

February 12, 2021

Indeed, we got about 4” of snow overnight.  So, as I have several mornings already this month, I spent an hour shoveling off our cars and sidewalks.  Today was a little colder than the other days; it was around 26o when I was outside.  The forecast for today is cloudy.  The sun’s radiance will melt the sidewalks and driveway if the layer of snow has been removed so that’s why I shoveled first thing. 

What a pleasure it is to have a neighbor like Bee Myers.  He’s lived across from us all 33 years we have lived in this house.  When it snows, he’s johnny-on-the-spot with his jeep and snow plow.  With his plow he gets the length of our driveway so all I have to shovel is around the cars and on the sidewalks.  He plowed our driveway once in December, once on January 31, and he’s had to do the job several times this month and it isn’t even mid-month yet.

Lynn had lots of craft projects to work on today.  One thing I did was to replace the Christmas dishes with our Fiesta ones. 

Lynn heard from Elizabeth that Gilberto is doing much better now and is able to walk around his house.  That’s such good news.

I was enraged watching Trump’s lawyers give their defense today.  Attorney Schoen made a big deal about Trump being denied due process in this case as if to say that it wasn’t a fair trial.  Yet three of the Senators met with him and the other Trump attorneys last evening.  How fair is it that jurors meet with the defense lawyers?  A Facebook post I saw today said “If I ever commit a major crime, I really hope the jury is made up of the people who helped me do it.”  Then, after complaining that Trump’s words were taken out of context, they played a long video in which numerous Democratic legislators used the word “fight” but every single one of them was taken out of context.  And none of the film clips they showed where Democrats used the word “fight” resulted in our Capitol building being ransacked.

Another attorney blasted the Democratic impeachment team for their hatred of Donald Trump.  No president in my life has been more full of hatred than Donald Trump.  Indeed, he is a person worthy of hate.

The news media was in complete agreement that Trump’s lawyers today were more interested in pleasing him than they were in mounting a reasonable defense.  Their defense was to attack the Democrats.  The defense made no reference to Trump’s tweets that the rioters were “special people” whom he loved and that the “day would be remembered forever.”  They didn’t mention why he made no attempt to come to their rescue or to the Vice President’s.  They didn’t mention that he to this day has not conceded the election. 

Since I really had nothing else to do today, I watched the impeachment hearings all afternoon.  That was a few hours of my life I’ll not get back….

After the defense had rested its case, Senators were allowed to submit questions for the two teams to answer.  One question that caught my eye was from a Senator who asked if, indeed, the teams believed the Big Lie, that the election was stolen from Trump.  Of course, the Democrats refused it vehemently and cited the 61 court cases that went against Trump.  But the irony is that the Republican team refused to answer the question.

For dinner tonight we got hamburgers from the Old School food truck.  After all, today is Friday, snow or no snow.  Actually by the time we went the roads were fine.  We didn’t just get our dinner, we also got dinner for Lynn’s good friend Bonnie Ball and her husband Ron.  Ron suffers from Alzheimer’s and spent the previous two years at a facility but now is at home.  Lynn wanted to help them out so she asked Bonnie if we could bring them burgers and fries from the food truck.

After dinner we made a quick run into Central UMC to pick up some food for the Aguirre family for this weekend.  Pastor Won had picked up a lot of donated food from Food Lion so we filled two boxes of it and brought it back here.  We’ll take it to them tomorrow, if weather allows, or Sunday.  The weather forecast for Sunday is good.  Tomorrow is iffy.  While we were at CUMC I also checked to see how much treasurer’s work was waiting there for me to do.  It turns out there were only two bills to get paid, neither of which needs to be paid immediately, so I put off doing that since we were rushed tonight.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 12        Infected                   Died

World             108,687,432           2,391,794

US                     28,093,824              492,119

Virginia                544,209                  6,966

Augusta County       5,025                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,243,231  (270,738 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        8,974  (1,968 of whom have 2nd dose)

Augusta County had 135 people hospitalized as it continues to climb.  Three more days until we get our second vaccination!  Almost 11% of the national population has been vaccinated; Virginia’s percentage is a little higher at 11.4%.  Augusta County’s rate is 11.9%.

February 13, 2021

Today was income tax day for me.  I installed the 2020 version of TurboTax and spent a good bit of the morning entering data from our W2’s and 1099’s.  Our income was down a little in 2020 compared to 2019 because Lynn worked less for Albemarle and Rockingham Counties.  But we still are slated to get a good refund from both the federal and state governments.  I will likely wait a few days to submit this but I think I got everything done today.

The impeachment was front and center again today on the news.  I spent the entire day watching this including the 57 – 43 vote to acquit Trump.  Of course, I thought the Democratic team made an undeniable case against Trump but the voting was pre-determined.  In their closing statements, the House managers emphasized how Trump did nothing to slow or stop the insurrection and complimented those who participated.  The Republican lawyers in their closing statement didn’t defend Trump at all but instead attacked the Democratic team and everyone else in the Democratic party.  They even implied that the insurrectionists came both from the left and the right and that Biden and Harris had contributed to the climate of civil disobedience.  I was furious and wanted the Democrats to ask them how many Biden signs were carried by the insurrectionists.  But immediately after the vote came the real jaw-dropper:  Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader of the Republicans, stood up and told how he believed exactly what the Democrats had said, that Trump had instigated everything that happened on January 6, but still voted to acquit him on the technicality that he didn’t think the Senate could impeach a person no longer in office.  This is the same exact person who, prior to January 20 when he was the Senate majority leader, told the House they couldn’t bring their case to the Senate prior to January 20 because he wouldn’t call them back in session.  What a hypocrite!  The 57 – 43 vote, including seven Republicans, is the largest guilty vote ever for impeachment in the United States but it just wasn’t enough since a 2/3rds majority was required (67 votes).  This was a kangaroo court. McConnell himself said Trump could still be charged in a criminal court; we can only hope he is.

Lynn and I were both bored to tears today.  Thank goodness I had the impeachment to watch.  I had hoped to see the WVU – Oklahoma basketball game (which the Mountaineers lost 91 – 90 in double overtime) but it was on ESPN+ which is a paid subscription channel.  The outside weather was very ugly today with freezing rain coming down at times, ice on our sidewalks, etc.  We were stuck inside, hiding in our foxholes, waiting until Monday at 12:45.

I admit that I watched the entire hearing and the comments afterwards on CNN which is definitely a Democratic network.  But I find nothing, nothing that the commentators said that I could disagree with.  Their arguments, and the arguments of the House managers, were just common sense and factual.  If what Trump did is not impeachable, nothing is.  Some of the CNN commentators made this point as well.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 13        Infected                   Died

World             109,066,969           2,403,310

US                     28,188,339              495,725

Virginia                547,424                  6,996

Augusta County       5,047                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,298,573  (303,942 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,226  (2,201 of whom have 2nd dose)

There were still 135 Augusta County residents hospitalized today.  I have spent the last eleven months trying to not be one of these.  I am very, very thankful that Lynn and I have somehow not yet been infected.  Sadly, there are now 53 Augusta County residents who have succumbed to COVID-19 as of today.

February 14, 2021

Today was a very good Valentine’s Day.  Lynn and I gave each other cards at breakfast, as always.  I really liked the one she gave me and I think she had a similar opinion of the ones I gave her.  However, my present for her wasn’t given until afternoon—a Smiley’s Death by Chocolate Ice Cream cake.  She and I each had a delicious piece this afternoon and she froze the rest for another day.

After my Sunday School Zoom class, we ate an early lunch then headed out.  Our first stop was to drop off a loaf of bread she had baked for her friend Cheryl.  Then we drove to Natural Chimneys to take the two boxes of food we had picked up for the Aguirre family at Central on Friday night.  From there we went to Central where Lynn dropped me off to do a little treasurer’s work while she went to T J Maxx to buy a new pocketbook.  It didn’t take me long to get my work done and likewise she quickly got a pocketbook so she picked me up and we were on our way to Smiley’s for the ice cream cake.

Actually I had ordered two cakes, one for her and one for the Gutshall family.  So after we picked up the cakes we dropped them by along with another loaf of her bread for Ann and family. 

When we got home she walked for a while in the frigid cold with Ginny Bauman then we ate our ice cream cake.  A short time later we ate our dinner which tonight was pancakes. 

We spent some time talking about our upcoming trip to the Greenbrier.  There are going to be seven of us there:  John and Ginny Bauman, Paul and Sandy Porterfield plus their daughter Emily, and the two of us.  The weather forecast isn’t great—we won’t be able to enjoy much of the outdoors there but that’s OK. 

Our plan for tomorrow is to eat breakfast here then pack.  She has a 11:30 interpreting session that will likely last 15 minutes or so.  By that time we’ll have the car packed so the minute it is over we’ll head to Augusta Health for our very much anticipated follow-up vaccines.  From Augusta Health we’ll go straight to the Greenbrier and should be there in plenty of time for the afternoon tea.

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

February 14        Infected                   Died

World             109,367,294           2,410,509

US                     28,258,366              497,047

Virginia                549,999                  7,012

Augusta County       5,060                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,323,448  (317,526 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,379  (2,344 of whom have 2nd dose)

The number of Americans who acquired COVID-19 in the last 24 hours was under 100,000 and is the lowest this statistic has been since the first of November. But just when things seem to be going better, I have to keep my eye on the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County.  Today the number is an all-time high, 138. This is very worrisome.

February 15, 2021

What a big day!  Getting our second vaccination!  Going to the Greenbrier!  Visiting with friends, eating well, being pampered.  We have looked forward to this for so long.  I was like an excited child last night, unable to sleep well.  We both were up and packed long before we could leave since Lynn had a 11:30 Zoom interpreting session. 

We both killed time in the morning until her Zoom then hustled to Augusta Health.  It only took a few minutes until we had our second vaccination.  YAHOO!!  YAHOO!!  We waited the required fifteen minutes then we were off for the Greenbrier.

The drive down was quick but not pretty.  It was foggy, rained some, and was in the mid 30’s.  But we got here just fine.   When we arrived, we were surprised to see a backup of people registering.  In all the times we’ve come here we’ve not experienced this.  Apparently, there are a lot of people cashing in on the Greenbrier’s reduced rates as were we. 

Since we stay here often, we are a member of the Loyalty club, earning points with each stay.  The advantage of the points is that we were able to upgrade to a nicer room though at the cheap rate.  Indeed, our room was very nice.

Plus, another advantage of staying here so much is that we know where the secret parking places were.  With such a big crowd, there was no easy parking in sight.  But our secret place had a few empty spots so that’s where I parked while Lynn came on up to the room.

We got to the Greenbrier around 2:15.  Paul, Sandy and Emily were here at 3:30.  We met them at the afternoon tea where we enjoyed cookies and tea then talked for several hours.  The large number of people staying here plus the social distancing requirements made it difficult to get a dinner reservation.  We actually had discovered this before we came and the earliest we could secure a reservation for tonight was 8:30.  That’s usually our bedtime!  John and Ginny Bauman made it here around 5:00 and chose to eat dinner in their rooms so we didn’t get a chance to chat with them but had plenty of time to catch up with Paul, Sandy, and Emily. 

Paul and Sandy do so much for other people in their region of North Carolina.  Paul was a successful forester then got into real estate where his work has really taken off.  Every time we’ve visited with them over the past several years his phone keeps ringing.  But much of their business is now to help other people, especially some Hispanic families around them in Grifton, NC.  They finance homes for families, help others buy and sell their properties, and are generally like a rich uncle to a lot of people. 

Our dinner was at the restaurant called The Forum.  It was delicious!  I had a pork chop with asparagus, polenta, and a Greenbrier peach.  Lynn had an angel hair pasta dish. 

It is with great joy that I list today’s coronavirus statistics since today is the first day that Lynn and I are counted in the set of FULLY VACCINATED:

February 15        Infected                   Died

World             109,664,104           2,418,013

US                     28,316,305              498,197

Virginia                551,538                  7,016

Augusta County       5,064                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,367,319  (337,968 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,403  (2,356 of whom have 2nd dose)

The numbers are showing some positive signs.  Virginia had only 4 new deaths today and Augusta County had only 4 new cases.  And, as I’ve been writing about over and over, there are now two residents of 296 Leaport Road included in the number who got their second dose.

We were both very tired and got to bed late but both aware that today was a monumental day.  We are very thankful.

February 16, 2021

Neither of us had any reaction to our vaccination.  We’ve heard of plenty of others who did but many of them took the Moderna version.  Both of us did well with our Pfizer one.  And now with each day we are becoming less susceptible to COVID-19.  Supposedly, it takes about a week to achieve full immunity.

The Greenbrier has adapted to the pandemic in small ways that were noticeable to us.  At yesterday’s tea, instead of having the cookies laid out in buffet style, they were pre-placed on plates and the plates distributed.  At the restaurant, occupancy was at 50%.  There is an expectation to wear masks everywhere except while eating.  There was no turn-down service at night—I’m sure that is to limit the number of times an employee comes into each room.  These are minor, minor changes; the good thing is that the Greenbrier has survived in what must have been a very tough year for them.  Selfishly, we wanted them to stay open because we had purchased a couple of gift cards for ourselves in the past couple of years which were at a good discount and we didn’t want to lose the money on the cards.  But more importantly, the hotel has remained a great place for us to meet with friends.

We had a wonderful breakfast in the main dining hall.  All seven of us met and ate together.  The food and service were superb, no surprise.  After that, the Porterfields went on a Bunker Tour while we and the Baumans went to the history presentation.

We’ve been to the history presentation at least a dozen times.  The one who usually presents it is Bob Conte, the official Greenbrier historian.  He is a great speaker, very entertaining and always shares something new. Indeed, everytime we see this presentation we learn something new about the Greenbrier.  Today was no exception. 

After it, we relaxed then met up with the Porterfields for an ice cream lunch at Draper’s.  Everything at the Greenbrier is expensive except for their great ice cream.  For only $5 you can order a huge sundae of your choice of any flavor plus any toppings you want.  It was more than filling especially given that we had such a big breakfast.

During the afternoon, Emily and Sandy came to our room because Emily had offered to help Lynn with her hurting back.  As I’ve detailed in this blog, her back has been hurting for months, probably injured on the day we moved the Pergola swings to the shed.  Emily gave Lynn a mini-message then she and Sandy showed her how to loosen up the back muscles by standing against a wall with a tennis ball (actually she had a lacrosse ball today) between her and the wall and rolling it by moving her back.  It seemed to work very well for Lynn.  Both of us were very thankful of this relief.

We made it to the 4:00 tea but weren’t hungry and our dinner reservations were for 5:00.  All seven of us were able to eat together at Draper’s.  Lynn and I shared a hamburger and fries—one of the smallest meals we’ve ever had here but it was more than filling.  The conversation was again superb.

We were too tired to go to the casino or do anything else so we came back to our rooms for an early retiral.  Before that we had checked at the check-out desk about our otions for the next two days.  The issue is that there is a major snowstorm coming Wednesday night which is to bring around 4” of snow here plus freezing rain on Thursday morning when we are scheduled to return home.  Plus, Thursday night we’re supposed to get another 4” – 8” of snow.  The lady from the Greenbrier didn’t offer any help; we were told that if we left earliy we’d still forfeit the payment that we made for the room when we made the reservation.  If we stayed an extra night the cost wold be at the normal rate, around twice what we’re paying now.  The Porterfields can’t stay an extra night because they have their second Pfizer vaccine on Friday back in North Carolina.  We agreed to check the weather forecast and make a decision tomorrow.

I’ve looked at the forecast numerous times and personally think that our best option would be to stay here until after lunch tomorrow then come on home before the snow starts.  But I’ll try to not be too pushy with the others though I will let them know my feelings.  We’ll see what happens.

We’ve been away from the news so I don’t know what’s going on in the US but still I can look up our daily coronavirus statistics:

February 16        Infected                   Died

World             110,032,362           2,429,707

US                     28,381,220              499,991

Virginia                553,308                  7,037

Augusta County       5,070                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,399,221  (351,441 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        9,871  (2,585 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The trend is positive, with fewer and fewer cases of COVID-19 each day in our county, state, and nation.  Yet I am still worried about Augusta’s hospitalizations—today the number was 140, the highest ever.  Augusta County had only six new cases but apparently the people who are getting infected now are having more serious issues. 

February 17, 2021

The weather forecast has turned from a weather advisory to a weather watch to a weather warning.  Snow is definitely coming tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night.  While I had definite feelings about leaving today before the storm comes,  I sensed from Lynn a strong desire to stay.  The Porterfields seemed willing to stay and were anxious to see snow since they don’t get it in their part of North Carolina.  I have disappointed Lynn so many times in our 44 years that I resolved to go along with whatever she wanted to do.  Today I felt sure that this will mean we will end up staying an extra day and not leave until Friday.  Well, we didn’t really have anything that had to be done on Thursday back in Virginia.  The Porterfields must leave tomorrow, though, since their 2nd COVID-19 vaccine is scheduled on Friday.

We had another wonderful breakfast in the main dining hall.  We ate with Paul, Sandy, and Emily; John and Ginny ate earlier because they wanted to check out early today and get back before the storm. 

After that we decided to go to the history presentation again.  Many times I’ve heard Bob Conte say during his presentation that “many hotels have good beds and food but we have history….”  There wasn’t much new this time around but it was still educational to be reminded of the history of this place.

After that, we were too full to eat lunch, but we did think we should move our vehicles from the “secret” parking place they were in because it would likely not be plowed with tonight’s snow.  Plus, many people were checking out today so there were close places to move our cars to now.

We took a walk in the afternoon.  The temperature was in the 30’s but the sun was out and it felt good.  After our walk, chatted for a while then went to the afternoon tea where we enjoyed tea and cookies.  After that, it was off to Food and Friends in Lewisburg for dinner.  We had a great meal there and returned to the hotel.  We were all tired and apprehensive about tomorrow’s weather so we retired early.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 17        Infected                   Died

World             110,419,584           2,439,849

US                     28,453,526              502,554

Virginia                555,592                  7,075

Augusta County       5,085                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,427,750  (366,058 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,296  (2,837 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Augusta County still has 140 hospitalized.  According to worldometers.info, the US just passed the half million mark in number of deaths due to COVID-19.  So sad…

Tonight I am going to bed extremely worried about the road conditions tomorrow, especially for the Porterfields’ sake since they have to leave early in the morning.  I am 95% sure that we are going to stay until Friday now where the forecast is much better.  I am always a worrier about road conditions and will not put Lynn’s life or my life in jeopardy unnecessarily. 

February 18, 2021

We did have snow and ice overnight but not as much as we thought.  The Porterfields were up and out by 7:30. We texted each other throughout the day about our whereabouts.  They got home around 5:00—quite a long day in the car.

Lynn and I had a leisurely morning.  We ate breakfast in the Main Dining Hall, each having some delicious pancakes.  Then we returned to our room and started packing up.  I had kept an eye on the weather and road conditions and decided that it would be safe for us to travel today and best for us to leave around 10:30, just before checkout time.  Those plans turned out to be good ones.  The road home was wet but not icy.  Some parts were actually dry.  And there was no precipitation during our drive.  We got home before 12:30 which is about the time it normally takes us to get here from the Greenbrier.  I had said yesterday that I would make sure our travels home would be safe before leaving the Greenbrier and indeed the trip today was.  Lynn drove the whole way.

In the meantime, Jim had let us know that he had already come to Augusta County hoping to pick up some snowblower work.  He did Kay Carter’s driveway then went to Ann’s to pick up Henry then headed out to find some driveway work in Staunton.  They were gone all afternoon.  Henry said they did about ten driveways.

Shortly after we were home, we heard a loud sound in the garage area.  I discovered that one of the springs on the garage door on Lynn’s side had broken.  I had decided a long time ago that whenever we had more trouble with these doors I’d simply replace them both because they are old, heavy, and frequently don’t work well.  I called my old friend Lowell Fulk who was a school board member nearly the entire time I worked for Rockingham County Public Schools.  Lowell works for Overhead Doors in Harrisonburg and I knew he’d treat us well.  We talked for quite a while, I gave him some measurements and sent him a picture, and soon we had new garage doors ordered.  They will be here in a couple of weeks.

I spent some money today because not only did I order new garage doors but I also sent a deposit to the guy who did our upstairs windows for him to replace all of the downstairs ones as well. 

Jim made it home in time for dinner.  We had thawed some of Lynn’s delicious chicken noodle soup plus she made for the first time some Amish Onion Fritters.  They were very good, too.  For dessert we had some Death by Chocolate cake.

February 18        Infected                   Died

World             110,799,525           2,450,637

US                     28,514,986              504,817

Virginia                557,896                  7,090

Augusta County       5,102                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,471,242  (393,306 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,362  (2,873 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are 141 people in the hospital today in Augusta County, another record.  I just don’t understand how, with the number of infections declining and the number vaccinated rising each day, why do the number of hospitalized also increase from day to day?

I finished off the night doing something I haven’t done in years—watching ice hockey.  Jim loves the Washington Caps and was very happy that they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3 – 1 tonight.

February 19, 2021

Today was catch-up and return to normal day.  Lynn had an interpreting session today despite the fact that the schools were all called off due to snow.  I had several checks to write and some other things to do at Central UMC.  Jim needed to do some minor work on his snowblower before he left and he also fixed the latch on the truck’s hood and, as best as he could, cleaned off our front sidewalk with his snowblower.

I say that he did it as best he could because this was a very tough snowfall to remove.  It was mostly ice with a snow covering.  It was hard to shovel and heavy to lift.  I worked on cleaning off my driveway this afternoon and definitely felt the tug on my muscles.

We bought Jim a lunch at Chicano Boys on his way home and he let us know he had gotten home OK.  After he left Lynn and I went to Costco where we picked up a few things for ourselves, some for her sister Kay, and a big load for Central.  I delivered the Central sugar and coffee when I went to pay the bills this afternoon.

It felt good to relax some from COVID-19 now that we are vaccinated.  With Jim here, all three of us had taken both shots so we didn’t even wear masks around each other.  At the stores, masks were still worn but a lot of the worry wasn’t there.

Since today was Friday, we had our usual hamburger dinner from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  After dinner we went back to Staunton to get two boxes of food from Central for the Aguirre family.  We’ll take it to them tomorrow.

One reason we went tonight is that the weather forecast for tomorrow is bitterly cold.  The low tonight is supposed to be in the teens.  Tomorrow it isn’t supposed to get above freezing and tomorrow night the low is supposed to be 10o.  Brrr!  Next week the temperatures are supposed to be much better.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 19        Infected                   Died

World             111,218,875           2,462,216

US                     28,599,759              507,534

Virginia                559,930                  7,098

Augusta County       5,107                       53

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,513,373  (420,574 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        10,867  (3,248 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 141 people in the hospital in Augusta County.  There were only five new cases in Augusta County, no new deaths, and eight additional deaths in Virginia.  The number of new cases in the US was around 85,000 which is much less than it has been.  So there’s reason for hope.  The news tonight said that Anthony Fauci now says elementary students won’t get vaccinated until early 2022, after high schoolers in fall.

February 20, 2021

Today was a cold and somewhat boring Saturday.  We slept in later than usual then took our time getting anything productive done.  I made a run to the trash dump in the morning.  When I got back, we ate an early lunch then took the boxes of food to the Aquirre family. 

The afternoon included a basketball game featuring WVU at Texas.  It was a great game.  Texas shot extremely well in the first half and took a 53- 43 lead at halftime.  That was a lot of points for one half.  Then, to start the second half, they hit three consecutive three pointers to take a 19 point lead.  Things looked bleak for the Mountaineers but the kept chipping their way back.  They finally got back even at 76 all.  The last two minutes were very exciting but the Mounties hung on to win 84 – 82.  It was the second time this season they have come back from 19 down.  It was a great win for WVU and made up for the first time these two teams played when Texas hit a three pointer at the buzzer to win.

The low forecast for tonight is 10o, the coldest of the year thus far.  Watching how devastated Texas has been with the cold this year with no electricity and no water has made me appreciate how easy we’ve had it.  We’ve certainly been blessed with winters that have been bearable lately.  Of course, being retired and not having to climb into a cold car to go to work early in the morning has helped.

We made arrangements to meet Kay, Andy, Thomas, and Georgia tomorrow.  They have girl scout cookies for us and we have several items for them.  We will likely meet them in Front Royal which is approximately halfway.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 20        Infected                   Died

World             111,595,464           2,471,015

US                     28,670,976              509,641

Virginia                561,812                  7,197

Augusta County       5,122                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,541,722  (440,339 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,274  (3,628 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are even more people hospitalized in Augusta County today, 142.  And so far this month Augusta County has lost six people to COVID-19 in just twenty days.  Supposedly, now that we’re vaccinated, even if we get COVID-19 it shouldn’t be a bad case of it.  I hope that’s the case, of course.

February 21, 2021

Though the overnight temperature was frigid, it did warm up a little today making it to around 38o.  After breakfast and Sunday School this morning we loaded up the car and headed for Front Royal to meet Kay, Thomas, and Georgia.  They had suggested a park just north of Front Royal that was easy to get to from I-66.

We had a nice but short visit with the three of them at the park.  It was cold but we still walked a little.  I managed to get a few pictures in.  We exchanged items—we had some Christmas items for them and they had Girl Scout cookies for us including some for Butch, Ann’s family, and Jim. 

On our way back we made stops at Dollar Tree and TJ Maxx.  Then we went to Smiley’s for ice cream before coming home around 4:00.  There wasn’t much to do this evening except eat dinner and watch the news and the end of a NBA basketball game—the first game I’ve seen all season.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 21        Infected                   Died

World             111,935,194           2,477,373

US                     28,758,430              511,010

Virginia                564,115                  7,331

Augusta County       5,124                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,574,229  (463,117 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,337  (3,676 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 142 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Augusta County.  The good news is that there were only two new cases in the County the past 24 hours.

We’re still trying to figure out what we can and cannot do now that we’ve had our Pfizer vaccinations nearly a week ago.  We believe that restaurants should be safe now yet we still wore masks today when we visited with Kay, Georgia, and Thomas outside.  We’re planning on eating with Butch in restaurants in Ohio.  We’re not sure what to plan for this summer concerning family vacations.  When Central resumes Sunday morning worship services at Easter will we attend?  Lynn is going to be testing students in Rockingham County several days this coming week.  She is taking a plexiglass shield with her.

February 22, 2021

Not unexpected, Lynn’s work in Rockingham County didn’t happen today thanks to the morning snow.  Schools there were closed.  The roads were a little icy when I went to Central at 8:15 to do my weekly Treasurer’s work.  I had several bills to pay and a deposit to count and record in QuickBooks.

Central’s finances are not in good shape now and COVID-19 isn’t helping.  I told others in CUMC leadership positions today that we were going to have to move money from our endowment funds in order to pay bills.  This is the first time we’ve had to do this since I began working with QuickBooks.

Lynn was bored most of the day since her work was canceled.  She did check out a book from the Staunton City library which we picked up this afternoon.  She wanted something to read while students were taking the tests she has to administer the rest of this week.

Butch is getting more ideas for our trip to Athens OH this weekend.  Our plan is to leave early Friday morning.  It is a 5 hour drive.  Today I found out that our Virginia EZ Pass will work on the WV Turnpike.  The turnpike is the only way to drive from Beckley to Charleston and costs $8 each way.

After an early dinner, we decided that our vaccines allowed us to do some things we haven’t done for months.  We wanted to walk but it was still cold outside.  So, we hopped in the car and drove to the Valley Mall.  We hadn’t been inside the mall in almost a year.  Boy, has it changed!  It looks now more like the Staunton mall looked for years:  multiple empty store fronts and very few customers.  I’d estimate that almost 50% of the stores have either gone out of business or have a sign that they are going.  We thought there might be several old people like us who had gotten their vaccines who would be walking; we saw one other couple.  Most people there were young.  I’d guess that the number of employees just about equaled the number of customers we saw in the mall.  Most stores had two employees in them, chatting with each other or looking at their phones, with no customers.  The stores that somehow involved a service had a few customers such as the nail salon and the eye glasses store.  But almost all of the jewelry stores had closed along with many other boutique stores.  The store that Lynn worked at in the evening for several years after Jim went to college, Christopher & Banks, is closing in 5 days.  We felt very safe there not just because we were vaccinated but because there were so few people there that no one got near us.  Lynn looked briefly in the Belk and Penney’s stores but we mainly just walked.  A sign said two laps around the perimeter of the mall equaled one mile.  We did four laps, two miles.  I felt tired; I am not in very good shape now.  With the better weather that is forecast to come I need to be walking more.

I like how Dish network has the feature that you can rewind up to an hour’s programming and re-watch.  We got home tonight just as the nightly news had ended so I just rewound and watched it. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 22        Infected                   Died

World             112,247,612           2,484,663

US                     28,822,047              512,473

Virginia                565,270                  7,486

Augusta County       5,130                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,602,502  (481,287 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,348  (3,680 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The statistics continue to be puzzling.  Virginia had an increase of only 1,100 number of new cases in the past 24 hours but the number of deaths increased by over 150.  Augusta County’s number of new cases was only six but there are more people than ever hospitalized, 143.  The national graphs clearly show that the number of new cases and hospitalizations across the US are decreasing at a nice rate.  The daily case average is down 74% since January.  Yet today the US marked a grim milestone—over 500,000 deaths.  This is more deaths than the total of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam war casualties. 

February 23, 2021

Lynn was the breadwinner today.  She left early for Ottobine Elementary School to do Access testing for ELL students.  My only chores for the day were conducting a Central Finance Committee meeting at 2:00 and being secretary for Central’s Council meeting at 7:00. 

I did make a quick run to Harrisonburg this morning to get salt for the water softener plus cash for our Ohio this weekend.  Plus, I updated some picture on my computers.  Then I did a few things to prepare for the Finance Committee which met via Zoom at 2:00.  The biggest part of this meeting was for us as a committee to find a way to the cash shortfall caused by decreased giving and high bills.  The committee decided to move $8,300 from one of the investment accounts to the general fund to solve the problem for the short term.

After that, it was time for Freddie’s bus.  For the first time since the pandemic, we felt fine in having him come into our house.  He spent most of the time waiting for his mom in the basement playing on the computer.  He had asked to play Wii but our Wii was dead.  That was a bummer; it has entertained grandchildren for years.

As soon as Ann picked Freddie up, Lynn and I took our two mile walk.  The temperature was fine, around 50o, but the wind was fierce.  That makes two straight days that we have walked and tomorrow’s forecast looks like another walking day.  Lynn was at Ottobine most of the day today but tomorrow her only scheduled work is a Zoom interpreting session in the morning.

I spent some time today doing preliminary plans for us to take an Oregon trip in late May.  Oregon will be our 49th state visited.  I’ve got plans now for a seven day trip where we’ll fly to Portland then rent a car to see lots of the natural beauty Oregon has to offer.  I didn’t make any reservations yet so the plans aren’t anywhere near final.

Tonight I had a conflict:  both the Central Administrative Council meeting and the WVU – TCU basketball game were scheduled at 7:00.  Fortunately, the game was recorded on our DVR so I could watch it in its entirety after the meeting.  I’m the secretary of Council so I can’t just skip out of the meeting.

The Council meeting lasted longer than I wanted it to, around 8:30.  I immediately got the WVU game started and fast forwarded through all the timeouts and foul shots.  The Mountaineers repeatedly went out to comfortable leads only to falter and see TCU get back in the game.  Their 16 point lead in the second half dwindled to eight with four minutes to go as they missed multiple free throws in a row.  But they held on against a decidedly inferior team and won 74 – 66.  The Mounties have now won six consecutive road games in the Big 12 league and are ranked #10 nationally.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 23        Infected                   Died

World             112,638,446           2,495,339

US                     28,897,718              514,996

Virginia                567,039                  7,658

Augusta County       5,139                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,632,700  (497,401 of whom have 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        11,562  (3,725 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Particularly worrisome is the number of new deaths in Virginia—172 in one day.  And the number of hospitalizations in Augusta County keep climbing—144. 

February 24, 2021

Today was another easy day with not a lot to do.  I went to Staunton this morning with some errands to do, mainly Treasurer’s stuff at Central.  Lynn had a morning interpreting session with Rockingham County Schools.  The weather today was the best it has been for weeks with temperature rising to the 60’s. 

Both of us stayed busy all day today.  After my errands in Staunton, I came home and did several chores around the house while Lynn went with her sister Kay to Green Valley Auction to look over several items that are now being auctioned from their parents’ home.  Apparently there are some things which the two of them want which were included in the auction so they are bidding on them.  It is an online auction.

When they got back we went back to Staunton to pick up some soup that Cheryl Kent had secured for the Aguirre family.  We also had loaded up the food for them that I brought home yesterday from Central so our next stop was at their home near Natural Chimneys.  We typically take them food on Saturdays but we’ll be in Ohio this Saturday.

After that run we hopped back in the car and went to Penn Laird to pick up pizza from Vito’s Pizza Pie, our favorite.  The pizza we bought tonight will last us through tomorrow’s dinner.

Lynn will be testing students all day tomorrow at Elkton.  I’ve got several things planned to keep me busy during the day.

We didn’t get a chance to walk today which is regrettable given the weather.  The temperatures were warm but again it is exceptionally windy today.  Plus we were rushed between all the errands we ran today.

My nephew Joseph called last evening to say his mom, Mary K., had been hospitalized with a kidney infection.  He said she was doing OK but would likely be there for a few days.  This afternoon I called her at the Altoona hospital.  She answered and her daughter Kit was there so I got to talk to both of them.  Mary K. led me to believe that I had been misled about the severity of her issues.  I think that the kidney issue also led her to have breathing and blood pressure issues.  She even told me that the nurse had told her she wasn’t sure if MK would make it through the night though she was doing somewhat better today.  That was very puzzling.  Even Kit told me she had been called to come this morning so I’m really not sure how she is doing.  Later this evening Joseph texted an update.  In it he said “She had a tough 24 hours.  After last night we felt pretty good about her progress only for kit to get a call from a nurse this morning that they were very concerned that there was increased fluid in her lungs and around her heart and kidneys and she was not fighting off the infection.   After several conversations with PAs and doctors we learned that they have switched one of her antibiotics and it seems to be working better.  They are still worried about her decreased heart function but the first issue is to get the infection down which may be causing many of the other issues.  Her blood pressure is back to normal levels which is good.  Once the infection is under control they will focus on what is causing the kidney functions to be below expectations.  Bottom line from the doctor is that she is stable and under good care although not out of the woods entirely.  She is in good spirits and to no surprise talkative.  I will keep you updated daily but feel free to call if you need more information.”

Some good news on the COVID-19 front is that in an analysis released Wednesday, the US Food and Drug Administration said the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine has met the requirements for emergency use authorization — another step toward the authorization of a third shot for the United States.  This vaccine has the advantages that it only requires one dose and doesn’t have to be kept in super-freezers.  I hope this increases the probability that others in our family such as Kay, Andy, and Josh, will soon get their vaccines.  I don’t think the grandchildren will get theirs for many months.

Here are today’s numbers:

February 24        Infected                   Died

World             113,073,369           2,506,583

US                     28,970,468              517,367

Virginia                568,946                  7,807

Augusta County       5,144                       54

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,667,353  (516,655 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        11,979  (3,908 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

Once again, the statistics are puzzling.  Virginia’s daily infections rose by only 1,900 but the number of deaths rose by 159.  Augusta’s number of infections increased by only five and the number who have died and are hospitalized remained the same at 54 and 144, respectively.

February 25, 2021

I had a very busy but successful morning running errands.  First I loaded up our trash and the Gutshall’s and went to the dump.  On the way home I stopped at the Post Office and had our  mail held for Friday and Saturday.  Then I came home, picked up my laptop, grocery bags, and the grocery list and went to Central.  There I recorded the message about Central’s finances that Pastor Won had asked me to do which will be part of the video for this coming Sunday morning.  While I was there I took advantage of Central’s good internet connection to upload the video to my Google drive so Yi-Ping Chen can download it for inclusion in the YouTube video she’ll do for the service.  Then I headed to Kroger and bought Lynn’s yogurt which was on sale.  From there I went to Aldi’s and bought a bunch of items including a fire extinguisher which they had on sale.  Ours hadn’t been replaced since we bought the house in 1988!  Actually I’d already ordered a replacement for it from Amazon but last night Lynn noticed that Aldi’s had them on sale.  So now we’ll have two instead of one so old it probably wouldn’t work.

I got home just before Lynn did from her work at Elkton Elementary, put the groceries away, then ate lunch with her.  On her list of things to do for the day were to make English Muffins for Butch and pepperoni rolls for Wiley.  She started on these jobs then took a break so we could walk in the nice weather.  We had a very pleasant walk; today wasn’t as warm as yesterday but the wind was calm which makes all the difference.  When we got back she finished her chores then we ate dinner.

We both spent time getting ready for our trip tomorrow.  We hope to leave very early in the morning.  We need to make a stop at the Greenbrier to pick up our checkbook which was inadvertently left there last week.  Then we’ll resume on our five hour trip.

I mentioned that for the last two days I’ve spent some time planning a May trip to Oregon.  Lynn suggested today that I should make sure Oregon has no travel restrictions.  Guess what?   If we were to go there today we’d be asked to quarantine for 14 days there!  We won’t be making any permanent plans to go there until this is lifted.

Joseph sent this text to Butch and me midday: “MK is a little better today.  Kidney functions have improved albeit slightly.  They have been successful in reducing fluids around her heart, lungs, and kidneys although that is also a slow process.  She looks better and is in a chair and not bed.  I will send another update tonight after speaking to the doctors.”

Later he wrote again: “She had a better day for sure.  The doctor is pleased with her response to the infection.  The fluid is also decreasing.  She will need some additional testing to understand why this happened but they are focused mostly on beating the infection first.  She will need a heart cath at some point but not until she continues to improve.  She looks better today and feels better as well.  I will keep you all updated.”

Lynn only has one more day of ELL testing in Rockingham County.  She plans to finish up next Tuesday.  She still has some interpreting sessions scheduled but her March will definitely be lighter than her February was.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

February 25        Infected                   Died

World             113,498,837           2,517,458

US                     28,039,576              520,450

Virginia                570,982                  7,963

Augusta County       5,156                       55

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,709,828  (543,394 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        12,377  (4,210 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

From the New York Times data:  In Virginia on January 17, there were 9,914 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.  Today there were “only” 1907.  So the number of cases in the state has definitely decreased and the graph of cases versus time definitely shows that.  What’s disturbing is that since February 13 there has not only been increases in the number of daily deaths, the number is actually at its highest point ever now.  Instead of seeing these numbers decline like cases, they have risen. What’s going on?

I mentioned a few days ago about the online auction involving some of Lynn’s parents estate which had been going on for the past few days.  The auction ended this evening.  Lynn had placed bids on several items.  It was interesting watching the items sell online.  Each item had a specified auction end time.  Items were spaced several seconds apart.  This is a novel way to conduct the auction but it seems to work well.

February 26, 2021

Today was our trip to Ohio to visit with Butch.  We got up early, packed, and were out of the house by 7:30.  Traffic was generally good the whole way.  Our first stop was at the Greenbrier where we had left our checkbook last weekend.  Lynn had called them as soon as we got back and discovered it and, sure enough, they had found it in the safe in our room and held it for us to pick up today which we did.

While at the Greenbrier, we had a restroom stop and I bought some coffee for my brother.  It was a quick stop and soon we were heading east again on I-64.  From there we joined I-77 in Beckley which is the WV Turnpike.  We had previously checked and found out that our EZ Pass would work on the turnpike and, indeed, it did.  We kept on driving on I-77 north of Charleston until US 33W took us straight to Athens.  It was just over a five hour drive plus our stop at the Greenbrier.

We checked in at the Ohio University Inn which is right beside the campus.  It was where we were supposed to have our Thanksgiving family dinner before it got canceled.  Butch joined us there shortly after we got here.  After chatting for a while we took a hike around a section of the campus that, decades ago, housed an insane asylum. 

While we were chatting in the room, we called my sister.  She seemed better today and hopes to get out of the hospital day after tomorrow.  She was a little groggy but definitely seems to have improved.  Kit had texted us earlier in the day that her mom was doing better, too.  That’s good news.

During our walk today, Butch learned from us how Lynn’s back has been hurting.  He has a friend who is a message therapist and he quickly called her and made an appointment for Lynn to have a back massage tomorrow afternoon, 

After our hike, Butch went to his house.  I got a cup of coffee from the Starbucks which is inside the Ohio U Inn and Lynn read a book she had just checked out by Trevor Noah.  Butch picked us up shortly after 5:00 and we headed for dinner at an Italian restaurant, Ciro’s.  It wasn’t the Ciro’s chain we have in Virginia; this was a locally owned and very nice restaurant.  The three of us were joined by Wiley, who drove himself there, and Butch’s friends Kristin and Maria.  We had a great meal:  I had a special spaghetti dinner with meat balls.  Lynn had a mushroom ravioli.  Butch had a salmon dinner.  He insisted on paying for everything.

When we got gack to the hotel we gave Butch the things we had brought for him:  Girl Scout cookies from Georgia, a shirt from Kay, pepperoni rolls and English Muffins Lynn had baked, and the coffee I bought for him.  Lynn and I then got in bed, tired from a long ride and full from a huge dinner.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

February 26        Infected                   Died

World             113,985,109           2,529,337

US                     29,136,912              523,082

Virginia                572,639                  8,197

Augusta County       5,178                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,781,339  (587,990 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        20,505  (7,197 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

The vaccination numbers for Augusta County are impossibly high and I have to believe the VDH site is in error.  There’s no way Augusta County vaccinated 8,000 people today.

February 27, 2021

Today was another day of visitation with Butch.  It started with breakfast together this morning at the hotel.  Then we went to Bath and Body Works where Butch’s friend Kristin works.  Lynn bought some candles there.  Then we went to Butch’s house where Lynn looked through various jewelry and other items that had been Ann’s that Butch wanted to get rid of.  From there we drove back to campus and took a nice three mile walk on the bike path and through campus.

From there we came back to the hotel, talked with Kay on the phone, then Lynn got ready for her afternoon massage.  She had a great experience with it.  We’re going to have to find someone near us who can do this.  She really felt good after it.

While she had her message Butch and I went to his house and called Mary K.  It turns out that she is having issues with her heart.  So instead of her getting released from the hospital, she is going to have a heart catherization done to find out what is causing her heart to underperform.  This is concerning and is the first time she’s had any heart issues. 

After picking Lynn up, we came back to the hotel and watched some of the WVU – Kansas State basketball game.  It was a relatively easy win for the Mountaineers, 65 – 43.  They are currently ranked #10 in the US.

Our next activity was dinner at El Camino, a Mexican restaurant in Athens.  It was a superb meal.  Lynn and I both had Arroz con pollo.  Plus their quacamole was delicious on the chips.  For dessert we had sopapillas.  Butch’s friends Kristin and Maria joined us; we had good conversation in addition to the good food.

Butch seemed to really enjoy our company.  He does have many, many friends in Athens.  He seems to know everyone’s name from the mailman to the servers at the restaurants. 

The good news for today is that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was officially approved for emergency authorization use.  This will add a third arrow in the vaccination quiver.  Perhaps this will mean the rest of the adults in our family can soon be vaccinated.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

February 27        Infected                   Died

World             114,364,387           2,536,679

US                     29,202,186              524,654

Virginia                574,314                  8,382

Augusta County       5,185                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,855,904  (616,469 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        21,501  (7,695 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 144 people hospitalized in Augusta County. 

February 28, 2021

Most of the day today was spent driving home from Ohio.  We had breakfast with Butch at the hotel then checked out and began our drive home in the rain around 9:00.  It rained from Athens to Charleston WV but from there on it was just overcast.  We stopped once, at Tamarack in Beckley, where Lynn found some Cherry Butter to try sometime.  We were home shortly before 2:30.

I didn’t sleep well last night largely due to the amount of Mexican food I had eaten at dinner and the noise from a party in an adjoining room at the hotel.  So I was tired the whole way home.  Once I got everything unloaded Lynn went into Staunton to pick up the glassware Kay had picked up for Lynn from the estate auction of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger’s belongings at Green Valley Auction.  I told Lynn I was going to lie down for a while.  Whew!  Two hours later I awoke as she came back home.  I almost never nap during the day but today was something else.  I was out of it!  The nap really helped me.

We had hoped to have picked up hamburgers from the Old School food truck in Weyers Cave for dinner but it turns out they aren’t open on Sundays.  So we scrounged together some leftovers then went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is set to be distributed immediately.  This is certainly good news.  Here are today’s statistics:

February 28        Infected                   Died

World             114,670,438           2,542,425

US                     29,251,954              525,650

Virginia                576,050                  8,552

Augusta County       5,196                       56

            Vaccinated

            Virginia            1,933,953  (666,970 of whom have 2nd dose)         

            Augusta County        22,317  (8,141 of whom have 2nd dose including us!)

There are still 144 people hospitalized in Augusta County.  It is encouraging to see that more people have now received two doses of the vaccine than have been infected in the County.  This is also true of Virginia.  Perhaps there is hope for a herd immunity if you consider how many people have already been infected with COVID-19 plus those who have been vaccinated against it. 

We got some good news from Kay today.  Thomas’ good friend Kush had been exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and the two of them had played together so Thomas wasn’t allowed to participate in a soccer tournament this weekend.  Then today Kush got back his test results which were negative so Thomas and Andy quickly headed out to the soccer tournament.

January 2021: Life in the COVID-19 era

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!  I’m hoping this will be a happy news year with lots of good news about treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. 

Lynn and I have been watching the Netflix series Bridgerton at night the last couple of nights.  We’ve seen five of the eight episodes thus far.  It is about life in the British aristocracy in the early 1800’s where debutants are presented at court in the hopes of finding marriage.  Of all the series Lynn and I have watched during this pandemic this is the one I have liked the least.  For one, I miss some of the lines because of the British accent.  But the main reason is that I have absolutely no interest in the life and lifestyles of those at this socioeconomic level.  Even in modern news, whenever something about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle comes on I turn my ears off.  I’d much rather hear about the life of someone like my brother, George Stephanopolous, Jimmy Carter, Anthony Fauci, or Francis Collins.

To be honest, when I was trying to think of people to include in that last sentence I had a hard time.  There are just very few people beyond my immediate family that I highly admire.  I am not proud of this; I wish there were more people that I want to emulate.  I think that I struggled to find admirable people because I don’t look for them.  It is much easier to blast Donald Trump for his failings than to find someone to praise for their honorable deeds.  I like people who do their jobs well without seeking public adulation.  This includes people like my former employees Nevin Diener and Oskar Scheikl, my childhood minister Jerry Conner, our car mechanics Tom and Brian Simmons, former principal Charles Huffman, and colleague Harold Randall.

It is also very fair to say that the person I admire the highest is Lynn.  She is undoubtedly the most talented, intelligent, big-hearted, selfless, and thoughtful person I have ever known.  I’m beginning 2021 with renewed appreciation of her companionship.

For fun, I looked up how many games of Whirly Word and Solitaire I have now played.  On April 20, 2020, I started this blog, I had played 18,820 and 8,311 of each of those games, respectively.  This morning I was at 21,010 games of Whirly Word and 9,963 games of Solitaire.  That means that I have averaged over 12 games of Whirly Word and 6 games of Solitaire for each of the 258 consecutive days I have written about life in the COVID-19 era.  That alone says something about my lifestyle in the past nine months.

Lynn and I were able to walk two miles yesterday but not today.  Today’s weather was an awful cold rain with sleet mixed in.  It was a good day to stay indoors though both of us were bored.  Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be much better so we’ve planned to go for a walk tomorrow at a place I’ve been looking forward to seeing—the Crozet tunnel under Afton Mountain which is now open to the public.

We got our $1,200 stimulus check today electronically deposited into our checking account.  The irony is that until the pandemic is over we won’t be spending much of it.  Once we’re vaccinated our vehicles will be loaded with suitcases and we’ll try to make up for lost ground in the spending category.

Lynn taught a lesson today via Facetime—she showed Georgia how to knit.  She had given Georgia a knitting kit for Christmas.  Georgia had asked for this after watching her teacher knit while teaching.  So today Lynn taught her how it is done.  Later Kay sent us a video showing Georgia knitting while watching tv!

We also talked with Mary K. today.  She sent us a couple of pictures of her new grandson Den.  And we chatted with Butch who told us how he had Facetimed with Georgia who sold him some Girl Scout cookies.  I told him it must have been because her Scout Leader was pushy (her Mom).

Here are the coronavirus statistics for the first day of 2021:

January 1            Infected                   Died

World               84,261,867           1,833,046

US                     20,567,957              355,918

Virginia               354,766                  5,081

Augusta County       3,365                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       75,288                       

            Augusta County              541

So Virginia administered almost 1,000 vaccines today.  That might sound good but with a population of 8,600,000, at this rate it will take 8,600 days or 24 years to vaccinate all of us.  We still have way under 1% of the population vaccinated after half a month of vaccinating.  Augusta County’s total is 7/10ths of 1% of the population.  This is totally unacceptable. 

The semifinals in the NCAA football playoff were today.  I watched some of each game:  Alabama vs Notre Dame then Clemson vs Ohio State.  Alabama dominated Notre Dame in the first game then I watched the second one in bed.

January 2, 2021

WVU had a basketball game today against Oklahoma at Oklahoma.  It was a typical WVU loss—terrible play, awful shooting, a glimpse of hope, followed by disappointment at the end.  They shot 23% in the first half and got down by 18 points.  Then, they played like they are capable of and came back and tied the game with 8 minutes left.  But down the stretch they let it go and lost, 75 – 71.  It is so hard to be a WVU fan—you have to get used to disappointment.  But I will be one forever.

Today’s weather was nicer than it had been for days.  Lynn placed a pickup order at Michael’s in Charlottesville so we drove there around lunch time to pick it up.  Our plan was to get that order then head for the newly opened Afton Mountain tunnel for a nice walk.  Unfortunately, many other people had the same plans.  When we got there, cars were parked all over the place.  We waited for a spot but that didn’t happen.  Finally, we gave up and came home.  We figured the tunnel would have been crowded anyway with such a throng of people there and this is no time to be in a crowd.  It was disappointing.  We came home and walked our two mile neighborhood walk.

Earlier in the day I had made a trash run including a stop at Ann’s house to get theirs.  I’m driving the back roads now because Jim’s truck has an expired inspection sticker.  I suppose I’ll make arrangements to get it inspected this coming week.  Jim’s plan is to apply for antique plates for it since it is now 25 years old.  With antique plates you don’t have to have your vehicle inspected.  But technically it doesn’t turn 25 until March so I’m thinking I’ll have to get it inspected one more time.

Lynn placed a pickup order at Walmart for today, too.  We’re both trying hard to stay out of indoor establishments for a while.  COVID-19 is just too rampant now.  Looking at the statistics, in the US one out of every sixteen persons has it.  In Virginia that number is something like one out of every twenty four and in Augusta County it is one out of every twenty two. 

Here are today’s figures:

January 2            Infected                   Died

World               84,925,992           1,842,647

US                     20,867,714              358,485

Virginia               358,755                  5,117

Augusta County       3,389                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 81,770                 

            Augusta County        570

There have been almost 400,000 doses of vaccine distributed thus far.  Why have only 20% of them been administered?  I am getting increasingly impatient with how poorly the vaccinations are happening.  

Here is data from the Washington Post about Virginia:  At least 90,011 doses have been administered, covering 1.9% of the prioritized population and 0.7% of the state’s population.  Virginia has been allocated 486,275 doses, enough to vaccinate 15.0% of the prioritized population and 5.7% of the state’s population.  

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, At least 49,827 doses have been administered, covering 4.1% of the prioritized population and 2.2% of the state’s population. West Virginia has been allocated 109,700 doses, enough to vaccinate 11.0% of the prioritized population and 6.1% of the state’s population. 

I don’t know why the Washington Post has more people vaccinated in Virginia than the VDH website says but even with its increased numbers, under 1% of the state’s population is vaccinated whereas West Virginia is at 2.2%.  And, how has West Virginia been able to get almost 50% of its vaccines administered whereas Virginia is at 20%.  Makes no sense.

CNN reported that nationwide, 125,379 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday, more than any other day of the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project.  The number of patients topped 125,000 on Friday as well. The US has now remained above 100,000 hospitalizations for 31 straight days. Augusta County has 78 people currently hospitalized.

January 3, 2021

This was a typical Sunday for us—not much to do and nowhere to go.  We did go to Central this morning and picked up the monthly communion serving which was given streetside along with soup from Millie Brown and Connie Davis.  We also got a box of food for Elizabeth’s family and drove it to them.  Elizabeth reported that Gilberto is making slow improvement and, of course, is stil at UVA.

I got a lesson from Lynn today about Hispanic families’ last names.  I’ve been using the last name Jiminez for Elizabeth and her family.  Actually Jiminez is her last name which she keeps, as do most Hispanic couples.  Gilberto’s last name is Aguirre.  Thus Emily and Nathan have the last name of Aguirre – Jiminez which many people (including me) incorrectly shorten to Jiminez.  If anything, it is the Jiminez that should be dropped when reporting their last name if only one name is to be given.  Lynn had undoubtedly explained that to me earlier but I had forgotten.  In many previous posts I incorrectly listed Gilbeto’s last name as Jiminez.

This afternoon I rode with Lynn to Michael’s in Harrisonburg to pick up an order which she had placed for curbside pickup.  We really are trying to limit our in-store appearances.

Today, I learned of two more cases of COVID-19 in our church, one of which turned out to be fatal.  An elderly lady, Barbara Berry, passed away due to its complications.  She was 89 years old and lived at a nursing home.  Another person, Sarah Melton, has come down with the virus and, according to Pastor Won, is having lots of its adverse symptoms.  I do not believe she is hospitalized.  Furthermore, Won said he thought Susan Obaugh was being released from the hospital.  Still, these are just more cases of COVID-19 affecting people closer and closer to our lives.  Won said that Sarah’s son Shawn also has it.

As we drove to Elizabeth’s house between 11:00 and noon today we passed several churches.  The differences were stark.  At some, the parking lots were empty as services had been called off due to COVID-19.  At others, the parking lots were full, even at churches with obviously small sanctuaries where inside social distancing would have been impossible.  I cannot believe that God expects us to ignore the advice of scientific experts like Francis Collins and fill our churches up at a time when this virus is spreading rampantly.  At our church, for example, the only cars there were those of Won, Millie, Connie, and Yi-Peng Chen who led a Zoom hymn sing.  At Mount Pisgah UMC near our house, the main parking lot was completely full and the overflow lot across the street was over half full.  Their sanctuary is much smaller than ours.

Today’s big news on CNN is that they were given by the Washington Post an audio tape of a phone call Donald Trump made on Saturday to the Republican Georgia Secretary of State demanding that he “find 11,780 votes” and still claiming that he won the election.  They played the tape over and over on the air.  He even threatened the Secretary that if he didn’t immediately act then he would be guilty of an offense.  As Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, tweeted to Ted Cruz who has been singing Trump’s songs of election malfeasance, “You want to investigate election fraud?  Start with this…”

Today’s COVID-19 data is no different from the past:

January 3            Infected                   Died

World               85,455,394           1,850,112

US                     21,080,607              360,027

Virginia               363,765                  5,124

Augusta County       3,498                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 87,618                 

            Augusta County        608

Disappointment, as usual.  Virginia had over 5,000 new cases in just one day.  Augusta County had 109 new cases and has 81 people hospitalized.  We barely have 1% of the Virginia population vaccinated and have used slightly over 20% of the vaccines we’ve received.  Augusta County vaccinated only 38 people today.  I wish I had better news to report and each time I report this kind of information I get more irritated about the state’s ineptitude to get people vaccinated.  ABC tonight reported that Israel had already vaccinated 12% of its population.

There have been 50,000 American deaths in the past 20 days according to ABC news.  Despite the warnings from all medical experts, there is still a segment of the population which is acting like nothing has happened.  ABC had video clips of throngs of people on the beach and at parties, all unmasked and standing side by side. 

Some good news is that Moderna says it can reduce the size of the dosage in its vaccinations by ½, thereby doubling the number of vaccinations available.  The CDC hasn’t approved this yet.

January 4, 2021

I’m still ticked about the rate at which vaccinations are deployed.  So today I did this math after it was pointed out on the news that some people are getting their second vaccination meaning that it has been 21 days since this process was begun.  If Virginia has vaccinated 87,618 people in 21 days, it will take 5.6 years to vaccinate its population at that rate.  Now tell me that is satisfactory…

Knowing it will be a while before I get my vaccination, I canceled a dentist appointment I had next week and plan to cancel a doctor’s appointment I have in February.  I did go in to Central this morning to do the weekly deposit in QuickBooks but I was by myself in the library most of the time. 

The news media is still hopping about that recorded phone call of Trump’s on Sunday.  Some are calling for him to be indicted as violating Georgia law and pointing out that he can’t pardon himself from state laws, only federal.  The news should be about the pandemic and vaccinations but instead it is still about this worthless excuse of a President we have. 

Lynn had her two Cheryl friends over this morning while I was at Central.  Before I left, I set up the patio heater for her.  We had issues with it on Sunday, Dec. 28, when the grandchildren were here but today it worked flawlessly.  I think the issue on the 28th was that it was too windy and the excessive wind kept extinguishing it.  Today it wasn’t windy and the heater worked well for Lynn and her friends.

Our week has very few events scheduled.  Lynn was supposed to have a Zoom IEP meeting with a family in Rockingham County but it was canceled.  She’s supposed to have another one tomorrow, too.

I started reading a book today that Butch had recommended called Being Mortal.  It is by a medical doctor, Dr. Atul Gawande, who grew up where Butch lives in Athens Ohio and is about aging and dying.  It describes how modern medicine has mishandled both of these inevitable stages of life.  The book’s subtitle is “Medicine and What Matters in the End.”

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 4            Infected                   Died

World               85,968,273           1,858,631

US                     21,258,720              361,485

Virginia               367,536                  5,132

Augusta County       3,639                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                 89,326                 

            Augusta County        608

Virginia’s numbers were a little better today with only 8 new deaths.  Augusta County, on the other hand, had 141 new cases in the past 24 hours.  And the vaccination page showed ZERO new vaccinations in Augusta County.  I hope this is just a reporting error.  My temper is about to explode.  If Virginia expects to have everyone vaccinated by June 30, the state needs to do 48,000 vaccinations EVERY DAY between now and then.  Can you see how badly we’re doing at this?

Here’s my solution—give the vaccinations to McDonald’s to administer.  According to an article I found from USA Today from 2019, McDonald’s sells 140 million hamburgers every day in the US.  If they were to do vaccinations instead of burgers, it would take two and a half days to vaccinate everyone in America.  After all, doesn’t it take longer to cook a hamburger than it does to stick a needle in someone’s arm?

Seriously, whomever is in charge of vaccinations in Virginia is doing an awful job.  The Wall Street Journal webpage which tracks vaccinations says that Virginia has given 108,861 vaccinations thus far which is 1.3% of the population.  But it has over 486,000 doses on hand.  What good do these vaccinations do when they’re sitting in a refrigerator somewhere??

January 5, 2021

With housekeeper Connie coming this morning Lynn and I wanted to get out of the house.  But since we didn’t want to go into any other buildings, where could we go?  We came up with a great plan:  we drove to the Crozet Tunnel on Afton Mountain which we had tried to see on Saturday but gave up when we discovered it was too busy for us to even park.  Today, with the temperature around 30o when we left home at 8:30, we knew that wouldn’t be the case today. 

We were right about that.  We had bundled up before we left home including long underwear.  We drove to the East side of the tunnel which is in the small town of Afton.  It was a half mile walk to the East end of the tunnel and nearly a mile through the tunnel.  Actually we walked to the 1.5 mile mark on the newly developed trail then turned around and came back.  It was a great three mile walk. 

The tunnel is long but straight so you can see a pinhole of light at the other end when you enter it.  Flashlights are a must and we had ours.  We’ve had lots of rain this season so there were places where the water was still dripping down but we did not walk anywhere in the mud.  The folks who have re-opened this tunnel and the trails to it have done a great job.  I took 42 pictures which I posted to my website when we got back.

On the way back home we made two stops.  First we went to Aldi’s where Lynn got some groceries.  Then we went to Smiley’s for an ice cream lunch.  Again, we were trying to stay away from home while Connie was here so what better place to go than Smiley’s?

I’m about halfway through the book I began reading yesterday, Being Mortal.  Much in this book is about how elderly people can live a happy, self-fulfilling life, not just a safe and medically treated life even though the book is by a doctor.  The examples in the book very much remind me of my parents and grandparents as well as Lynn’s parents.  It talks about how decisions about where elderly people live are made by their children, not the elderly themselves.  It talks about how people want for themselves to have lots of freedom but their loved ones to be safe.

Tonight we’ve kept glued to the news to see how the Georgia elections are going since the Senate’s control is so dependent on the two runoff elections there today.  Tomorrow we’ll be likewise watching with great interest as Congress is supposed to affirm the results of the Electoral College and declare Joe Biden President-Elect despite Trump’s intention to intervene.  As ABC news said it, Trump on Monday had made clear to Pence privately that he expects him to use his role as president of the Senate to deny Biden the presidency during the joint session of Congress, in which both houses will count each state’s electoral votes and reaffirm Biden’s win, according to a person familiar with their conversation.  Of course, Pence has absolutely no authority to do that.

Of course, the news tonight was still awful regarding COVID-19.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 5            Infected                   Died

World               86,776,758           1,873,844

US                     21,553,196              365,184

Virginia               371,913                  5,191

Augusta County       3,677                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               104,083                 

            Augusta County        671

The vaccinations listed here are from the Virginia Department of Health website.  Here are the statistics from the Washington Post:  At least 126,363 doses have been administered, covering 3.9% of the prioritized population and 1.5% of the state’s population.  Virginia has been allocated 587,575 doses, enough to vaccinate 18.0% of the prioritized population and 6.9% of the state’s population.

I don’t care which is more accurate—VDH or Washington Post.  The numbers provided in each are woefully behind where we should be at this point and cause people like me to worry even more.

January 6, 2021

The news is abuzz today about the wins by the two Democrats in the runoff election in Georgia.  Both Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated the incumbent Republican Senators in the special election.  Democrats now have a majority in both the House and Senate which will make it much easier for Biden to get his agenda enacted.  That is really good news.

But that news was quickly eclipsed by the siege that was made on the Capitol building today by Trump supporters.  This was a day for history, for sure.  All the while, Trump kept claiming that the election was stolen from him and then inciting his followers to riot.  After the four-hour occupation of the Capitol by these thugs, Trump complimented them as “patriots.”  Facebook broke out in many, many calls for the 25th amendment to be invoked whereby he is removed from office.  Reporters, politicians, both Democrat and Republican, and nearly everyone else all placed the blame for this insurrection squarely on Trump.  Trump was hell bent on disrupting the meeting of Congress whereby Biden would formally be given the title of President-Elect.  He succeeded, for sure.  But his legacy will forever be as a madman who became a sore loser.  One reporter I listened to tonight called him a psychopath and a narcissist. 

All of this happened while I went to Central to do some beginning-of-the-month tasks.  I was actually very successful in the three hours I worked there, getting all seven accounts (three credit card and four bank accounts) reconciled with no issues.  I’ve still got lots more to do, especially since tax forms will be soon due.

After CUMC, I went to Kroger where I waited entirely too long just to find out my prescription wasn’t ready.  I had to hustle to pick up some groceries Lynn had asked me to get then get home in time for us to go to Bridgewater to pick up Jim’s truck where it had its state inspection.  Surprisingly, the 25 year old truck passed inspection with flying colors.  It will never have to be inspected again because after 25 years a vehicle can be classified as an antique which doesn’t require inspection. 

There were so many developments in Washington today in addition to the riot.  For one, Trump broke off with his most loyal best bud Mike Pence because Pence insisted on doing what he was required to do by the Constitution instead of what Trump wanted him to do.  Tonight, Twitter cut off Trump’s account until tomorrow and threatened to cut him off for good.  Even Melania’s chief of staff quit because of the insurrection. 

At least the news today wasn’t about COVID-19.  Unfortunately, the virus didn’t take a day off while all of this was going on.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 6            Infected                   Died

World               87,578,754           1,888,966

US                     21,822,396              369,448

Virginia               377,300                  5,226

Augusta County       3,759                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               116,247                 

            Augusta County        690

What?  Augusta County vaccinated a total of 19 people today?  What in the heck is going on?  Rockingham County has already vaccinated almost twice as many as Augusta.  Albemarle has nearly three times as many already vaccinated.

I’ve passed the 400 page mark in this blog.  That’s a lot of bologna! 

I did something today I rarely do—I finished reading a book.  It took me only two full days to read Being Mortal.  There were some good lessons in that book on how everyone should prepare for their own finality on this earth and how they should help loved ones who are facing it.

January 7, 2021

It’s a good thing I am on blood pressure medicine because I know my blood would otherwise be boiling today.  I am upset about so much which is happening.  As I’ve been expressing, I am distraught over the turtle-like speed at which vaccines are being administered.  I sent an e-mail today to Dr. Laura Kornegay who is the Director of the Central Shenandoah Health District with an office in Staunton.  Here is the content of that e-mail:

Dr. Kornegay,
I am a 70 year old resident of Augusta County.  I am greatly distressed at the rate at which residents like me are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  According to the VDH website, yesterday Augusta County vaccinated 19 people.  At that rate, it will take 3,977 days, or 10.9 years, to vaccinate all of Augusta’s 75,558 residents.  This is totally unacceptable.  The VDH website shows that Virginia has thus far been issued 481,550 vaccines but only administered 116,247 of them. What good do vaccines do sitting in refrigerators?
If I heard the news correctly this morning, the next group vaccinated in Virginia will be those age 75 and over which, of course, I am not.
I have compromising medical conditions and take Symbicort twice daily.  I have called the office of my Pulmonologist, Dr. Aklilu Degene, at Sentara Pulmonary in Harrisonburg but was told they do not have vaccinations to distribute.  

I’m sure you can understand my frustration.  My question is simple:  what can I do to get vaccinated?
It is so ironic that there are many in our country who can get the vaccine and choose to not take it while others, like me, anxiously await it and can’t get it.
Thank you for listening,

Joe Hill

296 Leaport Road

Mount Sidney VA

540-292-0237

I also called the Carilion office of my personal physician, Dr. James Lagrua, and inquired if they would be giving vaccinations.  I was told that they had no vaccines and probably wouldn’t be getting any. 

In the meantime, there’s all this bs going on regarding the siege yesterday by Trump’s supporters.  Yet I find comments on Facebook suggesting that it was Antifa or BLM proponents who instigated the insurrection.  The videos all over the television tell a different story.  Ordinarily one who doesn’t comment much on Facebook, I couldn’t sit back and keep my mouth shut.  So I made comments on two places.  First, son-in-law Andy Foy had made a very well written post calling for Trump to be impeached and for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th amendment to have him immediately removed from office.  I added this comment:

In addition to getting rid of Trump, I’d also propose that Ben Cline, Bob Good, and Morgan Griffith of Virginia also be removed from Congress for objecting to certifying Biden’s win.  Their actions, like those of the rioters were un-American.  Their votes came AFTER they witnessed the siege.

Then, a cousin of mine, Lansing Hill, had made a post about the riot in DC yesterday which said “In my 60 years, I’ve seen a lot.  Nothing compares to this.  Nothing.  I’m sickened and disgusted.  There is no justification for what’s happening.”  Yet some had responded to his post suggesting that Antifa and BLM were responsible for the violence.  I just couldn’t let that go, either, so I responded:

To those quick to point out other riots in America involving members of Antifa or BLM, I say that it is wrong to riot and destroy property no matter which group you are part of, including Trump supporters.  And, those who incite such destruction, such as a President who lies and pours gasoline on the fires of sedition, deserve to be held accountable for it.

Further, there was a post from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph saying that Northram planned to get all Virginians vaccinated by June.  To that I posted:

A lofty goal given that, according to the VDH website, yesterday Augusta County vaccinated 19 people.  At that rate, it will take 3,977 days, or 10.9 years, to vaccinate all of Augusta’s 75,558 residents.  Why is this progressing so slowly?

At this point I don’t know what will happen to Trump or what will happen in the next 13 days before Biden takes over.  I do know that we’re in a mess now, both with Trump and COVID-19.

Lynn has been asked to test some children in Rockingham County this spring.  She rightfully told those in charge of testing that she would be glad to do it if she could get vaccinated.  Supposedly, teachers are going to be in the next group to get vaccinated along with those 75 and older so perhaps she will be able to get hers that way.  She had previously called the School Board Office and asked to be put on the vaccination list.

A Facebook friend of Lynn’s made a suggestion that I followed up with today; I called the  Central Shenandoah Health District office to see if they had a waiting list for COVID-19 vaccinations.  I was told they did not but that they would send me some information via e-mail. I did not receive that e-mail and likewise did not receive a reply from Dr. Kornegay. More high blood pressure…

This morning I took down all of our exterior Christmas decorations, boxed everything up, the put them above the garage.  So 296 Leaport Road is back to normal viewing from the outside now with no extra lights.

More wackiness today from Washington:  many, including Tim Kaine, Chuck Shumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and even a Republic Congressman, Adam Kinzinger from Illinois, are calling for Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump unfit to hold office.  One of his Cabinet members, Mitch McConnell’s wife who was Secretary of Transportation, along with many staffers resigned today.  Question:  why did it take people so long to realize that Trump’s an idiot?

This afternoon I had to go back to Kroger to get my prescription.  I was forced to wait indoors for 15 minutes while the ten people in front of me in line got theirs.  I was very uncomfortable doing this but had no choice since this is the steroid, Symbicort, that I take twice per day for my asthma.  For a 60 day prescription, my cost was $393.00.  This is because I have a $450 deductible policy so the next five times I get this filled it won’t cost nearly that much.

COVID-19 didn’t pause during all the Trump theatrics.  According to ABC news, there were a record 3,865 new deaths from COVID-19 registered in the United States on Wednesday, marking the deadliest day since the start of the pandemic, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the second straight day that the country has logged a record number of fatalities from the disease within a 24-hour reporting period. Wednesday’s count tops the previous day’s peak of 3,775 deaths, Johns Hopkins data shows.  Meanwhile, 253,145 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed nationwide on Wednesday, marking the second consecutive day that the country has reported more than 200,000 newly confirmed infections. Wednesday’s tally is less than the all-time high of 297,491 new cases, which the country logged the previous day, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Here are the statistics from worldometers.org and the Virginia Department of Health:

January 7            Infected                   Died

World               88,388,598           1,904,287

US                     22,070,748              373,274

Virginia               382,679                  5,275

Augusta County       3,800                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               135,863                 

            Augusta County        869

Virginia had 5,300 new cases.  That is unheard of. 

According to Northram’s plan, those getting vaccinated now are in Group 1A which includes health care providers and residents of nursing homes.  Group 1B will include those over 75 plus teachers, and “frontline workers” such as EMS workers, policemen, firemen, postal workers, grocery workers, manufacturing workers, childcare workers, etc.  Group 1C is for those over 65 plus those with underlying health conditions.  I’m in that group.  God knows when we’ll get ours, if we live that long.   

I’m thinking again about my foxhole analogy.  Tonight I feel like the enemy is so close I can see their bayonets while my reinforcements are miles away and moving ever so slowly.  And when they come my foxhole will be one of the last they find.

January 8, 2021

There was a lot going on today and I missed much of it.  I worked at Central from 8:00 am straight through until 4:30 pm.  I had to pay federal and state taxes for the 4th quarter, then learn how to produce and file W2 forms for six employees (four current and two former).  By early afternoon I had done both.  I followed the examples by the forms submitted the past two years and got them OK, I think.  But then I ran into a problem.  I needed to set up payroll for the January 15 paychecks.  I got into a section of QuickBooks that I couldn’t exit from.  I found an online chat with a support person on the Intuit site but it took hours to adequately connect with him and have him help me with the issue.  By late afternoon we had the January 15 payroll set up OK.  It was very frustrating, though, and I was exhausted by the time this was done.

I wish I could say there’s nothing more to do with QuickBooks but there’s still more work to do.  I can probably wait until Monday to do the rest since I’ll have a deposit to make then.

At first I thought that leaving at 4:30 was a good time to leave but as soon as I got to the car I realized that Gus and Henry had basketball games tonight that were being livestreamed starting at 5:45.  I was supposed to take Lynn to the Old School food truck for our traditional Friday hamburgers but I got home too late for that.  Needless to say, she wasn’t very happy with me.  I just plain forgot about the ball games until it was too late.

This was the first basketball games of the season so it was our first experience with livestreaming.  We paid around $10 for the first month of this service but I’m not sure we’ll get our money’s worth.  The streaming was anything but smooth.  It frequently froze and buffered making it very frustrating to try to watch the game.

Gus didn’t get to play much at all in his JV game and his team got blown out.  They lost by 32 points, 54 – 22.  Their guards were terrible at being able to handle the ball and for some reason the coach didn’t play him until the 4th quarter.  There’s no way he would have done worse than the kids in there the first three quarters.

Henry’s varsity game was a different story.  He didn’t start but played a lot.  He scored 4 points on 2 for 2 shooting from the field.  He played good defense and got some rebounds as Fort beat Buffalo Gap 54 – 48.  Some of the game streamed just fine but we hardly could see any of the crucial 4th quarter.  I was not happy with the streaming but happy he played well and the team won.

The national news today was more of the same:  just about everyone anxious to get rid of Trump while the coronavirus runs rampant.   Trump has been banned from both Facebook and Twitter now.  He produced a video last night where he said the protesters shouldn’t have broken into the Capitol building and been violent but supposedly he later expressed to his close friends that he wished he hadn’t made that video because it angered some of his supporters.  Actually, most people think he made the video to perhaps keep his Cabinet from enacting the 25th Amendment on him and/or Congress impeaching him.  Supposedly, he’s also told others he plans to pardon himself before January 20.

Trump announced that he wouldn’t be coming to the January 20 inauguration.  I’m guessing everyone breathed a sigh of relief at that, especially Joe Biden.  What an embarrassment he has been to the nation and to his party.

ABC news didn’t forget about COVID-19 despite the Trump hoopla:  While millions were focused on Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, and the aftermath, the nation’s COVID-19 death toll soared to new heights.  Thursday, the third consecutive day of record U.S. deaths, was the deadliest so far, with 4,085 COVID-19 fatalities, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. had never before surpassed 4,000.  With a seven-day average of 2,758 deaths by Friday, at least 365,882 Americans have died from the virus, according to JHU, which equals 1 in every 905.

Here are today’s statistics:

January 8            Infected                   Died

World               89,355,919           1,922,052

US                     22,456,902              378,149

Virginia               387,917                  5,312

Augusta County       3,864                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                      148.909                      

            Augusta County        911

Virginia’s vaccinated numbers are actually lower:  142,061 have received at least one dose.  The higher numbers include those who have gotten both shots.  Augusta County got 42 people vaccinated today.  HORRIBLE!  Our health department is so inept—I haven’t even received an e-mail from them despite e-mailing the director asking her what I could do, calling the department and being told they would e-mail me information.  They’ve done nothing, not even sent an e-mail.  I sent the director another e-mail tonight.

January 9, 2021

The day didn’t start out good for me because Lynn was still seething over my coming home too late last night for us to get the hamburgers she wanted.  I honestly just forgot about the basketball games and actually thought that by leaving Central at 4:30 my timing was good for getting the burgers.  But I had forgotten that Gus’ game started at 5:45 so there just wasn’t any time to get them.  I can’t blame her for being angry at me.  I just get so consumed in work that I forget about everything else that is going on.

My memory is clearly not what it used to be.  I don’t think I have serious mental health issues but I just forget things too easily.  Yesterday when I was paying the 4th quarter taxes I remembered to take screen shots at each step so I could put the directions into the manual I’d written for the next CUMC treasurer.  But later in the day I discovered that I had taken the screen shots and put them in the manual when I did the 3rd quarter taxes.  I just didn’t remember having done it.  I paid our Costco bill twice last month because I didn’t remember paying it the first time. 

I think I’ve got lots of safeguards to help me with these issues.  One of them is writing this blog.  So when I forget, for example, the name of someone or someplace I’ve seen recently I can look it up here.  I’ve done that many times over the past ten months.  Lynn and I keep an accurate shared calendar which should help me remember what’s upcoming.  The basketball games were not on that calendar but I confess that I did not stop my work yesterday at CUMC to look at my calendar (or my phone, my e-mail, or my text messages, either).  Again, I just get so consumed in my work…

I also know that I’ve repeated myself in this blog at various times.  But I’ve always been a repeater—one who tells and retells the same story.  I think that’s attributable to my life as a math teacher where repetition is valued and important.  At least that’s my excuse!

For decades I’ve remembered this line about giving a lecture or talk, “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.”  Yes, repetition is built into my psyche, for sure.  Can you tell?

I made an exciting discovery today.  The NFHS network which is where the basketball games are streamed through, archives the games.  And, they have an iPad app which I downloaded.  I then was able to view last night’s games again and they played smoothly with no buffering or freezing.  We were finally able to see some of the 4th quarter which we could not last night.  And, the iPad can Air Play to our televisions as well.  This is really good news.  It was fun watching Henry score again and again (you can rewind and fast forward the recording).

A somewhat humorous Facebook post the other day caught my eye.  It said that finally with a Democratic President, Democratic Senate, and Democratic Congress, Trump had succeeded in “Making America Great Again.”  MAGA!

Dr. Kornegay finally replied to my e-mails this morning.  She sent me a link to a survey.  I quickly sent her a polite thank you for replying.  Then I clicked on the link.  It was a survey strictly for employers and organizations, not for individuals.  It said “This form is only for essential employers to notify the Health Department of your workplace specifics and how many public facing staff you have that would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19…This is not for individuals to fill out. You must be an employer responding on behalf of your organization.”  So I wrote her again (4th time), this time telling her that the survey she sent me to was clearly not for me; it was to determine which organizations should get their employees vaccinated.  I asked her if vaccinations were only intended for organizations or those who are employed….   She did send back an apology but this just shows how disorganized vaccine distributions are in the state.  There is no plan to gather information from or schedule vaccinations for individuals like me.  Lynn did hear from her Albemarle school rep, where she does the Migrant Education program, that all Albemarle employees are to be vaccinated so maybe she’ll get hers that way. 

This afternoon I watched the WVU – Texas basketball game.  Texas came into the game ranked 4th nationally; WVU was 14th.   West Virginia played a good first half and led 40 – 36 at that point.  The Mounties led the entire second half until 1 second to go when Texas hit a three pointer and took a 72 – 70 lead and the game.  WVU had just missed its previous three free throws.  Typical West Virginia—they can always find a way to lose.

Lynn and I bought our lottery tickets today.  The MegaMillions jackpot is now approaching $600 million; the drawing is next Tuesday night.  The Powerball jackpot is now $470 million; its drawing is tonight.  We bought two tickets for each. 

I honestly think that winning such an amount would bring a person more problems than luxuries.  I can’t imagine all the issues that would come from instantly having that much money.  What would I do if I won?  I’d begin by setting up trust funds for each of my eight grandchildren.  Maybe next I’d hire an accountant for Central so I wouldn’t have to spend too long there and get Lynn so mad at me.

Ann and Josh decided to come to our basement tonight with Freddie and Gus to use our streaming setup to watch basketball.  I thought they were coming over to watch Henry and Gus’ games from last night.  But it turns out that Gus had a JV game rescheduled to tonight at Wilson Memorial High School.  So they watched his game instead.  The streaming worked OK but not perfectly.  And, like last night, Gus only saw a couple of minutes of play.  I feel sorry for him; it would be different if he were on a fine team but the team is now 0 – 2.  He is 6’ 3” and would do well under the basket but the offense that FDHS runs has all of the players on the perimeter so frequently he is 20 feet from the basket when someone shoots.  So he has little chance to rebound and score.  I’ve disliked this offense for years; Henry’s JV team ran the same plays.  Plus, the Fort JV guards cannot handle the ball at all.  Lynn and I haven’t watched the game from tonight (we’ll watch it tomorrow or later) but last night the team must have had 30 turnovers.  Hard to watch… 

The COVID situation has no positive news again tonight.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 9            Infected                   Died

World               90,043,283           1,933,457

US                     22,688,965              381,367

Virginia               393,715                  5,381

Augusta County       3,942                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               167,452 (11,023 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1011

Augusta County vaccinated 100 people today.  Yet Augusta County also had 78 new cases.  Virginia administered 3,895 doses today but the state had 5,798 new cases!  Is this staying ahead of the game?   I think not.  Why are we not vaccinating people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  COVID is infecting people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Virginia is still only at 33% of all of the doses it has received have gotten into someone’s arm.  The other 67% have only gotten into some refrigerator.

The other news tonight is that there are an increasing number of politicians calling for the impeachment (again!) of Donald Trump.  It will likely happen in the House next week though the Senate won’t be convening until one day before Joe Biden is inaugurated.  Who knows what will happen in the next 11 days.  Actually, the impeachment may continue after Biden takes over.  We’ll just have to see how this works out.  One Facebook post I read said “if we can approve a Supreme Court Justice in one week then we can impeach him in one week.”  Of course, that reference was to the way the Republicans pushed through the nomination of Trump’s nominee Amy Comey Barrett to the Supreme Court.  Stay tuned!

January 10, 2021

Lynn got a phone call from our neighbor Debra Sheffer this morning.  Debra told her how she had been walking by a house where Lynn and I have walked scores of times, the Michael’s house which is about 8/10ths of a mile from our house.  This is the house that has the pig, Winnie, that actually lives inside the house.  They also have a couple of dogs which are usually tied up but sometimes not.  One of the dogs is named Remy which we learned from its owner, Lacey.  Remy has always growled at us but whenever we’d say “Remy Go Home!” it would not come close.  Others had told us that the dog had intimidated them.  Well, Debra relayed that when she walked by there yesterday the dog bit her so badly she had to be taken to the emergency room for stitches. 

The house is on the walk that we have made almost daily except for when Lynn broke her foot or the weather was bad.  So this incident will definitely change our walking habits in the near future.  The Sheffers called Animal Control so we’re not sure what will come of Remy.  I would be very happy to learn that the dog is no longer at the house.

Debra later let Lynn know that Animal Control had taken the dog so we knew it was safe to walk past the house again.  So this afternoon we bundled up and did our standard two mile walk.

There wasn’t much else going on today—lots of news about impeaching Trump.  One interesting idea I saw one Democratic Congressman propose was to impeach him in the House immediately next week but wait until Biden had been in office for 100 days before passing it on to the Senate.  That would give Biden time to get his Cabinet appointed and other priorities going because once the Senate takes up the impeachment everything else will grind to a halt.  Personally, I like this plan because it will still accomplish the mission of making Trump ineligible to hold federal office again and will make Trump sweat for 100 days.  One interesting comment I heard one reporter pass on was that in a normal hearing, witnesses certainly are not allowed to be in the jury but in the case of this impeachment every Senator was a witness to the riot.

It took the White House until today to lower their flag to half mast in respect to the policeman who lost his life in the siege.  And that only happened after lots of bad publicity came about.  Supposedly, the only thing Trump is sorry for is making his one video in which he condemned violence. 

Supposedly, those in group 1B are to start receiving vaccinations very soon.  That includes educators, front line workers, and those over age 75.  So there’s a chance Lynn will be getting hers in this group.  She got an e-mail from Rockingham County Schools Superintendent Oskar Scheikl who told them the vaccinations were coming though he didn’t have a date yet.  Supposedly, the school system is going to put out a survey to find out who does and does not want to be vaccinated.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 10          Infected                   Died

World               90,638,389           1,942,107

US                     22,900,907              383,186

Virginia               398,856                  5,383

Augusta County       3,996                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               177,945 (12,747 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1097

Augusta County is still proceeding at an unacceptable slow rate of vaccinations.  Only 86 people were vaccinated today.  Do the math:  there are over 75,000 people in Augusta County.  We’ve been averaging many fewer than 100 vaccinations per day.  At 100 per day it will take over 6 years to get everyone vaccinated. 

January 11, 2021

This being Monday, my first job today was to go to Central UMC for the weekly deposit.  I also had several items left from last Friday to finish since the new year was starting.  I was able to get right to the tasks and got everything done that I had planned by 10:30 AM.  I did bring some work home with me on a USB stick; I had taken lots of screen shots when I did the tax work on Friday and wanted to update my QuickBooks manual to include these screenshots with the directions. 

I was able to work on the basement iMac in the afternoon and get the directions put in for the federal tax section.  I’ll do the state another day.  That manual is already pushing 100 pages in length.

It was too cold to walk today; Lynn and I had walked yesterday but decided to not go out today.  The next few days look very promising for walking, though.

Lynn had a Zoom meeting this morning and worked in the afternoon on getting her teacher recertification application finished.  She has to submit it to her former principal, Kenny Boyers at Cub Run Elementary, and hopes to get that done soon.  This will give her ten more years of teaching, if she wants.  Of course, she only does it part time now.

The news today, as it has been for nearly a week now, was all about impeaching Trump.  A proposal to do so was introduced to the House today; they are supposed to vote on it on Wednesday.  With a big Democratic majority in the House, it will likely pass but then what?  The Senate wouldn’t take it up until January 19 at the earliest.  He leaves office on January 20.  I still like the idea I wrote about yesterday where they hold off delivering it to the Senate until after Biden has gotten his agenda and Cabinet in place, perhaps about 100 days into his Presidency.

For dinner tonight, we went to Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird and brought home a Soprano pizza.  We had called it in on the way there which worked well.  That pizza is so good!  We ate less than half of it for dinner tonight so we’ll be eating well tomorrow night, too.

Henry had a basketball game tonight at Waynesboro.  The JV game had been postponed, supposedly because the Waynesboro JV team had an outbreak of COVID-19.  So the varsity game was moved to 6:00 which made for a convenient time for Lynn and me to watch it, especially since I had plans to watch the NCAA football championship game between Alabama and Ohio State at 9:00.

The game’s video stream from Waynesboro High was another strange one.  For some reason, on all games we’ve watched there is no person doing the play-by-play.  On Henry’s last game there was a running score across the bottom of the screen though it was almost never accurate.  For the game tonight, there was nothing.  So we had video, no announcer, and no score.  I had to keep up with the score on my computer.  It would seem to me that some high school kid would have fun doing the play-by-play announcing.  It might even lead to some future career.   A high school kid from this area would have a much higher chance to have a career as a tv announcer than the kids on the floor have at being a professional basketball player.

Before the game, Waynesboro introduced its senior players (Fort Defiance had done the same at its first game last week).  They had seven seniors out of the eleven boys who dressed—that’s a lot.  One of them was a transfer from Fort Defiance over the summer.   They appeared to be much taller than Fort’s team.

Henry didn’t start but was inserted pretty early in the first quarter and played much of it.  Ryan Cook is a very good guard for FDHS.  He scored all 12 of Fort’s points in the first quarter.  The score was 12 – 12 then.  In the second quarter, FDHS did well, moving the lead out to 30 – 18 at the half.  Poor Waynesboro is huge but they can’t shoot worth a lick.  Reminds me of WVU!  Henry got in near the end of the quarter and played well though he didn’t have a chance to score. 

In the third quarter, Fort kept its lead despite Ryan’s nose getting bloodied and having to sit out for a while.  Henry got two points on a nice fast break layup.  He didn’t play much in the 4th quarter; FDHS didn’t need him as they cruised to a 56 – 44 win despite shooting horribly from the free throw line.  Fort is 2-0 for the season!  I’d have to say that Waynesboro’s team is very poor, especially for a school which has a good basketball tradition.

The US is averaging more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths per day.  Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 11          Infected                   Died

World               91,252,121           1,951,508

US                     23,109,737              384,947

Virginia               403,386                  5,393

Augusta County       4,031                       31

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               189,283  (15,130 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        1,178

Virginia had another 4,500 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County got only 81 more people vaccinated today.  The only good news for me is that I got three e-mails from the Central Shenandoah Health Department today about the vaccine.  Two were just informational but one was from a man, Jordan Good, whose title was COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator who said he’d be sure to get me on the list though my group wasn’t scheduled to be vaccinated yet.  I have a feeling I’m going to be e-mailing this man again expressing my disdain…

January 12, 2021

This morning I got an e-mail from the Central Shenandoah Health Department inviting me to fill in an online form regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.  I did and so did Lynn.  The form didn’t have anything significant in it and, of course, provided no new information as to when vaccines would be available.

Later in the morning, I learned that the CDC made a change to its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccinations.  Here is what CNBC said: 

The Trump administration on Tuesday will issue new guidelines that expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone age 65 and older, a senior official told CNBC.  The states’ focus on vaccinating health-care workers and nursing homes has created a bottleneck, the administration official said. “The states are being told immediately they need to expand to 65-plus as well as those under 65 with comorbid conditions,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal announcement.  The administration will also stop holding back millions of doses reserved for the second round of shots of  Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines, the official said, adding they released doses that had been held in reserve on Sunday.

I immediately sent two e-mails to our local health department asking them if that means that people in my age group, 65-74, would now be moved into the priority group 1B instead of 1C.  Right now, supposedly they are finishing vaccinating people in group 1A, those on the front line of health care.  I didn’t pull back any punches in my e-mail, writing: 

My wife and I have both completed the survey.  However, given the news today that the CDC is revising its recommendations to states to now prioritize those 65 and over, will Group 1B now include those 65 and over instead of 75 and over?  If so, what are your plans to expedite this process?  

Plus, Augusta County vaccinated 81, 86, 100, 42, 179, 19, and 63 people in the past week according to the VDH site.  That’s a total of 570 vaccinations.  There are nearly 76,000 residents in the county.  Surely you know that if this rate continues it will take many years, not a few months, to get everyone vaccinated.  Can this not be sped up?  You need to have 24/7 vaccination clinics.

Then, I pasted in the CNBC article about ages 65 and over to confirm what I had written about in the first paragraph.

I didn’t really expect a reply though I did get back an auto-reply that said “Due to increased volume of requests from the community, you may experience a delay in our response to your email.”

Poor Lynn spent most of the day doing an online First Aid class she was required to finish in order to get her teaching certificate renewed.  It was not fun for her at all—it was boring and forced her to do lots of fake hands-on activities.  I told her that, having completed it, she should be considered as a First Responder and thus be eligible for her COVID-19 vaccination in group 1A.

I spent a lot of time this morning working on my QuickBooks manual.  Yesterday I got the sections done about doing the quarterly Federal 941 forms and the annual chore of doing the Federal W-2 forms.  Today I completed the section for the State W-2 and VA-6 forms.  I only have a little to do to finish the manual—the section about what needs to be done to start a new year.  I’ve done those tasks for 2021 but didn’t make screen shots so I’ll re-trace my steps and take the screen shots sometime in the near future.  There aren’t many tasks that need to be done.

The weather was as nice today as it is going to be in mid-January with lots of sun and highs in the mid to high 40’s.  We were able to get in a walk after Lynn finished her long online class.  It was actually very pleasant outside.  I can tell I’m not in the shape I was months ago—walking two miles now tires me a bit.  But it still felt good to be outside.  Actually, we didn’t walk until I made a phone call to Augusta County Animal Control.  I wanted to know if the dog that had bitten Debra Sheffer had been returned to the owners.  They said no and it would not be which meant that it was safe for us to walk our normal hike.

Freddie was back in regular school today and his bus brought him here this afternoon.  Josh was here to pick him up.   It was nice to get back to that routine, even if it is only for two days each week.  Freddie was happy that his teacher is back now after a maternity leave.  I pitched a football with him for a while and was very pleased at how well he threw and caught it.

Tonight was the third basketball game for both Henry and Gus.  The two came into their games with opposite early experiences.  Gus’ JV squad is 0 – 2 and he has gotten to play very little.  Henry’s varsity team is 2 – 0 and he has played roughly 50% of the time.  Both played Riverheads. 

In Gus’ game, he didn’t get to play the entire first quarter.  His teammates played poorly and fell behind 7 – 2 at the end of the quarter.  After a couple of minutes into the second quarter, Gus got to play.  His team made a good comeback and went ahead 16 – 13 at half.  Gus didn’t score but rebounded and played defense well.  To start the third quarter, he was back on the bench.  Shortly thereafter, Riverheads went up 17 – 16.  Then Fort got hot and took a 27 – 19 lead at the end of the third quarter.  Gus saw some action near the end of the quarter.   He stayed in to start the 4th quarter and continued to do well, hitting a nice baseline jumper to add to the lead.  He got several rebounds but the coach took him out when he picked up his third foul.  The JV’s won their first game of the season, 32 – 21.

Henry doesn’t start on the varsity team though I think he should.  Of course, he’s only a sophomore.  He got in after about four minutes and quickly hit a nice left hander then buried a three pointer.  The Indians were down 10 – 8 at the end of the quarter and he had 5 of the 8 points.  See what I mean that he should be starting?  He scored again in the second quarter and Fort narrowly clung to a 20 – 19 lead at half.  He was 3 – 3 from the field in the half.  But the third quarter was disastrous for them.  Cold shooting led to a 38 – 30 lead for Riverheads.  Henry played some but definitely not enough.  When he was in, he rebounded and passed well.  I can’t understand why the coach takes him out and puts in players that have no chance of scoring and don’t play good defense.  Henry got back in with 5:38 to go but they were down 42 – 32 by then.  Fort hit two three pointers, the second with 1:44 left, after being down 9 which made it 47 – 44.  They had the ball twice more and missed a shot that would have tied it but then fumbled it away on a few other possessions in the last minute.  They lost 50 – 47. Henry had 9 points.  Fort’s star player Ryan Cook had an off game. 

I’ve watched a lot of CNN over the past week since the news has been so hot lately.  Today’s news was about the impending impeachment of the President.  And, it included a clip of him getting ready to go to Texas to visit the border wall he built (with US taxpayer funds, not Mexico’s).  Before he left, he said that his comments right before the riot were “appropriate” and claimed he had been told that by others.  I don’t know what others he is talking about because everyone in the news including plenty of people from both sides of the political aisle, have called his comments seditious. 

In today’s COVID-19 report:

January 12          Infected                   Died

World               91,972,691           1,968,351

US                     23,358,156              389,424

Virginia               407,947                  5,477

Augusta County       4,060                       34

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                     200, 402 (19,086 of whom got 2nd dose)        

            Augusta County        1,321 (130 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County had 3 more people die of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and currently has 93 people hospitalized with it.  Though the vaccinated numbers picked up a little with 143 vaccinated, still less than 2% of Augusta County’s population has received even one shot.  If we expect herd immunity at some time, then we’ve got to get the number vaccinated much higher than those newly infected. 

January 13, 2021

The video streaming service broadcasts of the boys’ basketball games isn’t perfect though the last couple of games have worked better for us.  We’ve learned that the best way to stream the games is through my iPad which we then use AirPlay to transfer to our large TV downstairs.  The service hasn’t figured out yet how to sync their broadcast with the score so I’ve just maintained my own scorebook.  Regardless of these minor problems, it is still turning out to be a very nice way for us to see Henry and Gus play.  We don’t have to travel or pay entrance fees.  We can lounge in the comfort of our family room and even play the games over and over if we want.  Lynn called FDHS yesterday to thank them for the service and to let them know we’d like for them to get the clock and scoreboard synced better.  The Athletic Director said they were working on the issue.  The next games will be Friday night.

Lynn has been working on getting all of her recertification papers together so she can remain as a licensed teacher.  She needs to do that in order to keep her position with Rockingham County as a part-time ELL testing person.  If it is approved, she will be re-licensed for ten more years which is all she’ll ever need.  She has them all ready to turn in to her former principal, Kenny Boyers at Cub Run.  I suggested that she should scan them so she’d retain a copy of all she submits.  Today I took them all to the basement where our HP printer/scanner is.  The process worked great!  She had the papers separated into five or six paper-clipped sections, each with 8 – 12 pages in them.  I scanned them to a USB drive in these sections, feeding through the document feeder.  It worked very, very well.  I transferred the documents to her computer and the downstairs iMac so she now has a good backup of everything she’s submitting.  Instead of having a big manila file folder of information, it is all now combined into five or six PDF documents.  That printer/scanner has served us well.

By the way, my licensure to teach in Virginia expired in 2020.  I have no plans of trying to get it renewed.  I do think I’d enjoy teaching again, perhaps a FDHS course, but I’m not about to go through the tedium she’s done to get her recertification.

Today’s weather was even better than yesterday’s.  Lynn had made arrangements to walk with Ginny Bauman in the afternoon.  She walked two miles with her then later walked 1 ½ more with me. 

While Lynn was walking with Ginny they talked to Lacey, the owner of the dog that bit Debra Sheffer.  She told Lynn that the dog had been put down.  I’m not too sorry to hear that.

I spent too much time today listening to the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives.  The speeches, usually one or two minutes in length, went on and on.  They were quite repetitious.  I really can’t believe the blind manner in which many Republicans still follow their deranged leader.  Yet the vote was 231 – 197 to impeach Trump with 10 Republicans siding with all of the Democrats who voted to impeach him.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 13          Infected                   Died

World               92,678,975           1,984,316

US                     23,573,585              393,251

Virginia               412,545                  5,552

Augusta County       4,151                       36

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                     216, 257 (22,985 of whom got 2nd dose)        

            Augusta County        1,390 (164 of whom got 2nd dose)

I keep looking for good news here but there is none.  Augusta County only vaccinated 79 more people in the past 24 hours.  Yet five more have died in the past two days.  There were 91 new cases.  So they can’t even vaccinate more people than those who get infected each day.   And did I get a reply from my two e-mails asking if I would be moved to category 1B?  Of course not.  I guess they were too busy vaccinating people – NOT.   And look at where the vaccines are going:  Virginia has received 904,400 vaccines but only administered 216,257 of them.  They’re going to refrigerators, not people.

I’m going to have to start cutting back on eating.  This morning I got on the scales for the first time in weeks and found that I have gained a little over six pounds since the start of the pandemic.  But lately the food has been so good!  Tonight Lynn made delicious Spanish Rice and we had leftover Vito’s pizza.  Plus, she made some new cakes from a recipe Ann gave her involving grapefruit juice.  They are really good, too.

For fun, after dinner tonight we went to the 7 – 11 in Verona and bought two MegaMillions and Powerball tickets.  Don’t ask me what we’d do if we won $550,000,000!

January 14, 2021

We got some good news last night from Elizabeth Jiminez.  Her husband Gilberto Aguirre is doing much better, is taking rehab now, and will be released to come home soon.  He still can’t have visitors yet, though.  She also confided with Lynn that a few weeks ago she received a phone call from the hospital that his lungs had collapsed and she should arrange to say her last good-bye to him.  Understandably, Elizabeth gives high praise to God for his recovery.  This is another example of prayers answered.

Well, we didn’t win the Powerball lottery last night but neither did anyone else.  So now the jackpot for the next draw is $650,000,000.  What in the world would you do if you won that?  You’d have to assume a new identity somewhere like those in witness protection.

I’m trying to keep up the pressure on those who are working with COVID-19 vaccinations.  Last night, in his State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Northram said “They authorized states to go ahead and start vaccinating people age 65 and up. We’ll be moving forward with that quickly—I’ll be talking to local health directors and hospitals tomorrow about how we make this happen.”  So today I called the Virginia Department of Health number to ask why their website still has people in the 65+ age category in Group 1C whereas those in the 75+ category are in 1B.  I was on hold for a long time before I finally got through to someone. 

Actually I had been transferred to 211-Virginia.  A nice lady came on the line and was fully aware of what the Governor had said and the changes from the CDC.  She told me that people in my age group should be moved into group 1B just as I had asked.  She said the website would likely reflect that tomorrow.  I’ll believe that when I see it.  Of course, Augusta County is still vaccinating people only in the 1A group.  I’m going to continue my pressure until I have a sore arm from the shot.

This afternoon Governor Northram had a press conference about COVID-19.  He said just what I wanted him to say—that people in age 65 and older would be moved to group 1B and that the state had to do a better job of getting vaccines into arms.  He also said that every vaccine that had been received in the state had been delivered to the localities.  In other words, we know for sure where the fault lies now—our local health department which only vaccinates about 75 people each day. 

Freddie came on the bus again today, as he will likely do the rest of the year unless Augusta County Schools changes its program.  The weather was really nice outside for January 14 so we shot basketball until Josh came.  I enjoy his company!

Lynn and I also walked two miles today.  It felt good.  This weather has been unseasonably nice but, unfortunately, according to the forecast today is to be our last warm day.  The upcoming week isn’t supposed to be frigid, just seasonable meaning the highs will be in the 40’s.  Today it neared 50.

Lynn’s Cheryl friends came over this morning so I went to Central.  I got my entire QuickBooks manual finished, printed, and inserted into the notebook.  Whenever it is time for me to give up my treasurer’s duties, the next person should have a guide to learn from.  The document is 96 pages long.

I called my sister today to check on her.  She sounded better on the phone today than she has in years.  She was alert, witty, and said she felt fine.  She is so happy to have that new grandson.  Speaking of him, we got a nice text from Vic today thanking us for the blanket Lynn made for him plus the books we sent.  He sent along a picture of little Denny wrapped in the blanket.

Lynn had read somewhere that vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are all a preventative from adverse reactions to COVID-19.  So for the past ten days or so I’ve been taking one of her multi-vitamins which contains vitamin C and zinc plus a vitamin D pill.  She’s been taking them daily for years.  I figured they couldn’t hurt.

Tonight Jim send a text message to our Family group that he was registered to be vaccinated for COVID on January 20.  I’m jealous! 

Here are today’s statistics:

January 14          Infected                   Died

World               93,455,201           2,000,349

US                     23,811,054              397,347

Virginia               417,839                  5,626

Augusta County       4,195                       39

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               242,530 (27,429 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,591 (224 of whom got 2nd dose)

The news above is really bad.  Virginia had over 5,000 new cases and 74 new deaths.  Augusta County had three more deaths and 96 currently hospitalized.  Staunton City has 42 deaths thus far with less than 2,000 cases.  Rockingham County has almost 5,000 cases total and 57 dead.  Harrisonburg has almost 5,000 cases and 50 dead.  The only bright spot is that Augusta County finally vaccinated more than 200 people in one day. 

Lynn got word today that her uncle B. B. Hanger died yesterday.  He was living at The Legacy with his wife, Jo Lee.  He was the last of the Hanger family to go.  We had traveled to Alaska with him and Jo Lee back in 2006.

What has our country come to?  There are more troops now surrounding the Capitol in DC than the number of soldiers in Afghanistan.  By next week, in addition to thousands of policemen where are supposed to be 20,000 National Guard.  Many Congressmen are going back home fearing for their lives.  City leaders throughout the US have been told to brace for violence.  Trump has still not taken any responsibility for the violence on January 6.  You have to wonder when, not if, there will be someone in power killed by one of the thousands of wild people like those who lay siege to the Capitol.  Guns are so easy to get and, apparently, minds are so easy to be warped.

January 15, 2021

I got one piece of news I’d been looking for this morning:  the Virginia Department of Health changed its website so that people age 65 and over are now in Group 1B.  Our health department is still vaccinating people in group 1A but other sections of Virginia are already in Group 1B—that’s why Jim got his appointment.  Teachers are in 1B. 

The medical experts say that those who are vaccinated not only have a 95% chance of not getting COVID-19 but even if they do get it their case will likely be very mild.  Maybe the reinforcements are getting nearer to my foxhole.  But the enemy is, too—ABC said this morning that the number of deaths this past week due to coronavirus are 25% higher than they have been at any time during this pandemic.

Lynn and I went to Costco during senior hour this morning.  We had several things to get and Central UMC had given me a rather long list of items they wanted.  We were successful in getting everything and the store wasn’t crowded.

Afterwards we went by The Legacy and left a flower nnd card for Jo Lee Hanger.  B.B.’s obituary was on the Coffman Funeral Home site; he was 96 years old.  All of that family lived a long time! 

We then stopped by Central and dropped off all of the items we had purchased.  All were for the custodian, Janet.

Gus and Henry each were scheduled to play basketball tonight at Stuarts Draft High School but the NFHS site, the streaming site, didn’t list their games though it did list lots of others.  Lynn called the school and was told that the games were still scheduled and the lady who took her call said she’d notify the Athletic Director.  We didn’t want to miss one second of their games!  Finally they showed up online.

I’m not sure why but the price of gasoline has risen significantly over the past week.  We’d been paying around $1.95 per gallon but Costco’s price today was $2.33.  I’m sure the Republicans will say that’s the result of electing Biden.  If this is so, then it was worth it.

It was chilly today and rainy in the late afternoon.  But before the rain got here Lynn and I got in our two mile walk.  We were bundled up well and it wasn’t too bad. 

Today was Friday so we returned to our tradition of getting hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  We ate early since we wanted to watch Gus’ game which started at 5:45.

After we ate, Ann, Josh, and Freddie came over to watch the games.  We had a setup where Ann connected to the game on her phone then projected it to the downstairs television via AirPlay.  She did so through our WiFi.  Meanwhile, Lynn and I connected to the network using Verizon on my iPad.  I had turned WiFi off on the iPad so we wouldn’t be competing for bandwidth with Ann.  The only drawback was that we couldn’t use AirPlay to connect to our tv upstairs since we had turned WiFi off.  So, Lynn and I didn’t get the benefit of a big screen through we were able to see the games OK on the iPad.  This way, we were able to keep socially distant yet still both families could see the games.

The JV game was hard to watch.  Fort led the entire first half and built up a 38 – 31 lead with about 4 minutes left.  Gus had played a good bit, scored four points, and got lots of rebounds.  But at the 4 minute juncture of the game he had been taken out.  Over the last four minutes, with Gus on the bench, Stuarts Draft scored 14 points and Fort didn’t score.  The Fort guards threw the ball away, then threw it away, then threw it away.  Over and over again they turned the ball over.  Gus later said it was six consecutive times they turned it over.  They are just poorly taught and coached.  Gus should feel good about his play.

In the Varsity game, Henry didn’t start though I think he should.  Henry has been the second highest scorer in two of their three games yet he didn’t play a second of the first quarter.  Explain that.  At least Fort was up 16 – 10 at the end of the first.  He played most of the second quarter, scored two points, and Fort grabbed a 26 – 19 lead at the half.  At the end of the third, Fort had moved out to a 42 – 30 lead and Henry had 8 points.  The final score was 54 – 36.  Henry had 10—his first time in double digits.  Not bad at all for a sophomore! Fort is 3 – 1 now.

When I think about it, it is amazing that the boys are able to play interscholastic basketball with COVID-19 so rampant.  So many other things have been canceled.  They play in a large gymnasium with only 20 – 25 fans present. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 15          Infected                   Died

World               94,245,418           2,016,069

US                     24,076,290              401,469

Virginia               422,634                  5,656

Augusta County       4,225                       39

            Vaccinated

            Virginia             268,4430 (30,475 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,647 (233 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County vaccinated 56 people today.  Terrible!!  Lynn did get an e-mail from Rockingham County Schools with details about when those employees, including her, would be vaccinated starting January 27.   They’re going to do all of the vaccinations at the four high schools, one per week, on Wednesdays, starting at Spotswood High School.  So it seems that Rockingham has some plans.  Apparently Augusta does not.

January 16, 2021

The morning took an unexpected frantic turn when, while we were taking food to Lynn’s student Juan Pablo in Waynesboro, I got an e-mail from Bill Bushman with directions for signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine at Augusta Health.  He said it was legitimate and that he and Martha had signed up and gotten their confirmations.  While coming home I got a similar text from Jim Printy saying to sign up quickly; spots were going fast.  I drove home faster than I should have then put my typing skills to good use.  Lynn and I immediately signed up for next Friday, the 22nd, at 8:20 AM. 

The site says this will be the Pfizer vaccine.  We had to fill in various information on the online form then we got to pick our time.  The earliest available on Friday was the 8:20 slot.  We then forwarded the e-mail to everyone we thought would be interested.  The form said it was only for 75 and over but we were told by others to ignore that so we did.  Other friends said they signed up for times on Wednesday and Thursday so I guess we’ll find out if there’s anything not Kosher with this before our time comes.

I sure hope this is legitimate!  Lots of our friends also signed up.  Then I had another moment of euphoria—I read that the Pfizer 2nd dose is 21 days after the first.  If we get our first dose on January 22 then our follow up would be February 12.  From February 15 – 18 we are booked at the Greenbrier.  We made these reservations back in December, hoping that by then we would have at least one of our vaccination shots.  But if we can actually get them both prior that will make for one enjoyable week at the Greenbrier.

Today I also discovered that the Waynesboro News-Virginian had online coverage of local high school basketball just like all newspapers used to.  There was a nice article about the FDHS game last night, complete with pictures, some of Henry.  I immediately completed the online subscription for a year—it was only $26.00.  The digital version also had articles for the previous games, some with box scores.  The only downer to this was when we were in Waynesboro we bought a print copy of today’s News-Virginian expecting to see the article in print form but it was not there. 

WHSV had videos from last night’s game, too.  Henry was mentioned by name on the news as it showed him scoring off an in-bounds play.  It took me a while but I found out how to download the video which I then uploaded to my Vimeo account.  But before I posted it so others could see it I wrote to the WHSV reporter who posted it and asked for his permission.  I just wanted to do this right.

Here’s why I am hesitant to believe we really will be vaccinated next Friday:  today I got an e-mail from the Central Shenandoah Health Department, the place that’s supposed to be coordinating all of the vaccinations in our part of Virginia.  In part, it said, “Beginning, Monday, January 18th, the Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) will make available closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for “Phase 1b” priority groups…. CSHD is also working with our healthcare partners such as hospital systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s), and 10 local pharmacies throughout the district to start vaccinating persons aged 65 and up. More details about these PODs for persons 65 and up will be available soon.”  It’s almost like they didn’t know that Augusta Health was already scheduling vaccinations.  The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing!

I do know that the number of spots posted for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday filled up.  Lynn’s sister Kay waited until this evening to try to sign up but found that there were no spots available.  She has already had COVID-19 so she wasn’t too upset, figuring that she had an immunity already. 

With cautious optimism, Lynn and I celebrated tonight.  After our dinner, we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.   We’re going to try to be especially careful this coming week.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Virginia is just awful:  6,757 new cases in just one day:

January 16          Infected                   Died

World               94,899,870           2,029,380

US                     24,292,811              405,177

Virginia               429,391                  5,706

Augusta County       4,297                       41

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               295,202 (32,059 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,769 (234 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County did a little better than normal, vaccinating 122 more people.  Assuming the Augusta Health schedule is correct, that number will increase.  The schedule we signed up for on Friday, January 22, had 3-4 people scheduled every 5 minutes, 8:00 – 12:00 and 1:00 – 5:00, for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Augusta County currently has 99 people hospitalized with coronavirus.  Tonight I’m feeling mighty lucky to have been able to avoid it for the past ten months.  If only I can make it one more week to get that first vaccination, followed by dose #2 three weeks later!

Nineteen states now have evidence of the United Kingdom mutation of COVID-19.  Virginia is not currently one of them.

Lynn’s back is still not healed.  Almost every afternoon she lies down to rest it.  She says she no longer gets the sharp pangs of pain but it just gets tired and hurts after she has sat in a hard chair for any period of time.  When she is in bed, she can’t lie on her back long.  So one of the things she wants to do once she has been vaccinated is to have a doctor check it out.   She also is supposed to get a bone density test which she has put off until after the vaccination.

Today’s weather was not pretty.  It was cold, windy, and we had blowing snow for parts of the day.  Ann was out shopping during one squall and told us the roads were quite slick.  Thankfully she got home OK.   Before then, I did a trash run which was slowed a little because I had to jump the truck to get it started.  I’ll probably need to get its battery replaced sometime this coming week.

The MegaMillions jackot is now $850 million and the Powerball jackpot is $650 million.  The Powerball drawing is tonight and the MegaMillions is on Tuesday.  We have our tickets for both!  Of course, this is just for fun. 

In tonight’s news, Trump wants his exit from the White House on Wednesday morning to be an elaborate military ceremony with red carpet and “Hail to the Chief.”  I’d think handcuffs would be more in order.   He’s going to in Florida by the time the Inauguration starts.

The news also said by Inauguration Day on Wednesday Washington would have more than 25,000 troops, five times the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  ABC said some of the rioters arrested for the January 6 siege were asking for a pardon from Trump, saying they were just following his orders. 

January 17, 2021

I knew it was too good to be true.  This morning the Staunton newspaper had an article about COVID-19 vaccinations in our area.  It says clearly that the vaccinations to begin on January 21 are for ages 75 and up.  Now I am very upset:  did I by signing up yesterday take someone else’s place?  Why would the site allow someone not eligible to register?  I looked back at the e-mail Bill Bushman had forwarded.  There were two people besides him who had written that the 75 and over requirement had been changed to 65 and over.  Many of our friends who registered are under 75.  I guess we’ll find out on Wednesday when they go for their vaccine if they are turned away or not.

I have a fairly strong sense of right and wrong.  Yesterday, when I first read the notice from Denise Moran, Governance & Executive Office Coordinator at Augusta Health and saw that it said 75 and over, I tried to call her office since her phone number was listed on the letter.  Lynn and I must have tried the number five or six times.  I wanted to see if the 75 and over sentence was wrong in light of the changes at CDC and VDH.  There was no answer.  And when we both saw that others had said that the 75 and over had been changed to 65 and over, we both went ahead and registered.

The CDC changed its guidelines to 65; the Virginia Department of Health lowered its requirements for Group 1B to 65 and over.  So it makes sense that we should believe that we were eligible for this vaccination.  The newspaper article today made it sound like the Health Department had decided to begin with those 75 and over.  So now I am in a quandary.

If we have to cancel our appointments I will be enraged.  The Health Department has bungled this from the beginning as I’ve written about for days.  If we’re not forced to cancel, are we wrong in taking a spot that someone 75 and over should have?  This should not be an either-or problem; vaccines should be for everyone and everyone as soon as they can be administered.  As I wrote before, Augusta Health and the Central Shenandoah Valley Health Department should be doing vaccinations seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

If they are only going to vaccinate those 75 and over, then the e-mail from Denise Moran should have made it clear that there was another plan for those between 65 and 75.  Her e-mail did specifically say that those dates were for 75 and over but keep in mind that it was just on Friday morning that VDH changed their website to say that people 65 and over were in Group 1B.  Her e-mail was originally dated on Friday, the same day these changes were made.

Today was Lynn’s uncle B.B. Hanger’s funeral.  It was a family graveside service at Mount Tabor Lutheran’s cemetery.  We went but kept our distance.  The weather was quite cold but there were still around 30 people there, mostly family.  The Hanger family is such a good family.  There are no bad eggs in the Hanger basket.

At the funeral, Donna Morris gave Lynn her binding system which allows you to bind papers together with a plastic spline.  Lynn had asked for it because I had scanned newspaper articles from her Dad’s young days as a baseball and basketball star plus his days in the service during World War II.  She wanted to give copies to all of her siblings plus Donna and our three children.  So this afternoon I printed eight copies of the scanned documents.  Lynn will be binding them together sometime this week, I suppose.

Lynn heard from some of her friends who also had registered for the COVID-19 vaccines and, like us, are under 75 years old.  One friend, who resides in Albemarle County, was called today and told because she lived outside the area and was under 75 they were cancelling her appointment.  Throughout the day Lynn and I awaited our phone call telling us that ours, too, would be canceled but the call didn’t come—yet.  I know I’ll be writing about this all week.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 17          Infected                   Died

World               95,430,206           2,038,575

US                     24,458,082              407,050

Virginia               439,305                  5,729

Augusta County       4,323                       41

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               316,812 (33,470 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,879 (239 of whom got 2nd dose)

Virginia had almost 10,000 new cases in just one day!  Augusta County now has 100 people hospitalized yet only 2.4% of its population vaccinated.  As a comparison, Albemarle County has a population of 109,000 yet they have vaccinated 5,275 people.  Augusta County has a population of 76,000 yet only 1,879 have been vaccinated.  When (If) I do get that phone call telling me that my appointment has been canceled I’m going to unload on the person on the other end of the line.

I gathered some statistics tonight which clearly show Augusta County is doing a lousy job even in comparison to our nearest neighbors:

AugustaAlbemarleRockinghamRockbridge
Population           76,000      109,000        82,000        22,600
Vaccinated as of 1/17             1,879          5,275          2,531          1,018
Daily Rate                  63             176               84               34
Percent vaccinated2.5%4.8%3.1%4.5%
COVID-19 Cases             4,323          3,518          4,995880

January 18, 2021

Lynn and I worked on binding her Dad’s newspaper clippings this morning.  We had some trouble with the binder that she had borrowed from Donna.  The binder part of the machine quit working though it did punch the holes correctly.  She ended up attaching the plastic comb by hand to the last several copies.

I am bothered when I call or e-mail someone asking for a response and get none.  This has happened to me several times recently.  I e-mailed the Central Shenandoah Health District’s COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinator asking him to verify that those 65 and over were moved to Group 1-B shortly after Northram’s report last week.  No response.  I e-mailed the reporter from WHSV asking for his permission to keep a copy of his video about Henry’s basketball game.  No response. 

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day so all school events were canceled, the post office won’t deliver mail, etc.  In other words—boring day!  We drove to Staunton in the morning to return the binder to Donna and drop off copies of the document to her, Kay, and Bill.

Throughout the day we’ve gotten word via phone, e-mail, or Facebook that friends of ours who signed up when we did for the Augusta Health vaccinations this coming Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are being told that their appointments are being canceled because they are not 75 or over.  Waiting on that phone call has just infuriated me all the more.  Truthfully, my blood pressure is surely much higher than it should be over this.  Instead of spending all day making calls telling people that their appointments are canceled they should have been on the phone lining up more people and locations for the vaccinations to be administered.  As you can tell from the statistics I listed last night, getting people vaccinated is not the priority in Augusta County as it is elsewhere. 

I’ve had to work hard at not snapping at Lynn today for surely nothing she has done has angered me.  But thinking about Donald Trump and COVID-19 vaccinations has just put me in a bad mood.  Poor Lynn!  When I consider the big picture—I’ve not had COVID-19, am healthy and financially secure, with a wonderful family, I really have much more to be thankful for than to complain about.

Today was a cold, windy day with blowing snow at times.  I saw in front of the fireplace with our gas insert on much of the day.  Lynn actually went walking with Ginny Bauman at 1:30 when the weather was posted as 36o with a feel-like temperature of 28o

The call came around 4:15.  Lynn got hers about five minutes later.  She was a lot nicer to the lady on the other end of the phone than I.  Lynn asked when she could expect to be rescheduled; she was told they were only planning to vaccinate those 75 or over now.  She asked to speak to a supervisor who said that Augusta Health didn’t have enough vaccines.  Yet on the VDH website it says that The Virginia Department of Health says Virginia has been given 943,400 vaccinations yet only 324,965 have been administered.   The Governor said that all of the vaccinations had been distributed to localities.  Someone is not telling the truth….

I’m more than bothered by the fact that our local health department chose to ignore that 65 and over were moved into group 1-B.  Northram himself said that 80% of those who have died due to COVID have been in the 65 and over age group. 

I updated the spreadsheet I posted last evening with tonight’s numbers but the conclusion was the same:  Augusta County is doing a lousy job of vaccinating its residents.  I sent this spreadsheet to a number of my friends along with a rant similar to what I’ve written here.  All of them responded that the rant was justified.

After dinner tonight we went back to Smiley’s because they had a new flavor Lynn wanted to try out.  It was called Turtle Cheesecake.  She really liked her milkshake.  No surprise, I had a cone of salted caramel chocolate chunk.

The next few days are going to be interesting in Washington.  We’ve got a rather busy schedule ourselves including three nights of basketball over the next four nights.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 18          Infected                   Died

World               95,973,555           2,048,256

US                     24,614,695              408,502

Virginia               446,550                  5,739

Augusta County       4,360                       41

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               324,965 (34,407 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,963 (241 of whom got 2nd dose)

What more can I say?  The enemy is almost to my foxhole and my reinforcements have apparently stopped to play cards.

Jim texted to our Family group a picture of a maze he built for the hamster that Coen and Faron apparently have.  It was really well made.  No surprise… 

Tomorrow is Coen’s 4th birthday.  Lynn ordered a present for him which is supposed to arrive tomorrow and today I made him a card.  I don’t know when we’ll get them to him.

With all my complaining, perhaps I should take Martin Luther King, Jr.’s advice.  Here’s a quote of his that definitely applies to me today:  “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

January 19, 2021

It calmed me a little this morning when I learned from Sam Richardson that he tried to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccination this coming Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and was told there were no more open spots.  He is definitely over 75.  I feel badly for him that our local health department is so unprepared.

I did my usual Monday morning QuickBooks work at Central today then came back home mid-morning.  The QuickBooks work doesn’t take me as long as it originally did, partly because I have finished the manual.  I’m going to continue doing the Treasurer’s job at least until I am vaccinated.  That might be a long time…

Both Staunton and Harrisonburg newspapers this morning had an article saying that the Central Shenandoah Health District was now vaccinating people in Group 1-B which makes it sound like I’ll be getting mine soon.  Not true…

From the inside, today looked like a nice day for late January.  The temperature was in the low 40’s.  But when you stepped outside you were greeted with a cold, strong wind that made it miserable out there.  Lynn and Ginny Bauman still managed to get in their two mile walk but I stayed in.

This pandemic has made me learn to live with boredom.  I’m not proud of myself sometimes when I’ve got little to do.  I play Whirly Word.  I refresh the Facebook page.  I play Solitaire.  I check obituaries in Bluefield and Morgantown.  I refresh the Facebook page.  I check the hourly forecast.  I look at the news on cnn.com.  I refresh the Facebook page.  I check out the news on the ABC news website.  I play Whirly Word.  I refresh the Facebook page.  I look at my pictures as they randomly come on my laptop screen.  I watch the news on CNN.  I refresh the Facebook page.

I’m not the only one who is upset with the speed at which we’re getting vaccinating.  I ran into this news story today from WWBT Channel 12 in Richmond:  While the Virginia Department of Health says its top priority is ‘getting shots into arms’ – Virginia is lagging behind just about every other state in getting it done.  Virginia has used about 34 percent of all available vaccine doses that have been distributed throughout the Commonwealth.  That puts the state in the bottom five of all 50 states. Over the next two weeks, the federal government will consider how quickly states are giving out the vaccine when it comes to the next allotment of available doses. Virginia’s low ranking could affect that.

This afternoon another glimmer of hope broke through.  Lynn found out from Cheryl Kent that Food Pantry volunteers are considered to be essential workers and are classified as 1-A in the vaccination scheme.  Cheryl contacted Caroline Jones who is in charge of Central’s Food Pantry who is pursuing this with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank who are very supportive of this, I understand.  The volunteers include the truck drivers.  So perhaps I’ll have a route to a vaccine after all.  I’m not going to get my hopes up, though. 

Tonight Lynn made the best supper.  On a cold day like today, there’s nothing better than soup.  She made chicken noodle soup that was delicious!  I ate three bowls of it.  She made plenty so I’ll have it for days plus we froze some for another time.  It was the best soup I’ve had in ages.

Since today was Coen’s 4th birthday but we couldn’t be there, we Zoomed with Jim and Coen this afternoon.  He showed us the new skates he had just gotten as well as his bike which he rode (with training wheels).  Then Jim quickly set up their driveway tennis net.  Jim stood on one side of the net and Coen was on the other side with this racket ready.  Ball after ball Coen hit over the net!  He was really good.  We’re going to Roanoke this Saturday to drop off his present and card.

Henry had a basketball game tonight against Wilson Memorial.  As always, the game was livestreamed and we enjoyed watching it.  The JV game was postponed so Gus didn’t play.  Wilson Memorial came into the game with a 4 – 1 record; Fort was 3 – 1.  Again, Henry didn’t start though I still think he should.  WMHS hit their first four shots from the field and went up 9 – 0 before Henry got in.  Soon it was 11 – 11 including two from Henry.  The quarter ended 16 – 15 in favor of WMHS.  After a good second quarter, Fort led 31 – 26 at the half.  FDHS had a good third quarter including two nice jumpers by Henry to take a 46 – 37 lead going into the last quarter.  Fort built up an 11 point lead then took Henry out.  I don’t need to tell you what happened next.  Soon it was 59 – 58 WMHS.  Fort scored to take a 60 – 59 lead with 18 seconds left.  With six seconds to go Fort fouled and WMHS hit both to take a 61 – 60 lead.  With Henry still on the bench they missed their last shot and lost.  No excuse.  The coach lost it.  Henry was 3 – 3 from the field and should have been on the court in the 4th quarter.

Here are today’s COVID-19 facts:

January 19          Infected                   Died

World               96,566,791           2,063,310

US                     24,783,941              411,027

Virginia               451,076                  5,798

Augusta County       4,410                       42

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               341,388 (36,826 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        1,991 (243 of whom got 2nd dose)

Another disappointing day.  Only 28 new people were vaccinated in Augusta County.  Awful!  Another 4,500 infected in Virginia.  The US is approaching 25,000,000 infected and has over 400,000 deaths.

January 20, 2021

Today was a monumental day for America in which we tossed out the worst President of my lifetime, Donald Trump, and ushered in Joe Biden.  We can only hope that the flames of discord that Trump fanned will turn to ashes.  It will take a long time for the US to get over such division, such selfishness, such neglect for the truth. 

It was a good day for Jim, too.  He got his first COVID-19 vaccination shot thanks to Roanoke City Schools.  It is somewhat ironic that the youngest member of our immediate family is the first to be inoculated but I’m very glad he has his first of two shots.  He posted a picture on Facebook holding his vaccination card and wearing a “I’ve been vaccinated” sticker.

I got an e-mail late last night, as did plenty of others, informing me of the same thing that the phone call had, that my appointment for a vaccine on Friday was canceled.  Although it was undoubtedly a mass e-mail, I couldn’t help but reply to it.  Here is what I wrote:

I understand that 75 and over people need the vaccination before I do.  But I want you to be aware of how far Augusta County is compared to our neighboring counties.  In the chart below, updated with today’s numbers, note that if Augusta continues at its current rate (only 28 people vaccinated today, for example), it will take 3.1 years to get everyone vaccinated.  Compare Augusta to Albemarle:  they have 2,000 more vaccinated than they have infected.  Augusta has fewer than ½ as many vaccinated as infected.  All of the other counties have a higher percentage of their population vaccinated.  WE NEED 24/7 VACCINATION CLINICS so that you’ll be calling people to get vaccinated, not calling them to cancel their appointments because you’re refused to include 65 and over in group 1-B like Governor Northram recommended.  80% of those who have died are in the 65 and over age group.  This is the most important task the Health Department has taken on in decades—you need to do a much better job with it.

And note this news from WWBT Channel 12 in Richmond:  While the Virginia Department of Health says its top priority is ‘getting shots into arms’ – Virginia is lagging behind just about every other state in getting it done.  Virginia has used about 34 percent of all available vaccine doses that have been distributed throughout the Commonwealth.  That puts the state in the bottom five of all 50 states. Over the next two weeks, the federal government will consider how quickly states are giving out the vaccine when it comes to the next allotment of available doses. Virginia’s low ranking could affect that.

What are you doing about this??  (besides calling and e-mailing people that their appointments have been canceled)

Joe Hill

540-292-0237

I’m probably going to get myself blacklisted for my e-mails.  I just can’t keep all of this to myself. 

I’m also going to have to figure out how to calmly get over let downs on the basketball court.  West Virginia lost to 4th ranked Texas on January 9 after leading the entire game but giving up a game-winning shot at the last second.  On January 15, Gus’ JV team was ahead by double digits with four minutes to go in the game when he was taken out; Stuarts Draft scored the next 14 points and won.  Then last night, as I wrote, Henry was taken out with 2:21 left and Fort holding a 57 – 48 lead.  Wilson Memorial then outscored Fort 13 – 3 to win, 61 – 60.  Lynn has told me literally hundreds of times, “It’s only a game!”  Maybe so, but this kind of disappointment hits me hard.  Fort does not have a championship JV or varsity team.  They will lose other games but I hope they only lose games to superior teams, not when their own coaches screw up.

Henry’s good play wasn’t just noticed by his family.  The Waynesboro paper had an article about the game including the paragraph:  Fort Defiance sophomore Henry Guttershall showed off his fancy footwork in the post as he made all three of his shot attempts to help extend the Indians’ lead to nine going into the fourth quarter.  They misspelled his name but got the rest right.  I would hope that the coaching staff would notice this, too.

I watched a lot of the inauguration events today, before, during and after.  Lady Gaga performed a monumental version of the national anthem.  Biden’s speech was one of unity; he didn’t mention Trump’s name.  Afterward there was a fairly good sense of peace and unity in the nation, especially compared to what it’s been like for the past four years.  At least that’s the sense I got from the news media and Facebook.  All of the events in Washington were safe and incident-free.

Lynn called in an order to Kroger today and we stopped by Aldi’s on the way there.  Then we picked up dinner at Chicano Boy to celebrate the change in national leadership.

It was a very boring day—too cold and windy to walk.  Lynn had two interpreting sessions in the morning for Rockingham County Public Schools.

My brother sent a sobering text today.  He had received a statement for Ann’s medical expenses:  $1,228,374.66.  He said that they paid $1,737, thanks to their insurance.  He commented about how events like this force those without good insurance to file for bankruptcy.  So true.

We did have more basketball to watch tonight.  Both JV and Varsity played Waynesboro.  Waynesboro’s JV’s were terrible, perhaps the worst JV team I’ve seen in all my days of watching/playing basketball. Gus got in with a little over two minutes to go in the first quarter and immediately scored then grabbed a couple of rebounds.  At the end of the quarter the score was Fort 9, Waynesboro 0.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a team go the entire quarter without scoring.  At the end of the half the score was 22 – 2.  And it wasn’t that the Fort team was playing great—quite the opposite.  They were playing down to their level of competition.  Fort’s coaching in this game was inexplicable.  With a lead of 26 – 2 in the third quarter, the coach still had his starters in and was pressing.  He finally substituted a few players in, but not Gus.  He finally got in with two minutes to go in the quarter and the score 33 – 6.  He went 2 – 2 from the free throw line to give them a 37 – 10 lead at the end of the third quarter.   He played a little more than half of the 4th quarter as Fort cruised to a 54 – 17 easy win. 

This was the first time this year that FDHS had played Waynesboro’s JV’s but the varsity teams played on January 11 with Fort winning 56 – 44.  Again Henry didn’t start.  He got in with 4:35 to go in the first quarter and the score 4 – 3 Waynesboro.  He made a nice steal and turned it into a two-pointer to pull the Indians within two at 9-7.  That’s the way the quarter ended.  Ryan Cook did not have a good shooting quarter and Fort made numerous turnovers.  At least the coach kept Henry in to start the 2nd quarter but then took him out after only 45 seconds.  I know I see the players through very biased eyes, but from where I view the game he is clearly the best forward FDHS has and should be playing lots, lots more.  He did get back in with 3:45 to go in the half.  Fort played better in the 2nd quarter and led 21 – 16 at the half.  Josh, who was at the game texting us, called it an “ugly game.”  I didn’t disagree.

In the second half, Henry saw action with about four minutes to go in the third quarter.  Uncharacteristically, he missed two free throws.  But he played good defense including a steal and drawing a charge.  Then he hit 2 – 2 from the free throw line to put the Indians up by 10, 35 – 25.  By this time, Fort was in control and led 41 – 29 by the end of the quarter.  He got to play more in the fourth quarter; by that time the Indians led comfortably.  He drew another charge on a good defensive play.  Fort got the win, 53 – 35, but it wasn’t a pretty win.  That makes them 4 – 2 for the season with a game against Staunton this coming Friday night.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

January 20          Infected                   Died

World               97,237,493           2,080,402

US                     24,973,059              415,038

Virginia               455,591                  5,861

Augusta County       4,443                       42

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               360,051 (39,458 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        2,045 (250 of whom got 2nd dose)

Today was the first of the three big days of vaccinating Augusta County residents 75 and over.  Yet this report only shows Augusta’s number increasing by 54.  I know that there were residents of Staunton and Waynesboro also vaccinated at Augusta Health today but still this number seems way too low.  And note that Augusta’s number of infected is still more than twice its number vaccinated.

January 21, 2021

I talked to Caroline Jones this morning about getting a COVID-19 vaccination through our connection with the Central Food Pantry.  She seemed optimistic about it though she had not heard back from the lady at the Central Virginia Food Bank about how this is to be done.  She, like Lynn and me, had signed up for the vaccinations this week only to have been called and told our appointments were canceled because we weren’t 75 or over.

I had a very fruitful morning at Central today.  I first recorded my Congregational Prayer for this coming Sunday, posted it to my Google Drive, and shared it with Yi-Ping Chen who assembles the various files for the Sunday morning service.  I did something interesting with this prayer:  during part of it I played a recording I had made on my piano last night of Hymn 142:  If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee.  While the recording of hymn was playing, I read its words.  In other words, my MacBook was both playing one recording (using Quicktime) while making another one (using Photo Booth).  I had verified last night that this was possible so today I did the recording in the sanctuary. 

After making that recording, I paid three bills and updated the records in QuickBooks of our major endowment.  That endowment really did well this last quarter.  Despite paying out almost $10,000 to Central, as it does every quarter, it still gained in value from $836,000 to $916,000.  Wow, a $80,000 increase!   As I have known for many years, this really points out that the way to be rich is to start rich.  Those who are lucky enough to have huge portfolios make great monies through their unearned income like this.  There is absolutely no way to work yourself rich; the only way to get rich is to have investments, i.e., unearned income.

I was happy to see that the stock market did not crash, as Trump predicted it would, when Biden took over.  In fact, it closed considerably higher yesterday thanks to his inauguration.

I will probably have much less to write about now that Trump is out of office.  No longer will I have absurd tweets or quotes to react to.  No longer will there be a plethora of lies to denounce.  No longer will crooks and family members be put in charge of important tasks of our government.  What will I write about?  Ha!

Alas, more disappointment.  Later in the day Caroline Jones forwarded an e-mail from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank saying that Food Pantry workers were classified as 1-B, not 1-A.  Nonetheless, her e-mail said to register for this.  But the VDH registration site didn’t work…no surprise.  More disappointment, more anger.

Butch was able to get vaccinated today, thanks in part to his friendship with a local pharmacist, I believe.  I’m jealous!  We kiddingly tried to get him to talk the pharmacist into adding us.  Lynn said she’d make English Muffins for both Butch and the pharmacist.  He actually did check with his friend but was told that the vaccines were only for Ohio residents.   More disappointment…

Butch was able to get vaccinated because the pharmacy had a few excess doses.  He said that they clearly were going to end up wasting some today since the shelf life is limited after they come out of the freezer.  Such a shame…

The weather was nice enough for Lynn and I to do our two mile walk this afternoon.  It looks like tomorrow’s weather will be similar.  I need to keep walking.  I know I’ve picked up a few pounds.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 21          Infected                   Died

World               98,026,535           2,097,653

US                     25,173,637              419,729

Virginia               459,604                  5,940

Augusta County       4,476                       43

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               399,317 (45,074 of whom got 2nd dose)   

            Augusta County        2,350  (288 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County finally vaccinated 305 people in one day—much more than they’ve been doing.  This needs to be repeated over and over and over. 

January 22, 2021

After a few minutes of inactivity, my MacBook launches a screensaver which displays several randomly chosen pictures from my Favorite Pictures folder.  Each picture stays on for a few seconds then more are loaded.  I spend a lot of time watching these photos pop up.  They remind me of happy times, times which aren’t happening now:  weddings, vacations, family gatherings, kids swimming or playing in our backyard, eating together, reunions, travels, awards, and sports events.  There are pictures from the 70’s, those of family members no longer alive, babies, and spectacular places we’ve visited.  The pictures bring back sweet memories but they also bring on sadness.  I wonder what pictures, if any, I’ll be able to add to this folder.  Will we be able to travel uninhibited again?  Will our families be able to gather together for a meal?  Will there be graduation ceremonies, ball games, or weddings we can attend?  These aren’t pictures of people being socially distant and wearing masks—they’re pictures of family members hugging, laughing, visiting, and showing their love through proximity—none of which are happening now.

Today’s news may not be much about Trump but it sure is depressing:  more mutations of the virus, less availability of the vaccine, and record deaths.  Biden said today that the 400,000+ who have died from COVID-19 in the US is more than the number who died in World War II. 

I didn’t get any closer to getting vaccinated today.  I got a boiler-plate e-mail from the local health department just because I had signed up to be on the list of those who want a vaccine.  It offered little, if any hope, that this will happen soon.  In the evening I got a second e-mail with the same information in it.  I’m tired of being told to wear masks, stay socially distant, wash my hands, and be patient waiting on my turn to be vaccinated.

The Congregational Prayer I recorded for this Sunday was an attempt at looking for hope in tough times.  Perhaps I need to listen to my own words.  I’m not feeling very hopeful today.

While Lynn had her Cheryl friends over this morning I took Jim’s truck to AutoZone and had a new battery installed.  It needed it—I had to put my battery charger on the old one for a couple of hours before I started it.  There was an issue the installer ran into when the hood was shut—it wouldn’t latch properly.  Jim said he’d take a look at it the next time he’s here.  I put a bungee cord on it just to make sure it didn’t fly open as I drove home.  Jim later texted me that he thought he could fix this; he had replaced the hood a few years ago.

This morning on the WHSV news it was announced that Page County was vaccinating residents 65 and older at Page County High School from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm today.  They suggested that people with last names A to D should arrive at 9 a.m.; E to H at 10; I to P at 11; and Q to Z at noon.  Is there any surprise that at the noon news they reported that cars were lined up for miles outside the high school?  This just points out again how unprepared the health departments are. 

Late this afternoon Lynn got the e-mail from Superintendent Oskar Scheikl that she has anxiously been awaiting.  She will be vaccinated next Wednesday, January 27, at Spotswood High School.  Rockingham County Public Schools will start their vaccinations on January 27 and will continue on subsequent Wednesdays.  Ann will get hers on one of the subsequent Wednesdays.  She will receive her time in an upcoming e-mail.  She was overjoyed, to say the least.

Well, we bought our lottery tickets for the MegaMillions drawing tonight.  The jackpot is $1 billion.  I’m not going to waste time thinking about what I’d do if I won….

Our friends Paul and Sandy Porterfield in North Carolina relayed that they are scheduled to get their first shot on Wednesday, the 27th.  Our friends Hal and Diane Koerner have a summer home in Colorado and a winter one in Arizona.  Colorado elected to administer its vaccinations to 65 and over via a lottery.  Hal was chosen for the lottery, Diane wasn’t.  As a result, Hal drove for ten hours from their current home in Arizona to get his first shot.  Diane Koerner has hers scheduled February 12 in Arizona.  Hers is scheduled at 2:42 am because they are doing their vaccinations 24/7.  And how about us in Virginia?  You know the answer. 

A Facebook post told how Mossy Creek Presbyterian Church in Mount Solon is raising money for the Elizabeth and Gilberto Aguirre family.  Lynn posted that she knew the family well and how much they were deserving.  She then got a Facebook message from Carolyn Houff saying that the Houffs wanted to donate and asked Lynn to meet them this afternoon so they could give her the check to give to the church.  It was a $2,000 check!  To be honest, Carolyn Houff is an ardent Trump supporter who posts lots of offensive messages but apparently her heart is still mighty good.  Lynn made arrangements to drop the check off on Monday.  Pastor Won also sent a check for $100 from our Samaritan Fund for the family.  We have some cash we’ll give them, too.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 22          Infected                   Died

World               98,675,645           2,113,875

US                     25,359,980              423,590

Virginia               463,751                  6,002

Augusta County       4,527                       43

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               424,857  (48,034 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        2,592  (302 of whom got 2nd dose)

I’m not sure why I post these statistics anymore.  I hope that I show up as a statistic in the last line, not elsewhere in that chart.

Tonight was another basketball night:  Fort Defiance vs Staunton.  The JV game was first, as always.  Gus got in with one minute to go in the quarter and Fort ahead 9 – 6.   Staunton closed to 9 – 8 then Gus put Fort up 11 – 8 at the quarter with nice short jumper.  Staunton took off in the second quarter, building an 20 – 13 lead thanks to multiple turnovers by FDHS.  It is so hard to watch kids play basketball who can’t dribble or pass.  Gus did fine—no turnovers, couple of rebounds, and 1 – 1 from the field.   Unfortunately for Fort, Staunton outscored them 19 – 2 in the second quarter and took a 27 – 13 lead at the half.  It was a miserable quarter for Fort.

The third quarter was no better.  Gus got in after a couple minutes but they were down 30 – 13 by that time.  The onslaught continued though Gus did hit a jumper for two of the few points Fort could muster.  The quarter ended with Staunton ahead 47 – 17.  If you were counting Fort turnovers you’d need a legal pad.  Gus didn’t play any in the 4th quarter.  The final score was Staunton JV 56, Fort JV 23. 

In the varsity game, Fort hung in for the first quarter.  Henry didn’t get in until one minute to go in the quarter.  Staunton led 11 – 10 at the end of the first.   Henry played about half of the second quarter as the lead seesawed back and forth.  Then Staunton went on a 9 – 0 run and ended up ahead 24 – 18 at the half. 

I hate Fort’s offense.  Henry’s job is to set a screen, then set another screen, then set another screen.  The opponent’s defense doesn’t take him out of scoring possibilities—Fort’s offense does!  In the first half Henry took only one shot.  Fort’s Ryan Cook could probably beat any defender put on him but the offense gives him no clear-out opportunities.  Even in the old days when I played when the opponent was in a man-to-man defense there were set plays when the other four players on our team would, by design, take their defenders to the left side of the court which meant the right side was open for me (or whomever else had the ball) to drive in and score. 

The third quarter saw Staunton increase its lead to 31 – 22 before Fort hit five in a row to make it 31 – 27.  Henry got in but all didn’t touch the ball.  Meanwhile, the Fort guards exploded while Staunton went cold.  Fort scored the last nine points of the quarter to go up 36 – 31.   Henry got in midway through the 4th quarter as Fort clung to a 40 – 36 lead.  But Staunton scored then Fort threw it away for an easy Staunton score and it was tied with 2:04 to go.  Henry scored to give Fort the lead, 42 – 40 and with 1:15 to go they rebounded a miss and had a two point lead and possession.  Henry was fouled and calmly hit them both FDHS a 4 point lead.  But Staunton scored again then Fort threw it away again.  With the score 44 – 42 Staunton fouled Ryan Cook who hit them both.  Staunton scored to make it 46 – 44 with 14 seconds left.  They immediately fouled Ryan again who missed his one and one.  Staunton drove down and the player was fouled with six seconds to go, Fort on top 46 – 44.  But the ball was knocked loose and Henry picked it up and was fouled.  He missed his first then drained the second for a 47 – 44 lead with 1.6 seconds to go.  Staunton missed its desperation heave so FDHS was victorious!  Henry was interviewed on Channel 3 after the game.  After all, he was the one who scored 5 of their last 7 points.  YIPPEE!!

As much as I’ve fretted over COVID-19 and its vaccinations, watching the ball game tonight temporarily took away that sting.  What a joy it was to watch Henry shine and to realize that I may not be vaccinated but I’ve been blessed.  I’m blessed to have such a good family and blessed to be able to watch them grow and excel.  Praise the Lord.

January 23, 2021

I learned from our Family text last night that both Kay and Jim had seen the game.  That is so cool—perhaps the only positive thing that has come out of this pandemic.  This morning I was able to capture the TV 3 interview and posted it to my Vimeo site which is linked to my homepage.  Henry did a good job with the interview just as he had done during the game.

I know I’m prejudiced but I’m not the only one who thinks highly of Henry’s basketball play.  This is from today’s Wayhnesboro newspaper:

Off the backs of a huge third quarter and strong play down the stretch from sophomore Henry Gutshall, the Indians overcame a halftime deficit to scrape by the Staunton Storm 47-44 on Friday night in a tight Shenandoah District boys basketball contest… Gutshall began his clutch performance when he was fouled with 1:14 remaining as he hit two crucial free throws to give the Indians a two-point advantage. Cook also sank two free throws with 28.2 seconds left to give the Indians a 46-42 advantage. Staunton guard Jamal Brown responded with an impressive pass to Cabell, and after a missed free throw on a one-and-one by Cook, the Storm had the ball with 5.4 seconds left and down by two points.  Cabell received the ball in the paint, where he had been strong all game, and Gutshall swiped the ball from him and was promptly fouled. He sank 1-of-2 to give the Indians the 47-44 lead they would never relinquish…  “He’s got a lot of confidence in himself and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him,” Fulk said of Gutshall. “He’s just a sophomore, so I’m excited to see where he can go. Those are gigantic plays.”

Unlike most recent days, today was a very busy one.  It began with a trip to the dump.  Then, we went to Central to pick up soup and other food for both Juan Pablo and the Aguirre family.  We took Juan Pablo’s food to Waynesboro then brought the Aguirre’s back here so we could take it to them tomorrow.

Soon thereafter we were on our way to Roanoke.  We took Coen’s birthday present and card to him.  We stayed there about two hours, all outside.  It was good to see those little boys.  Both have bikes with training wheels and love to ride.  It would be so nice if they could ride here on our tennis court but they haven’t been here in well over a year.

As I noted on a previous day, Jim already has his first COVID-19 vaccination.  So does Morgan.  Roanoke is so far ahead of Augusta in getting the vaccines out, as are nearly all places in Virginia.

We got back from Jim’s in time to see the WVU – Kansas State basketball game.  WVU hadn’t played in two weeks due to some COVID-19 infections.  But, Kansas State wasn’t much competition.  The Mounties rolled to an easy win, 69 – 47.  The game wasn’t much fun to watch.

We ate dinner at halftime and after the game we went to Smiley’s for ice cream.  Yum!

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

January 23          Infected                   Died

World               99,256,293           2,127,855

US                     25,540,219              427,091

Virginia               468,655                  6,069

Augusta County       4,578                       45

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               443,760  (50,147 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        2,681  (306 of whom got 2nd dose)

The United States’ infection rate appears to have slowed but not the Virginia one.  Augusta still doesn’t have 4% of its population inoculated with even the first dose. 

More disappointment tonight.  One of Lynn’s Cheryl friends texted her that she had gotten a call from the Health Department scheduling her for her vaccination on Monday.  She said she got the call because she had filled out the survey and we should expect our call soon because we all filled it out at a similar time.  Alas, no phone call. 

January 24, 2021

I had more disappointment this morning.  First, Lynn and I both awoke in the middle of the night.  She looked at her text from Cheryl Wright about signing up for the vaccination.  Cheryl had forwarded to her a note from someone else about calling an Augusta Health hotline in order to secure a vaccination time.  I called that number at 3:37 am.  Of course, I got a recording and left my name, phone number, and age.  The recording said I’d get a call back.  Alas, no phone call.

Then this morning, during our Zoom Sunday School, Caroline Jones said that although she had registered the Central Food Pantry in order to qualify for group 1-B, she had gotten an e-mail confirmation which said that because of the shortage of vaccines it would likely not be until March that this group got served.

Also during that time period, Lynn got a Facebook Messenger call.  It was Elizabeth and Gilberto!  She was at her brother’s house in Staunton and he was (likely) in the Rehab location in Charlottesville.  He sounded and looked good.  Multiple times he thanked Lynn and me for helping his family out. 

And help them out we did again today.  We had two boxes of food we had picked up from Central’s Food Pantry yesterday that we took to Elizabeth.  We also gave them some cash.  I have a saying I like to recall when making a donation like that:  we have never missed money that we’ve donated to a worthy cause.  Today was no exception to that rule.

We made a few other quick stops on the way to dropping off the food including a stop at Aldi’s.  As usual, I stayed in the car while Lynn went in.  With her first vaccination coming on Wednesday, it is so important for her to avoid the chance of catching COVID-19 between now and then.  She was very safe at the stops.

I wrote all of the above prior to the experience I then received:

Mid-afternoon, as I was writing this downstairs sulking in self-pity, Lynn got a phone call which delivered WONDERFUL NEWS.   The call was from Augusta Health offering her the vaccine tomorrow.  She initially told them she was already signed up with Rockingham County Public Schools but would like to get me registered.  She passed her phone to me.  After I answered a few questions, here’s the e-mail I received:

Henry J Hill 
This message is to confirm that Henry J Hill is scheduled for a vaccination appointment at: 
Venue/Location: Augusta Health – Dose 1Pfizer 
Address: 107 Sports Medicine Drive, Fishersville, VA, 22939 
Date: 01/25/2021 
Time: 12:45 pm 

As I was signing up, Lynn changed her mind about getting it through Rockingham County Schools so she could go with me tomorrow so she, also, answered the questions and registered.  She’s registered for 12:50 pm tomorrow.  YIPPEE!!  WE ARE BOTH ELATED.  I AM A DIFFERENT PERSON NOW! 

We immediately notified all of our family and friends.  This means we will get our second dose before we leave for the Greenbrier on February 15.  That timing couldn’t be better.

To top off such a good day, Lynn made great tasting chili and cornbread tonight for dinner.  It was a fine meal and one we’ll have for at least one more night.

I’m going to continue to post to this blog at least until after I’ve gotten both of my shots.  I do feel like the reinforcements have spotted my foxhole just in the nick of time.  Here are today’s statistics:

January 24          Infected                   Died

World               99,723,603           2,137,780

US                     25,686,142              429,257

Virginia               472,447                  6,078

Augusta County       4,596                       44

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               474,979  (58,779 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        3,069  (374 of whom got 2nd dose)

Augusta County has 112 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19.  I’ve been so afraid that I would be joining them.  I guess I’m still not out of the woods.  It is good to finally see that Virginia has given more shots than there are infections.  Augusta still lags in this statistic.  In the US, there are still more infections than vaccinations. 

I wrote earlier about tiny Page County giving mass vaccinations on Friday.  It turns out that they administered over 1,400 vaccines in just six hours.  In other words, in one day they gave almost half as many as Augusta has done in the past six weeks.

The down side to our getting scheduled for the COVID vaccination is that not all of our friends have had the same luck.  For example, Cheryl Kent hasn’t received the phone call yet.  I don’t really know why Lynn was called.  The really curious thing is that the person had her Rockingham County, not her Google, e-mail address.  I’m about 99% sure that when she filled in all of the forms I also filled in she used her Google e-mail address.  Strange….but we’ll take it!

January 25, 2021

This morning Lynn and I discussed specific days that had been life-changing for us.  We quickly named:  the day we met, our wedding day, the births of our three children, the deaths of our four parents, and the births of our eight grandchildren.  I’m sure there were other big days in our 44 ½ years of marriage.  But today, January 25, 2021, would have to be another significant day because at 12:45 pm today each of us received the first dose of our Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination.  Furthermore, we scheduled our second dose for Monday, February 15, at 12:15 pm.

It is very interesting that our entire COVID experience will end up having the Greenbrier as bookends.  We had just come back from the Greenbrier on March 9 – 12, 2020, when all of the sheltering in place started.  The Friday of that week, March 12, we watched Henry’s FDHS soccer team play its season opener against Nelson County.  It turned out to be the last game of the season.  Now, this year, on February 15 we are returning to the Greenbrier to again see Paul and Sandy Porterfield.  They will also have gotten their vaccinations by that time.  Technically, Lynn and I won’t be completely safe by then because it takes a week or so after the second dose until you’re supposedly 95% safe from COVID-19. 

The process was fairly quick and efficient.  We got to Augusta Health around 12:20 and though our appointments weren’t until 12:45 we were able to go straight in.  The clinic was set up on one of the indoor tennis courts at Augusta Health and Fitness Center.  After checking in, we waited no more than 5 minutes until both of us were taken to one of the eight nurses stations and received our shots.  Then we had to wait the mandatory 15 minutes to make sure neither of us had a bad reaction to the vaccine.  While we were waiting, one of the Augusta Health folks interviewed us to set up our return appointment for the second dose.  Then we checked out and were done.  Hurrah!

When I got home I sent the Director of the Central Shenandoah Health District and the Vaccine Coordinator a thank you e-mail.  I had been rather harsh in my earlier e-mails to them so I thought I owed them a thanks for finally making this happen.

We won’t change any of our habits for the next three weeks, of course.  And we won’t take any foolish chances.  This vaccine is so important to us!

We had plenty of time to drive to the bank in Bridgewater then stop at Smiley’s for a celebratory ice cream on the way home.  We had to be back by 3:00 because Lynn had a Zoom interpreting session for one of the Rockingham County Schools.  We got back home with plenty of time to spare.

Earlier in the morning I had done my weekly counting and depositing for Central UMC.  Afterwards, I had some checks to write and started looking over some of the monthly reports.  It then hit me that I had been paying our secretary, Savannah, too little.  Her payroll is set up as an hourly employee and she works 26 hours each week.  We pay twice per month.  Yet all six of her paychecks since she started work were for 26 hours of work when they were supposed to be for 52.  My mistake!  She hadn’t caught that but was very understanding when I told her.  I proposed to her that we fix the error by paying her for 78 hours of work for the six pay periods which would be her correct 52 hours plus 26 more for each of the six pay periods.

I wrote on the first day of this blog, April 20, that I felt like I was reporting on a baseball game that was in progress but didn’t know what inning the game was in.  I feel like Lynn and I both hit home runs today.  I’m not about to say that the game is over.  Even after our second vaccination there are questions about mutations of the virus being undeterred by this vaccine.  I’ll certainly be breathing easier a month from today, though.

On April 20, 2020 Augusta County had 22 cases of COVID-19 and 0 deaths due to it.  Today the County has almost 5,000 cases and 44 deaths.   On the first day of my blog the world had 2.4 million cases.  Today there are over 100 million.  On April 20 the US had 770,564 cases and 41,114 deaths.  Today it has 25,783,869 cases and 430,324 deaths.  On the other hand, on April 20 there are no vaccinations and today Lynn and I just got the first dose of ours.

Poor Cheryl Kent!  She had a setting on her phone to block unknown callers.  This afternoon she apparently got a call from Augusta Health to schedule her vaccination but her phone didn’t ring because of the setting.  She’s tried to call them back but has had no luck thus far.  She has been so anxious to get this call that she said she even took her phone with her when she went to the bathroom.  Yet the call came and she didn’t know it because of her phone’s settings.

On December 28 I mailed calendars to Jim, Butch, and Mary K.  Here we are, a month later, and they still do not have them.  January’s calendar featured Coen since it was his birthday but by the time Jim gets his it will be February.  Grrrrr…

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 25          Infected                   Died

World             100,198,968           2,147,373

US                     25,824,525              431,028

Virginia               478,619                  6,081

Augusta County       4,623                       44

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               522,853  (64,381 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        3,320  (440 of whom got 2nd dose)

The website says it was updated today.  So I guess that means that Lynn and I are among the 3,320 Augusta County residents who received a vaccine.  Yabbadabbadoo!

Tonight was supposed to have been a basketball night.  Gus had a JV game against Waynesboro.  The first time they played, I labeled Waynesboro as the worst JV team I’d ever watched.  As usual, Gus didn’t start but he’s only an 8th grader.  Gus got in very early, though, thanks to a couple of fouls on one of the Fort boys.  He missed a jumper and two free throws but rebounded well.  Then he got pulled out.  At the end of the first quarter, Waynesboro led 14 – 7.  Fort’s shooting and ball handling was even worse than Waynesboro’s.  Strangely, at the end of the quarter the game was postponed and the players sent home because of icy roads.  At the time the temperature was 31o with freezing rain.  I had never seen that happen before.

January 26, 2021

Physically I felt no different today than I have any other day for the past ten months.  But emotionally I was much better off now that I’ve got that first vaccine in my arm.  Many of our friends are finding ways to get vaccinated now, too.  Some are going to Augusta Health as we did but some are going as far as Roanoke to get an appointment.  The Augusta County teachers are going to be vaccinated over the next couple of days just as the Rockingham County teachers are going to get theirs on successive Wednesdays this month and next.

I spent four hours today at Central working on QuickBooks.  Much of it was frustrating.  My plan was to contact the QuickBooks support people and have them walk me through voiding the payroll I had setup on Friday so I could change Savannah’s hours from 26 to 78.  By doing this it would correct the error in the first payroll of January; she was supposed to have been paid for 52 hours each two weeks and we’ve only been paying her for 26.  There is no phone number to call Intuit but on my Mac I found a link that told me if I clicked it and entered my phone number they would call me.  That worked surprisingly well; in less than two minutes my phone rang.  I explained what I wanted the person to do and she said it would be no problem.  Then she asked to whom she was speaking.  I told her and she said that I was not listed as the contac person for QuickBooks so they couldn’t help me.  She said I’d have to have the official Central contact person get in touch with them to request that I be named that contact.  At first she wouldn’t even tell me who that person was but I knew it must be Sarah Russell, Jeff DeLong, or Jim Clemmer.  She finally admitted that it was Jim after I asked her how I could have a person contact them if I didn’t know who that person was?  She told me to have him call the phone number I had been dialed on so I immediately called him at home and asked him to do so.  He was very willing to help and said he’d call me back when it was done.  About twenty minutes later he said he never did talk to a person and that he’d come to Central so we could call together.  We did so, using the same technique as before, and were finally told that we’d have to submit numerous documents including scans of our drivers’ licenses and two letters requesting this.  It took most of the morning to get all of this done.  The last lady was kind enough to help me do what I originally called about so in the end everything worked out OK.  Savannah should get a check this Friday which will help compensate her for the shortage we’d been paying her.  I’ll continue to list her as having 78 hours for the next four pay cycles to make up for November and December.  She is fine with this plan and I should be able to do it OK without calling them—thank goodness!

This afternoon I had a Zoom Finance Committee meeting for CUMC.  I had prepared a bunch of documents to share with them.  Two were of particular interest to me:  one was a quick study I had done computing the percent of income Central received each year from its membership versus other sources.  The data showed a clear and interesting trend:  In 2003, 82% of the $232,081 income had come from members’ envelope giving.  In 2020, only 41% of the $292,527 income came from members’ envelope giving.  We have become very dependent on our endowments, grants, rents, and special funds such as Kitchen or Food Pantry.  The other interesting statistic I shared with the committee was how well our endowments have done.  The parsonage endowment began 2020 at $388,053 and ended the year at $432,218.  The Schwab General endowment began 2020 at $158,166 and ended the year at $181,528.  The FirstBank endowment began the year at $843,712 and ended 2020 at $914,838.  And, each of these endowments paid out money during the year.  For example, the FirstBank endowment paid out around $40,000 to Central during the year for expenses.  Without these endowments our church would be in financial trouble.  And yet they collectively increased in value over $100,000 during the year.  Wow!

Lynn and I were able to do our two mile walk this afternoon.  We may get to walk tomorrow but the next several days after it look to be very cold.

Tonight was double duty for me.  Henry had a varsity basketball game at Buffalo Gap that we watched on our downstairs TV.  Well, I watched the first quarter as the game was late in starting, then I went upstairs to participate in Central’s Administrative Council meeting.  I couldn’t very well opt out of it since I am the secretary.  After the Council meeting I was able to view the rest of the basketball game since the games are archived on the NFHS network.

Henry still didn’t start.  I don’t know what more he has to do for the coach to see that he should be in the game from the get-go.  Buffalo Gap only had eight players dressed.  Fort’s starting five included two players who should be there, Ryan Cook and Josh Jones.  But it also included a post player who hasn’t scored ten points all season and two sophomore guards who are good defenders but are very careless handling the basketball.  Henry didn’t get in until there was 1:21 to go in the quarter though Fort had built up a 20 – 10 lead by that point.  They led 22 – 12 at the end of the quarter.  Henry scored off a nice spin move to make the score 24 – 14 then made a good assist to Josh for a three point play to put Fort up 27 – 14.  Henry was pulled out after Fort ran the lead to 31 – 14 in the 2nd quarter.   The half ended with Fort in charge, 38 – 20.  Ryan Cook had 21 of the 38 FDHS first half points.

The second half had some bizarre moments including several technical fouls and the refs sending the wrong players to shoot the fouls during one of them.  With Henry out, Gap seemed to score at will underneath but Fort answered each time and built up a 49 – 28 lead with 4:41 to go in the quarter.  Fort led 53 – 28 with 2:57 left in the quarter when Henry finally got back in.  He grabbed several rebounds but didn’t touch the ball on the offensive side of the court because his teammates threw it away multiple times.  Still, Fort led 55 – 32 going into the 4th quarter with Henry sitting down again.  He did get back in with 6:11 to go thanks to Josh picking up another foul.  Gap went on a mini-run, scoring ten in a row to make it 55 – 42.  Fort then extended the lead to 63 – 46.  Then came a technical foul on Ryan.  Fort cleared the bench with 1:16 to go.  The final score was Fort 68, Gap 51. 

It was not a great game but a good win for Fort.  Their record is now 5 – 2 in the Shenandoah District.  I still can’t get over how many turnovers the Fort guards have.  Some football quarterbacks have better completion rates on their passes than a couple of the Fort boys do.  Oh well, it was a win.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

January 26          Infected                   Died

World             100,809,748           2,165,081

US                     26,008,789              435,387

Virginia               483,326                  6,174

Augusta County       4,653                       44

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               569,040  (71,459 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        3,492  (491 of whom got 2nd dose)

For sure, Lynn and I are two of the 3,492!  The nationwide trend is that infections and hospitalizations are down somewhat despite the fact that a new hybrid of COVID-19 has been found in half of the states that spreads easier than the original.  I’m sure vaccinations are contributing to this.  But January is already the deadliest month of the pandemic. 

January 27, 2021

One problem with not having a lot to do thanks to retirement, COVID-19, and winter, is that I want to sit around and eat all the time.  I know I’ve gained a few pounds because it is so easy to grab snacks and, of course, they are addicting.  I’ve been fixing a Keurig cup of coffee each afternoon to satisfy that extra snack desire since the coffee has few calories. 

Today I did some typical jobs I do when I am bored:  checked the heating oil level in our tank, updated Central’s website, cleaned up my computer folders, etc.  I guess boredom is a blessing—beats putting out fires.

During one time in which I was somewhat looking for something to do, I decided to look at the Bramwell WV website.  I hadn’t looked at it for a long time.  It was created in 1999 and went for a while without any updates.  I pleasantly discovered that lots had been added including tributes to Bramwell pioneers which included information about my great-great grandfather and great-great grandmother, great-grandfather and great-grandmother, grandfather, grandmother, father, and mother.  Yes, the previous four generations of Hills lived in or near Bramwell.  I suspect cousin Bev Aker sent in that info.  It included pictures of each along with obituaries, death certificates, etc.  That was a good find.

Today was warm enough for Lynn and me to walk.  We did our usual two mile walk.  She later repeated that with Ginny Bauman.  The next few days look to be very cold.

I wrote yesterday that several of our friends were planning to drive to Roanoke to be vaccinated.  It turns out that later last evening Pastor Won sent us an e-mail with links to vaccinations available from Augusta Health.  Lynn forwarded that to many of our friends; some who had appointments in Roanoke were able to cancel there and reschedule at Fishersville.  Several, including her sister Kay, happily got their vaccines there today. 

The entire way that vaccinations have been scheduled has been strange.  Instead of having one website, one phone number for people to use to schedule their vaccine, there have been multiple links and phone numbers we’ve seen.  I honestly believe that we got ours on Monday not because we had done all we should have includign registering on all the sites, calling the supplied phone numbers plus our doctors’ offices, etc., but rather because of luck. 

Tonight we made an efficient trip to Harrisonburg.  First we stopped at Michael’s where Lynn had placed a curbside pickup order.  After our order was brought out to us, we went to the drive-thru ATM at the bank to take out some cash for Elizabeth and family, then picked up the pizza we had called in at Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  As always, it was delicious!

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 27          Infected                   Died

World             101,357,859           2,180,939

US                     26,133,923              438,541

Virginia               488,553                  6,228

Augusta County       4,671                       44

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               602,983  (78,261 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        3,778  (529 of whom got 2nd dose)

The number of cases in the US is definitely down.  And Augusta and Virginia are both doing better in getting people vaccinated though Augusta still has more people with cases than vaccinated.

Ann, Josh, and Freddie came over to watch tonight’s basketball game against Staunton.  We’re still not joining them in a room yet so Lynn and I watched on my iPad in our bedroom while the Gutshalls watched downstairs on our television using Airplay from their phone.

Staunton’s JV’s are the team that put a big whooping on Fort the first time they played.  The game started out like that was going to continue.  Staunton led 12 – 3 at the end of the first quarter as Fort managed to make only one basket the entire quarter, a three pointer.  Gus was put in late in the quarter and got to start the 2nd quarter.  He promptly hit a nice jumper to help the Fort cause though Staunton continued to lead.  FDHS made it respectable, 16 – 10, with Gus doing a good job on the boards.  The halftime score was 20 – 13.  Gus did fine; 1 – 1 from the field, two or three rebounds, no fouls, and zero turnovers.  His teammates, unfortunately, were not so good.  Several boys had picked up two fouls early on and the turnovers are always too many to count.

Gus got in midway through the third quarter with Staunton up to a 25 – 14 lead.  The Fort guards make so many fundamental mistakes:  bad passes, walks, double dribbles, stopping their dribble in corners, etc.  And all that Gus apparently has been told to do is to set screens, giving him virtually no chance to score.  He needs to be more aggressive on offense, too, because as it is now he rarely touches the ball.   His only opportunity to score were two missed free throws as Staunton built a commanding 39 – 16 lead.  The final was 41 – 22. 

Coming into the varsity game, Staunton had a 3 – 3 Shenandoah District record, 4 – 4 overall.  FDHS was 4 – 2 in the District, tied for first place, and 6 – 2 overall.  The Fort coach has wised up and is now starting two sophomores, Tyreek Veney and Kaden Johnson.  There’s another sophomore ne needs to be starting—Henry Gutshall.  Henry didn’t get in until 2:43 was left in the quarter.  The score at the end of the quarter was Ryan Cook 5, Staunton 4.  And Ryan missed several shots.  Fort was lucky to still be ahead.  Soon it was Ryan 9, Staunton 4.  Two three-pointers by Tyreek helped give FDHS a 15 – 11 lead midway through the 2nd quarter but Staunton hit two in a row plus a free throw to take a 16 – 15 lead while Henry was on the bench.  Henry got back in and the team traded baskets.  Henry made a nice jumper to give FDHS a 19 – 18 lead then another Fort kid hit a basket at the end of the half to make it FDHS 21, Staunton 18 at the break.

With Henry not in, Staunton scored the first four points of the second half to take a 22 – 21 lead.   The teams traded baskets until Ryan made a free throw to make it 24 – 22, FDHS, with three minutes to go as Henry finally got in.  He banked one in with 50 seconds to go in the quarter but then Staunton hit a three pointer to take a 29 – 27 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter.  Staunton scored first in the 4th so FDHS found themselves down by 4 for the first time, 31 – 27.  Fort had numerous opportunities to tie the game when the score was 34 – 32 but couldn’t get it to drop. At least the coach had Henry in during this time.  He drew one charge.  But Staunton scored again then held the ball a lot in the final three minutes.  They ended up getting another field goal and free throw to seal the win.  The fourth quarter was disastrous for Fort as SHS outscored them 13 – 5 to take a 42 – 32 win. 

January 28, 2021

Today I looked some more at the Bramwell WV website, particularly the pages which had my family tree on it.  That got me interested in genealogy and I spent several hours today trying to trace my ancestors back using information that other people have posted on the web.  I’m not sure I did it correctly, but I THINK I was able to trace back twelve generations to my relatives in England.  Before I list them all here, I’m going to try to verify some of this with my cousin Bev Aker who is our family genealogist.  If I’m right, I found some very interesting characters!

I also spent part of the day doing math.  Ann texted me that Henry was stuck on some math problems.  I texted him and he sent me a picture of his worksheet—26 problems involving math a little above Algebra II.  I taught that course (sometimes called Math Analysis, Pre-Calculus, or Algebra III) just about every year I taught school.  So for me this was fun—I doubt Henry would have called it such.  I worked all of his problems, scanned them as a .pdf, then e-mailed my solutions to him with directions for him to give me a call tonight so I could explain what I did on some of the problems.  He did so and we spent about 30 minutes going over them.  He said he had several more worksheets to do tomorrow so I invited him to send them to me, too.  I may be doing math all day tomorrow but that would be a lot of fun.

Today was bitterly cold, especially with the wind.  I didn’t venture outside the house for one second.  Lynn went to get ice cream with Ginny Bauman but I stayed bundled up here.  Brr…..

My post is short tonight:  besides math and genealogy, I didn’t do anything productive today.  We had leftover pizza for dinner so that was easy.   Lynn was the one bringing home the bacon today:  she had three separate Zoom interpreting sessions involving Rockingham County schools and Hispanic families.

She and I did spend some time planning a possible get-away in March, March 10 – 12, when our vaccinations are complete.  We’re looking at going to part of North Carolina we’ve never visited around Boone including Grandfather Mountain and Blowing Rock.  We found several things of interest to do there and went ahead and made hotel reservations though we can certainly change our mind.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

January 28          Infected                   Died

World             102,034,768           2,200,910

US                     26,338,607              443,769

Virginia               493,674                  6,308

Augusta County       4,688                       44

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               641,873  (88,410 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        4,246  (579 of whom got 2nd dose)

Once again, the US numbers are down somewhat, Virginia’s remain up, and Augusta County still has more infected people than vaccinated people.

January 29, 2021

Today was another blustery cold day so we didn’t do a lot.  Lynn had a long Zoom meeting about her student Juan Pablo.  Earlier we took a fast trip to Aldi to get some groceries. 

I once again spent some time playing with the genealogy resources that I could find for free online.  There are several paid services, such as ancestry.com, but I was able to find all I needed without joining them.  In fact, today I made a very fun discovery:

Lynn Hanger Hill and Joe Hill son of

Katherine Cook Hill and Herman Hill son of

Blanche Williamson Hill and Wiley McMillon Hill son of

Felix Shelton Hill and Nancy Dixon Hill daughter of

Alfred Dixon and Narcessa McMillon Dixon daughter of

James McMillon and Thursa Gambill daughter of

Captain Martin Gambill and Nancy Nall Gambill daughter of

Captain William Nall and Rebecca Holloway Nall daughter of

Frances Holloway and David Holloway, Jr. son of

David Holloway, Sr. and Elizabeth Frances Mathews Holloway daughter of

Elizabeth Matthews and Captain John Mathews son of

Commonwealth Governor Samuel Mathews and unknown wife

This is about Gov. Samuel Mathews from Wikipedia:
Samuel Mathews (1630–1660), of Warwick County in the English Colony of Virginia, was a member of the House of Burgesses, the Governor’s Council, and served as Commonwealth Governor of Virginia from 1656 to 1660. There was no Royal Governorship at this time, and the Governor technically answered to the Cromwellian Parliament, although Royalist sentiment was prevalent in the colony of Virginia at this time.

Later I did another search up the genealogy tree, this time trying to go through the Cook family.  Here’s what I found:

Lynn Hanger Hill (b. 1952) and Joe Hill (b. 1950) son of

Herman Wiley Hill (1912 – 1993) and Katherine Cook Hill (1914 – 1980)  daughter of

Joseph Sans Cook (1894 – 1961) and Frankie Lee Penland Cook (1895 – 1985) daughter of

Joseph D. Cook (1853 – 1909) and Norah Jane Goodson Cook (1874 – 1963) daughter of

Amanda Malvina Goodson and James Tazwell Goodson (1852 – 1928) son of

Julia Ann Goodson (b. 1817) and James Crawford Goodson (1818 – 1860) son of

Mary Goodson (1790  – 1844) and Thomas Goodson III (1791 – 1838) son of

Elizabeth Goodson (1761 – 1837) and Major Thomas Goodson (1755 – 1837) son of

Keziah Goodson (1735 – 1755) and Thomas Goodson (1735 – 1815) son of

Elza Goodson (b. 1705) and William Goodson (1705 – 1746) son of

Unknown mother and William Goodson (b. 1680) son of

Sarah Goodson (1655 – 1707) and John Goodson* (1647 – 1727) son of

William Goodson (b. 1607) son of

Thomas Goodson (b. 1585) son of

Thomas Goodson (b. 1550)

John was the first English physician to come under Penn’s charter., arriving shortly before William Penn. He is found noted as “chirurgeon” and Elder in Philadelphia Friends. He married twice, first to Sarah Pococke in 1671, record attached, and mother to his eldest children. After her passing, in 1711, he married Cicely Tittery in Philadelphia.

The last three Goodsons above lived in England.  It seems that every time I am able to trace my ancestry it ends up in England.

I invited Henry to send me some more math problems today and he said he’d do so if he got stuck on any of them but apparently he didn’t have any issues.  That’s a good thing, I suppose.  I enjoyed doing the problems from yesterday.  It is interesting how easily I forget some things—earlier today I couldn’t think of the name of the mobile device Lynn and I have taken many tours on (Segway)—but I can still remember how to factor, add, subtract, multiply, and divide polynomials.  Later I couldn’t remember the name of the store Valley Pike.

The mail has gotten to be so slow and unpredictable.  Yesterday Jim sent a photo of his calendar which had just arrived, over a month after I had sent it to him.  Butch finally got his today; Mary Katherine still haven’t gotten hers, sent at the same time.  Today Lynn and I waited until well past 3:00 to get our mail delivery at home.  Yet Amazon continues to get packages to us in just a day or two using UPS or FedEx.  I commented to Lynn today that we’re certifiably old now that we sit around and wait on the mail to come.

Tonight was hamburger night—Friday.  We got our usual burgers (Lynn got a bacon jalepeño burger and I got a Philly cheese one) from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.

We’ve been making some plans for our Greenbrier trip which will be from February 15 – 18.  Joining us there will be Paul and Sandy Porterfield, their daughter Emily, and John and Ginny Bauman.  Today Lynn called and made dinner reservations for us.  The issue is that the restaurants have limited seating now (50%) so we were lucky to grab what reservations were available for dinner:  8:30 on the 15th at The Forum (Italian) and 5:00 on the 16th at Draper’s (our favorite).  On the 17th we’re planning to go to Food and Friends in Lewisburg.

Paul and Sandy have their second vaccination shot on February 19.  John has his on February 18.  Ginny has already received both of hers.  Of course, Lynn and I have ours on the 15th

In the news, Johnson and Johnson are about ready to release their vaccine.  They say it is 66% effective compared to Pfizer and Moderna’s 95% effective though it has been shown to be 100% effective to prevent serious cases.  And, it requires only one dose and doesn’t have to be refrigerated.  It is also cheaper to produce.  Perhaps that is the vaccine our grandchildren will be receiving soon.

Here are today’s statistics:

January 29          Infected                   Died

World             102,554,416           2,213,589

US                     26,477,368              446,692

Virginia               497,912                  6,379

Augusta County       4,714                       45

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               697,914  (98,485 of whom got 2nd dose)  

            Augusta County        4,733  (648 of whom got 2nd dose)

Finally, Augusta County has more people vaccinated than infected. 

Tonight was another FDHS basketball game, this time against Riverheads for both JV and Varsity.  Last time they played, Fort JV team won but the varsity lost.  Tonight, Fort’s JV’s took an early10 – 2 lead and were up 12 – 6 at the end of the quarter.  Gus didn’t see any action.  He finally got in with 5:38 to go in the 2nd quarter.  He got to play the rest of the quarter.  He didn’t take any shots but had some nice passes and zero turnovers.  At the break they were ahead 22 – 12.  With Gus on the bench until a few seconds left in the quarter, the JV’s continued to dominate and led 33 – 19 going into the 4th quarter.  Gus had a chance to make two free throws in the 4th quarter but he missed both.  The game was never close; the final score was 36 – 26.

Ann’s family came to our house to watch the game so Lynn and I again watched it on my iPad in our bedroom using our Verizon signal while Ann’s used the WiFi on her phone and projected it to the downstairs TV using Airplay.

Henry started tonight for the first time.  Riverheads started out on fire while Fort was cold.  Soon it was 8 – 2 Riverheads.  But Fort whittled at the lead and even took a 10 – 9 lead at the end of the quarter.  Henry played about half the quarter.  He didn’t start the 2nd quarter and Riverheads hit the first eight points.  Henry then got in and made a nice move to close the score to 17 – 12.  Another FDHS turnover and Riverheads 3-pointer and the score was 20 – 12.  Ryan Cook really struggled throughout the half, missing everything he shot, and Riverheads took a 25 – 19 lead at the half. 

With Henry starting the second half, FDHS scored the first seven points to lead by one, 26 – 25.  A Tyreek 3-pointer then a steal and two pointer by Ryan made it 31 – 25 Fort before Riverheads scored a three point play.  Now it was Riverheads’ time to surge and they took a 33 – 32 lead before Tyreek hit a three pointer than a two pointer.  Ryan then hit one of two free throws on a technical foul.  Henry didn’t shoot as well as he usually does in this game.  He missed a few close in and was 1 – 2 from the free throw line.  Ryan hit two free throws with 15 seconds to go in the quarter to give FDHS a 43 – 39 lead but then Kaden Johnson fouled a player shooting a three pointer and he made two of his three free throws so the score going into the 4th quarter was Fort 43, Riverheads 41.  A Riverheads 3-pointer gave them the lead before Ryan drove to give FDHS the lead again, 45 – 44.  Tyreek then made a 3-point play followed by a Ryan layup to give FDHS a 50 – 44 lead but Riverheads came back with two easy layups to pull within two with 4:30 to go.  Henry went back in at this point.  Tyreek fired in another 3-pointer then Riverheads threw it away.  Tyreek was hot as a firecracker and hit another three to give Fort a 56 – 48 lead.  Josh Jones scored on a drive and was fouled.  His free throw gave FDHS a commanding 59 – 48 lead.  Riverheads scored with 1:53 to make it 59 – 50.  A Fort turnover followed by a Riverheads three pointer made it more interesting, 59 – 53 with 1:33 to go.  Josh hit a free throw then Riverheads hit another three pointer to make the score 60 – 56 with 1:08 to go.  Ryan missed the front end of a one and one with 54 seconds to go.  Tyreek then missed the first of two free throws before hitting the second.  After a Riverheads miss, Ryan hit one of two free throws but Fort rebounded the second miss.  His free throws with 16 seconds left iced the game 64 – 56.  It was a good revenge win for Fort though they have played better.  Tyreek Veney had a good game including the last two free throws of the game.  Final score, 66 – 56 FDHS.

January 30, 2021

The forecast is for a fairly major snowfall to hit us over the next 24 hours so today was spent taking care of things that we needed to do to prepare.  We started the morning by going to Dollar Tree in Staunton so Lynn could get a few items.  Then we were off to Central to pick up food for the Aguirre family.  While we were there I went in to check to see if there were any bills or other QuickBooks work that needed to be done.  I only had to update some information for two of our endowments so that didn’t take too long.  Then we went to Kroger for a 10:00 order pickup.  Then we drove to Elizabeth’s house to drop the food off.  The next stop was at the bank in Bridgewater to pick up cash for Gus’s 14th birthday which happens on Tuesday.  After returning home for lunch, I went to the dump with a stop at the Gutshall’s for their trash.

When we were at Elizabeth’s house she told us that Gilberto was coming home this week, perhaps on Monday if the roads were OK.  That was excellent news!

The Waynesboro newspaper has been good about having stories of the local high school basketball games in its online edition.  Today’s story about last night’s game had two pictures with the article and both had Henry in both of them.  It think it was significant that the coach started him last night and I hope he’ll recognize that when he is on the floor the team does better.  Henry doesn’t make the stupid mistakes some of his teammates makes.  He rebounded and played defense well last night.

Last night there was nothing good on television so Lynn and I turned to Netflix and watched a movie called Like Father.  It was fair, not worth paying money to see.  But we have enjoyed the Netflix option during this pandemic.  It’s one of the nice discoveries we’ve made during these tough times.

I got two e-mails back from Bev Aker about the genealogy information I sent to her.  She had a minor correction for one of the ancestors I listed but said she’d spend more time reviewing it.  She said of the lineage that I presented which went back to the Governor of Virginia that I had actually gone a few steps beyond what she had found.

I had time today to work on a couple of computer projects before the WVU – Florida basketball game came on.  It was a good game but the Mountaineers let it slip away in the last two minutes.  They lost 85 – 80. 

Lynn fixed a big dinner tonight including a chicken casserole, a corn casserole, and a salad.  She fixed enough for us to eat it for at least one more day if not more.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

January 30          Infected                   Died

World             103,072,832           2,226,564

US                     26,635,116              449,918

Virginia               502,221                  6,449

Augusta County       4,741                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               758,477  (109,465 of whom got 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        5,380  (699 of whom got 2nd dose)

A statistic I’ve kept up with for months is what percent of local cases are fatal.  Today, for the first time in ages, that percent crept above 1%.  The other trends are unchanged with the US number of infections dropping but Virginia’s remaining high.  Mutations of COVID-19 are popping up in many states.  The only positive is that the Johnson and Johnson will apply for emergency authorization for its vaccination next week and they have millions of doses ready to be shipped.  More than 90,000 lives were lost in the month of January to the virus, the highest of any month yet.

The evening forecast is for us to receive 4” – 8” of snow plus a glazing of ice starting overnight.  Tomorrow travel will be near impossible.  Thankfully, as far as I know, we won’t need to leave home.

January 31, 2021

Our snowfall was the most of the season, around 6 inches.  But we were warm, well fed, and had nowhere to go so it was just a day of staying inside.

Being house-bound is nothing new in this era, of course.  The pandemic has taught me how to spent, i.e. waste, my time.  I’ve got my standbys:  Sudoku, Whirly Word, Solitaire, Facebook, etc.  I tune to CNN and hear the news over and over.  And I write this blog…

Lynn kept busy today baking and washing clothes.  She is not a person to sit around.  She has always had an excellent work ethic.  She puts me to shame.

Lynn ordered a bird feeder from Amazon last week.  Yesterday I moved a metal flower pot hanger to a place in our backyard that is easily visible for her to hang the bird feeder from.  Also, while we were out yesterday, we bought some bird seed.  So now we have a feeder set up but, so far, I’ve not seen a single bird take advantage of it.  Her mother was always a real friend of the birds; it seems like Lynn is now following in her footsteps.  Today she put her boots on and cleaned the snow off the feeder so the birds could eat but still the feeder has had no business.

One habit I’ve gotten into for the past couple of months is to drink a cup of coffee, courtesy of my Keurig, mid-afternoon.  This keeps me from snacking all afternoon and it is a very low calorie treat.  Lynn hates the smell of coffee so I make it in the garage and drink it in the basement, usually. 

I got my exercise this afternoon—shoveled snow for over an hour.  Wonderful neighbor Bee Myers plowed the main stretch of our driveway so I finished it off and did all of the sidewalks.  This snow wasn’t a real heavy snow but there was about 6” of it.  By shoveling the layer of snow off it early like this the rest will melt thanks to the sun’s radiance. 

Lynn got word that the church that was doing a fundraiser for Emily and Gilberto had been extremely successful—over $10,000 for them.  That is so great and shows that not everyone in this section of Virginia is a far right immigrant-hater. 

Mary K. got her calendar yesterday.  We also had mailed one to Lynn’s sister Jane who is in Florida but we haven’t heard if she got hers or not.  It took over a month for the three to get to my family members.

Today we lost our Dish network.  When I checked, the receiver was covered in snow and I wasn’t about to climb on the roof to clean it off.  My initial thoughts were that we’d just have to wait until it melts and that could be a while given the forecast.  In the meantime, our internet connection is still steady and, if we had to get a tv connection, I verified that the antenna on top of our house still works so I could connect a tv to it for local channels.  The DVR still works and Lynn has a ton of things recorded so I knew we’d be fine.  Strangely, Dish worked all through the storm and didn’t go out until this afternoon after the storm had passed.

After living without a working television for a few hours, I decided to see if I could fix the situation and came up with a plan.  I used duct tape to attach a long stick to the end of a broom, making about a 10 foot long broom.  Then I opened the window in Lynn’s sewing room, stuck my contraption outside and found I could just reach the dish.  I was able to clean the snow away and, amazingly, our tv’s returned to normal. 

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the US dipped below 100,000 for the first time in two months.  Maybe the vacinations are starting to make a difference.  Almost 30,000,000 have been administered in the US (including two in this household!).   Here are today’s numbers:

January 31          Infected                   Died

World             103,507,287           2,236,975

US                     26,767,229              452,225

Virginia               504,779                  6,464

Augusta County       4,754                       48

            Vaccinated

            Virginia               805,695  (117,134 of whom got 2nd dose)

            Augusta County        5,939  (743 of whom got 2nd dose)

Over the past several years I have constructed treasure hunts for Ann’s kids on their birthdays.  The end of the hunt, of course, is the present Lynn and I have gotten for each of them.  Years ago I started connecting the treasure hunt to math problems so each would have to solve some problem in order to find the next clue.  Earlier in this blog I mentioned that for Henry’s birthday this year it was a Spanish treasure hunt instead of a math one.  But with Gus’ 14th birthday coming up this Tuesday, I knew it would be best to make him a math hunt.  The problem is that the kids haven’t really spent time in our house since COVID-19 so an inside treasure hunt is out of the picture.  And, the snow and cold weather will prevent us from having an outside hunt like we did for Betsy, Freddie, and Henry.  So I came up with the idea of hiding his present in the garage then sending him a math worksheet to complete before he comes this week.  The answers to the worksheet will enable him to decode the location of the present using a decoder sheet I’ll give him when he comes.  I verified with him that he was currently in Algebra I class so I made his problems appropriate for that level.  I hope it works out OK for him.  He’s a good kid! And I’m a crazy grandfather for making him do math problems in order to get his present….

 

December 2020: Life in the COVID-19 era

December 1, 2020

Today was the coldest day we’ve had since last winter so, indeed, I did turn on the boiler this morning.  The high for the day was in the 30’s and the wind was fairly stiff, too, which made for cold walking.

I spent the morning at Central though I didn’t get as much done as I hoped.  I had hoped to get the four bank reconciliations done today but first the bank’s website was down then two of the statements which are posted online were late getting there so we got only two of them done.  I wanted to show Savannah how to do these but even the two we did together were problematic because of an error the previous bookkeeper had made plus one I had done last month.  I’m likely going to return on Thursday to get more done.

Meanwhile Lynn had her friends over and they shivered outside.  It will be so nice when we can once again have company indoors!  She and Cheryl Kent did work inside later in the morning on making some porch signs they are going to donate to the local thrift shop, Karis.

Afterwards she and I went on an errand-running short jaunt to Bridgewater.  We had to go to the bank, Dollar Tree, and Walmart.  The reason for the bank stop was to get some cash to give to the Jiminez family.  Gilberto is still in the hospital and Elizabeth is in quarantine so neither is earning any money. 

We ate an early dinner.  Lynn had made pork barbecue which we had with cole slaw and she made macaroni and cheese.  It is no wonder I have gained a few pounds.  I’m certainly not going to be exercising outside in 30 degree weather.

Our plans to watch the last two episodes of Virgin River were thrwarted last night when Netflix didn’t play the recordings correctly.  A message came on the screen to try again later so perhaps we’ll see them tonight.

Tomorrow we have to get up early and get on the road.  We’re slated to wrap presents at The Greenbrier as part of their Christmas gifts program which Central is participating in.  We’ve done this every year for many years.  Usually we end up staying there the night we wrap but not this year.  We’re just going to wrap then come back home.

With the vaccines almost in sight it is easy to start thinking of normal life again.  Of course, it may be several months before this happens, but when it does I promise to not take many things for granted that I did prior to March.  It will be such fun to have our children and grandchildren visit us again.  Faron and Coen haven’t been here since Thanksgiving in 2019.  Thomas and Georgia have been here a few times but haven’t stayed and have generally been outside the whole time.  Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie rarely come inside our house now.  If they do, it’s just a quick stop in our basement to update their PlayStation or print something for school.  It will be so nice to sit here at the kitchen table and hear them giggling together downstairs or getting ready for bed upstairs.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

December 1         Infected                   Died

World               64,116,481           1,484,816

US                     14,069,495              276,452

Virginia               240,063                  4,093

Augusta County       1,231                       12

Just as I had warned, the numbers have jumped a good bit probably because of delayed reporting.  Virginia’s total cases increased by 2,200 and deaths by 31.  Augusta’s cases increased by over 50 and had one more death.  Nationwide, more than 96,000 are hospitalized, a record.

I’ve looked back through my photo album to see when we started this tradition.  It was at least fifteen years ago that Lynn and I started hosting a family Christmas party.  Over the years we outgrew our house and moved it to different venues.  For the past several years it has been at Central.  Lynn always goes to great lengths to plan these parties, each with a theme that she gathers decorations for throughout the previous year.  For many years we’ve hired the same Santa Claus to visit our party and we’ve taken lots of photos with him.  Alas, this year there will be no Hill-Hanger Christmas Party.  The theme was going to be “The Smallest Christmas Tree” which is based on a book Lynn was going to give to each family.  I guess she will just keep that theme for 2021.

ABC news tonight reported that CDC voted today on who should be vaccinated first.  No surprise, those who are to get it first are seniors in nursing and long term healthcare homes and health care workers.  Actually, these are only recommendations; states can decide for themselves who gets the vaccines.  There are 40,000,000 doses expected in December which won’t be enough for everyone in these two categories.

The CDC also recommended today that if you have been exposed to someone positive, if you can get a negative test you only have to quarantine for seven days.  If you can’t get a test, you should quarantine for ten days. 

December 2, 2020

Sure enough, we were on the road south around 7:00 AM this morning.  Our wrapping time at the Greenbrier didn’t start until 10:00 so we had time to stop at three Dollar Tree stores since Lynn was looking for some more Christmas items.  We stopped in Lexington, Covington, then drove to Lewisburg for the one there before coming back to White Sulphur Springs in plenty of time for our appointment.  As always, at the Dollar Tree stores she shopped while I stayed in the driver’s seat.  We stopped for gas in Fairfield where it was only $1.82 per gallon.  The app Gas Buddy always helps us find the cheapest gas when we’re traveling.

The ride on I-64 West is always such a nice ride.  There is never any traffic and the mountainous scenery is great.  The weather was very nice today, too, which just made it a very pleasurable trip. 

We wrapped from 10:00 until 11:30. That’s not a lot but is actually in excess of that which we were required to do for the number of presents Lynn ordered.  She’s ordered over 200 of them; I don’t have any idea how they will be distributed because Central only has around 5-6 children.   But she and Pastor Won have some plan in mind for getting them in the hands of needy children.  We return to the Greenbrier in two weeks to pick them up.

We ate lunch at the Greenbrier.  At least that’s what we can tell our friends.  Actually, we ate our yogurt from the cooler we had taken along with us while still sitting in the parking lot of the place at the Greenbrier where we wrapped.  So technically we ate there though it was far from being the fine dining we’re used to receiving there.

We had to hustle back because Lynn had two Zoom appointments with teachers/students in Rockingham County in the middle of the afternoon.  We got back in plenty of time.  Afterwards, she and her friend Ginny Bauman took a walk in the neighborhood while I picked up Gus and took him to basketball practice at Fort Defiance High School.

I told Gus as we drove there that I hated how teenagers like him had a year of their teens yanked from them by COVID-19.  These students have had little in-person schooling, visitng with friends, ball games, shows, concerts, etc. for nearly a full year.  It’s been a little risky for Henry and him to participate in basketball practice and for Betsy to still do in-person dance lessons in Staunton three nights a week but I’m glad they at least have this. 

I have been given two food/drink advent calendars.  Lynn got me a coffee calendar so every day from December 1 through Christmas I have a new coffee to try in my Keurig.  Today I tried the first one (I’m already a day late) and it was apple pie flavored coffee!  I’ve never had anything like that before.  I don’t know that I’d go out a buy multiple pounds of this yet but it was a different taste than I’m used to.  The other calendar is a jelly calendar from Ann.  She had given me one last year in which every day I get a small jar of a unique jelly for my toast.  I will likely get into this year’s version of this jelly calendar tomorrow.

Lynn hurt her back somehow and has been in pain for the past 24 hours.  It hasn’t stopped her but has slowed her down.  It especially hurts when she bends over to pick something up.  I suppose it’s a muscle injury that will get better over time.

I’ve known her for 46 years.  She’s never been very sick or hurt.  Yet this year she had suffered through a broken foot and now a hurt back.  It is very strange for me to hear her complain about pain.  She takes zero prescriptions and is probably the healthiest person I know.  I’m so sorry she is hurting now.  But she never lets sickness or pain stop her and that’s why she went walking with Ginny this afternoon.

We did finish season 2 last night of Virgin River.  Of course, its final moments left several things up in the air to attract viewers to watch season 3.  I’m sure we will.

Lynn and I were supposed to see two Christmas plays today and one tomorrow at The Barter Theatre.  Of course, these were canceled.  The Barter has been nice enough to take our 2020 tickets and turn them into 2021 tickets.  I sure hope we get to use them to see our allotment of twelve shows in 2021.

Between her pain, Lynn still was able to produce four porch signs over the past two days.  She used her Cricut to create a stencil for the letters she put vertically on each 36” board (NOEL on two and JOY on the other two).  Then she painted the letters and sprayed each board with polyurethane.  These are the boards she is donating to Karis.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are nearly at 100,000 in the US.  Here are today’s statistics:

December 2         Infected                   Died

World               64,742,493           1,496,987

US                     14,270,110              279,320

Virginia               242,480                  4,113

Augusta County       1,262                       12

Same old, same old.

Lynn heard from Elizabeth that Gilberto is doing better at UVA though he still is on the ventilator.  He is improving and may be off the ventilator in one of the upcoming days.

Tonight was Zoom night.  I was also very interested in watching the WVU – Gonzaga basketball game (Gonzaga is ranked #1 in the US) so I texted the kids to see if they wanted to Zoom or not.  Kay suggested we Zoom earlier so we did.

December 3, 2020

The Mountaineers gave Gonzaga a good run for the money last night but they wilted in the last ten minutes.  After leading most of the first 75% of the game, they got into foul trouble and, as always, had trouble hitting jump shots.  They lost 87-82.

ABC news said the last 24 hours were the deadliest since the pandemic began.  There were more than 192,000 new cases and over 100,000 currently hospitalized.  More than 2,800 Americans died which is a record.  Many hospitals are full.  Some states are reinstituting lockdowns. 

Some good news is that Biden has asked Dr. Fauci to stay on in his current role when he takes office.  Everyone who is not an idiot trusts Dr. Fauci. 

As vaccines are about to be rolled out—twenty million Pfizer vaccines will be issued in the US in December if approved by the FDA—the issue still remains of how to convince the anti-vaxers that it is safe.   Former Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama have volunteered to take it on camera if it would help Americans feel safe taking it.  Tonight Biden said he would, too, as long as Dr. Fauci says it is safe.

Lynn’s back has been hurting again today.  She hasn’t abandoned her heavy work schedule but I see her wince in pain frequently, especially when she bends over.  I think this is just a muscle injury that is going to take time to get over but she probably needs to take it easy for a while.

I did banking work at Central UMC today and paid a few bills.  I’m pretty much caught up with my bookkeeping work there.  I’m puzzled as to why we haven’t gotten bills from the credit card companies and will likely investigate that tomorrow.

I will be heading there tomorrow because Lynn and I are going to shop at Costco for Central tomorrow morning during senior hour.  The Food Pantry wants more sugar, coffee, and tea bags.  The custodian Janet wants Chlorox wipes, disinfectant spray, and paper towels.

This afternoon, after Freddie was picked up by Josh from school, we made a quick trip to the Jiminez house in Mt. Solon to take a few things to them since they are all quarantined.  Elizabeth asked us to get some cough syrup for Nathan which we did on the way there.  She hadn’t heard from UVA about Gilberto yet today but that is understood to be good news.

Here are the statistics for today:

December 3         Infected                   Died

World               65,491,337           1,510,729

US                     14,527,346              282,679

Virginia               244,503                  4,147

Augusta County       1,294                       12

I noted above that ABC said the US had over 2,800 new deaths.  According to the site I use, worldometers.info, that number topped 3,300. Virginia had more than 2,000 new cases and 34 deaths in the past 24 hours.

You’d think that by today, over five weeks after Election Day, Trump would have conceded and congratulated Joe Biden for his win.  No surprise, he’s done neither.  He still rants and tweets about “massive fraud” even though his own attorney general and usual bosom buddy, Bill Barr, told the Associated Press that the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election, disputing Trump’s persistent, baseless claims.  Barr’s comments, in an interview with the The Associated Press, contradict the concerted effort by Trump, his boss, to subvert the results of last month’s voting and block President-elect Joe Biden from taking his place in the White House.  Barr told the AP that U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Lynn and I are planning a quick trip to Arlington this Saturday to drop off some things for Thomas and Georgia as long as her back can make the ride.  We’re not planning on being in Arlington for longer than a half hour.

December 4, 2020

Lynn and I did some brainstorming this evening on what we’ll do when this pandemic is behind us.  Here is a list we came up with in about five minutes:

  1. Go out to eat in restaurants
  2. Go to shows at the Barter Theatre
  3. Travel in and out of the US
  4. Invite family over for dinner
  5. Attend grandkids’ events (ball games, dance shows, etc.)
  6. Go to church
  7. Visit with relatives including those at The Legacy
  8. Take grandchildren to their activities (dance, sports, etc. practices)
  9. Go to Broadway in Richmond shows
  10.  Take classes (sewing, embroidering, etc.)
  11.  Visit with friends and neighbors
  12.  Invite friends into our house
  13.  Shop in stores we’ve been avoiding such as those in Harrisonburg
  14.  Go to the Greenbrier for a couple of days
  15.  Check out the new library in Weyers Cave
  16.  Resume tutoring students and helping in-person at schools
  17.  Offer to present math programs at middle school
  18.  Visit Butch in Ohio and Mary K. in Altoona
  19.  Schedule vacations with kids (Puerto Rico, Lancaster, etc.)
  20.  Arrange to meet Porterfields and Koerners somewhere
  21.  Go to a movie
  22.  Invite grandchildren to spend the night with us
  23.  Volunteer for more things at Central
  24.  Eat lunch with grandchildren at their schools
  25.  Host a big family event (Easter Egg Hunt, Christmas Party, etc.)

I’m sure there are many more things we’ll enjoy but obviously these twenty five are things we’ve missed a lot since mid-March.

We got our monthly statement today from Edward Jones where our retirement money is invested.  We were very much surprised—since Biden was elected our retirement account increased over 6% in must one month.  That’s a phenomenal increase.  I’m sure it won’t change but it does throw cold water on the idea that Biden will cause the stock market to go bust.

Today was Friday so we repeated our new tradition of getting hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  They were delicious, as usual.

We also got official notification that our Medicare Part B prescription drug plan had been successfully switched to an Aetna plan starting January 1.  This will save us lots of money.  We’ve learned that every year we have to evaluate whether to stay with our current plan or change.  Fortunately, the website medicare.gov makes it easy to make that decision.

We tried to line up visiting with some of our family tomorrow because there’s really nothing on our agenda.  Lynn got things ready to take to Thomas and Georgia but today Kay messaged that tomorrow wouldn’t be good for them as they had a full day of activities scheduled.  Then we texted Jim about visiting with him to take some items but he is likewise going to be busy.  He’s proctoring SAT tests all morning.

Today was a wet day.  The temperatures were in the 40’s but it seemed much colder.  If I am this cold with the outside temperature in the 40’s I know I’ll be shivering when the temperature gets in the 20’s and below.

Lynn and I made a Costco run first thing this morning where I got several items for our Food Pantry and she got a few things for our grandchildren.  After returning home, I went on to Central where I got several QuickBooks tasks done.  I like working there on Fridays because it is quiet—both the administrative assistant and custodian work Mondays – Thursdays.

I made a run to the dump in Jim’s truck today.  It ran well.  As always, I stopped at the Gutshall’s to both check on the kids since Fridays are days the youngest three are by themselves all day as well as pick up their garbage.

Augusta County Schools have delayed the start of high school sports again.  Henry will be playing varsity basketball this year and Gus will be playing JV.   Their tryouts are beginning next week, I believe.  Their seasons were supposed to start December 20 but now this has been postponed until January 7.  The varsity will play a 14 game schedule if all goes well.  Only 25 fans will be allowed into the gym to watch but the games will be livestreamed.  I’m looking forward to watching—if the games are actually played.  With COVID-19 so many scheduled events have been called off.

ABC news reported tonight that record highs continue.  This was the deadliest 24 hours yet in the pandemic–2,800 deaths in just one day.  The CDC says people need to wear masks anytime they go indoors outside of their own house and even in their own house if someone there was been exposed.  Virginia was one of 26 states with a record number of hospitalizations in one week.   

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics according to worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

December 4         Infected                   Died

World               66,176,513           1,523,198

US                     14,749,236              285,377

Virginia               247,380                  4,160

Augusta County       1,339                       12

Fifty Augusta County residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.  The spike in these numbers is probably from the Thanksgiving season where people let their guard down and had large family gatherings.   It is quite a spike—Virginia had 2,800 new cases and 23 more deaths.  Augusta County had 45 new cases just in the past 24 hours.

December 5, 2020

The back pain got to be too much for Lynn today so she opted to go to the Urgent Care center.  The one in Weyers Cave is currently closed down due to a COVID-19 outbreak so we had to go into the one in Staunton near Krogers.  We went there first thing this morning.  The doctor there told her it was very likely a strain and prescribed a pain pill and a muscle relaxation medicine.  He did not take x-rays since there was little chance of a broken vertebrae since she had experienced no trauma.  I really think what did her in was helping me lift the pergola swings onto the rafters in the shed.  We were able to pick up her prescriptions at Walgreens on the way home and she took the first dose as soon as she could.

The one issue that contributes to her pain is that she won’t slow down or quit doing things.  Her back doesn’t have a chance to heal.  She really struggles to bend over and can’t pick up anything that hits the floor.  I’ve tried to be helpful.

She and I did go back out mid-afternoon to Costco and to a Dollar General in Weyers Cave.  Again, she refuses to rest though she did come home and lie down.  For one thing, the muscle relaxer apparently was making her sleepy.  Plus, she didn’t sleep well last night.

We chatted with Butch several times this morning and it looks like he’s going to be heading this way tomorrow for a few days.  I hope his visit is as good as it was last month.  We bought a ham, hashed brown potatoes, and some green beans to cook for Sunday night’s dinner.

For me, it was WVU football this afternoon.  The Mountaineers played Iowa State.  They were ranked #9 in the US and the game was in Ames, IA.  The Cyclones were a big favorite to win.  They didn’t disappoint their fans—they kicked my Mountaineers’ butts, 42-6.  They dominated in every aspect of the game.  It was a very poor performance for WVU who couldn’t throw, catch, tackle, or defend.

At halftime, I hustled to Cracker Barrel to pick up the order Lynn called in.  It was our regular $12.76 dinner consisting of country ham biscuits and sides.  What a bargain!

Lynn seems to be doing better thanks to the meds she started taking today.  I think they make her pain more bearable. 

I keep reading more about Trump’s unending work at trying to overturn the election.  Today it was reported that he called the Georgia Governor this morning and asked him to get the Georgia legislature to throw out the election.  Then he tweeted that he would easily and quickly win the election if the Governor and Secretary of State (both Republicans and former Trump supporters) would simply audit the signatures on Georgia’s mail in ballots.  Then he tweeted that “if we win Georgia everything else will fall into place.”  Can’t the man read—he lost Georgia, he lost Pennsylvania, he lost Wisconsin, he lost Michigan, he lost Nevada, he lost Virginia, he lost the election.  He lost the popular vote by over 5,000,000.  The electoral college count is 306 to 232.  He LOST!

For the umpteenth day in a row, I’m cold today.  The outside temperature tonight is 38o and the inside temperature is 70o and I’m sitting in front of our kitchen’s gas fireplace insert with the fire roaring behind me.  I’m wearing a coat on top of my clothes.  I hate to be cold.  It makes me grumpy and depressed.  I eat more, sit more, and grumble more when I’m cold.  I’m no fun to be around when I’m cold.

Here are today’s pandemic stats:

December 5         Infected                   Died

World               66,832,931           1,533,741

US                     14,981,767              287,825

Virginia               251,173                  4,197

Augusta County       1,399                       12

A note on the Virginia Department of Health website said that “the 3,793 new case count reported on Saturday, December 5 is due to some results being backlogged.” 

I used a link on the CNN website today to enter zip codes for the following locations and retrieved these statistics.  Recall that in Virginia the cities (Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Waynesboro) are not considered part of the counties which surround them thus their statistics are separate.

CountyAugustaRockinghamMercer WVAthens OHBlair PA
Population74,70179,44460,48665,936123,842
Density Per Sq Mile7793144131236
Median Income$61,305$59,817$39,372$37,778$47,969
COVID-19 Cases1,3392,4171,4232,2564,725
COVID-19 Deaths123639478
COVID-19 % Infected1.8%3.0%2.4%3.4%3.8%
City/CountyStauntonHarrisonburgWaynesboroMonongalia
Population24,45253,39121,926105,252
Density Per Sq Mile1,2273,0791,465292
Median Income$48,049$43,893$45,738$49,926
COVID-19 Cases1,0243,5296783,490
COVID-19 Deaths133877
COVID-19 % Infected4.2%6.6%3.1%3.3%

Very interesting.  I’m noting that where we live has the lowest % infected and the highest median income of all the locations.  Augusta also has the lowest population density of any of any of these locations.  Mercer County has the lowest population of any of the counties but has more deaths than any except Blair which is twice as large.  Mercer had an outbreak in a nursing home which caused many to die.  Rockingham, though next door to Augusta and similar in population, density, and income, has three times the number of deaths.  Harrisonburg City, with the highest population density, has nearly three times the number of cases of Augusta County though it has a lower population.  Athens has the fewest number of deaths but more population than any of the cities.

Lest I start thinking that we’re relatively safe here in Mount Sidney, I have to admit that we spend a lot of time in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Harrisonburg which are all riskier places than Augusta County.

December 6, 2020

We welcomed a return visit from Butch today.  He got here this afternoon around 3:00 in his new Tesla.  It is an amazing car as he has described it; perhaps tomorrow I can take a ride with him in it.

The weather was good enough to take a walk shortly after he got here so we did our usual two mile hike.  The temperature was around 40 but we had bundled up well and didn’t get cold.  There was no wind which always helps.

Tonight we called Mary K.  She seemed well and coherent.  She is over her COVID-19 scare for the time being since she tested negative last week. 

This morning we stayed home then left in time to get our communion and food from Central at 12:15 PM.  Pastor Won, Millie Brown, and Connie Davis had fixed a lot of food to hand out.  In our bag we got a quart of BBQ, a quart of potato soup, two chicken salad biscuits, a big box of cookies, and a nice tree ornament.  We are lucky to be associated with such nice people.

We also did some shopping at Aldi’s and Kroger for food item for tonight’s dinner.  Lynn fixed a really nice meal consisting of ham, potato casserole, and green beans.  Plus she made Focacia bread.  For dessert we had hot chocolate and some of Millie’s cookies.  There was plenty of ham so we invited Ann to come by and pick up some.  She got some potato casserole and some of the bread, too. 

Lynn also baked two loaves of bread today and a batch of English muffins.  We’ll be eating well for the next few days, for sure.  Jim texted that he would drive up tomorrow to see Butch and pick up some things that were delivered here for his boys. 

I haven’t been in touch with the news today so I’m not sure if anything new is going on.  Here are today’s coronavirus statistics from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

December 6         Infected                   Died

World               67,369,303           1,541,336

US                     15,153,522              288,892

Virginia               255,053                  4,200

Augusta County       1,437                       12

Tomorrow Butch is going to have a look at our funny circuit again.  Oddly, it has been performing fine since it went out then back on two weeks ago.   Our outside Christmas lights come on and go off just as they’re supposed to.   Tonight he also fixed a light that Lynn had brought from her Mom’s apartment which needed its wiring re-worked.

December 7, 2020

I rode with Butch to Staunton this morning in his Tesla.  It is an amazing vehicle—it will literally drive itself, steering, adjusting speed, stopping at lights, etc.  When you stop at a light, it knows when the light turns green and beeps if you don’t start moving forward.  It has something like five camera which keep a close watch on everything near to you in all directions.  Of course, it will park itself.  There is no instrument panel, just a laptop-like touch screen.  You can set it to always stay at the posted speed limit (or always drive +/- x mph from the speed limit) and it will take care of that for you.  He did tell me he paid more for the car than he did for his house which he bought 36 years ago.

We went to Staunton because I had to do the CUMC deposit in QuickBooks since the Counters did their weekly job this morning.  Butch wanted to charge his Tesla; there are eight “super charging” stations at the Sheetz in Staunton.

It took each of us about 30 minutes to get our jobs done so we were soon back at home.  Earlier we had taken a look at the mystery electrical circuit.  As I’ve noted before, the circuit is working fine now and it continued to work fine this morning.  He checked out nearly all of the outlets on the circuit but found nothing suspicious.  Since it was working OK we abandoned further work on it.

In the afternoon, Butch went upstairs to take a short nap and I came to the basement and watched a recorded basketball game WVU played against Georgetown last night.  I knew the outcome before I started (WVU won) and was able to fast forward through the commercials and slower parts of the game.

Lynn’s back is doing better though she did have an upset stomach last night which she blamed as a side effect of her pain medication.  So she stopped taking that pill but still took her muscle relaxing pill.  She stayed busy today fixing pepperoni rolls for Butch to take back to Wiley and sewing some items for him and me.

Tonight we had planned on getting dinner as take-out but it turns out that both of our top two picks, Chicano Boy and The Depot, are closed on Mondays.  So we settled for Italian food from Vito’s in Penn Laird.  Butch paid for it all.

We were joined at dinner by Jim who drove up to eat with us, visit with Butch, and pick up a package for his boys he had delivered here.  It was good to chat together and made me realize how much I miss more family discussions.

America had a million new cases of COVID-19 in the first five days of December, ABC news reported tonight.  Dr. Fauci says Christmas will be worse than Thanksgiving.  An alarming number of health care workers are catching coronavirus, they reported.  ABC also reported that earlier this summer the Trump administration turned down the offer to buy more Pfizer vaccinations and now they’ve been sold to the European Union.  It may be June before the US can buy more of Pfizer’s.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 7         Infected                   Died

World               67,903,938           1,549,620

US                     15,351,692              290,377

Virginia               258,870                  4,208

Augusta County       1,466                       12

When I glance back at this chart in my posts during September or October, it was common then for Virginia’s number of cases from one day to the next to increase by 800 – 100.  From yesterday to today it was 3,817.   We are unquestionably undergoing the worst part of this pandemic.  Yet there is a certain fatigue among Americans about dealing with this.  I admit that Lynn and I have gotten more willing to go into retail stores, especially grocery stores.  I no longer put on gloves to put gas in our vehicles.  Yet our good friend Mary Gooden now has a positive test result though she said she had been nowhere except for a few grocery stores and her part-time work and she has always worn a mask.

This is all scary.  It would be so terrible for us to get COVID-19 now with the vaccine in the foreseeable future after having avoided it so well for the past ten months.

December 8, 2020

Today was a full day of enjoying Butch’s expertise and work ethic.  We ended up doing electrical work all day.  That is, he did electrical work and I watched.  The big issue today was that the wiring had not been done correctly in our kitchen years and years ago so that in order to turn on the main light you had to always turn it off from the same switch it had been turned on from previously regardless of where that switch was.  And since two of the switches were at opposite ends of the room, sometimes you’d have to walk completely across the kitchen, flip a switch, then walk back and flip the original one just to get the light on.  The goal today was to get it so that you could turn the light on/off from any of the three switches without having to touch any others.  It took nearly all day but ended with success.  We ended up buying a new switch from Lowe’s and checking each individual wire to see where it ran to/from.  But he finally got it all figured out.

Along the way there were other issues.  In finding the right breaker for the kitchen light, I flipped off all of the breakers in the box one by one.  One of them wouldn’t turn back on.  He figured out that the breaker was just bad.  Fortunately, we had a spare breaker so he replaced it.  Then our mystery circuit started acting up again with power only to part of the circuit.  Reworking the breaker for that circuit seemed to fix that problem but I’m going to keep my fingers crossed.

Lynn got her hair cut first thing this morning while we started on the kitchen light issue.   She later rode into Staunton in Butch’s Tesla so we could go to Kroger’s and Lowe’s.  Plus we made a stop at Kay Carter’s house to give her a recommendation on how to get an outside outlet installed at her house.  She was as impressed with Butch’s car as I. 

The weather has been too cold to walk outside. From the inside today it looked OK and the temperature was around 40o.  But there was a 10-20 mph cold wind which would have made walking miserable.  By the end of the week we’re supposed to be back in the mid 50’s but it’s a shame the weather was so cold while Butch was here.

Connie also came to clean today.  It was almost comical for all of us to avoid the others as Lynn tried to get her things done, Butch and I worked on the wiring, and Connie cleaned.  But in the end everything worked out.

Josh picked up Freddie today so we didn’t have to decide on whether to let him play in our basement or not.  I think it will be fine for him to do so when it is too cold for him to be outside.  He loves to play Wii.

Lynn’s back seemed to be getting better yesterday but today she was still hurting.  She bought some heating pads from WalGreens this afternoon which are supposed to last 16 hours.  Plus her stomach was a little upset today like it was two days ago even though she quit taking the pain pills that she thought were the cause of her indigestion then.

At 6:00 tonight I had a called Zoom meeting of the Central Church Council.  They wanted to discuss whether to keep the Sunday morning services or put them on pause for a while.  They decided to halt in-person worship services for the remainder of December and all of January.  But they decided to keep the Food Pantry and Trinity Luncheons going.  I think all of those decisions were wise.  All of the morning worship services will still be recorded and posted online.

After the meeting I had to scramble to clean up the minutes I took, send them to Savannah so she can forward to Council members tomorrow, then change the website to show that this decision had been made.

The meeting, minutes, and website work took an hour in total.  That was just enough time for Butch and Lynn to finish watching the news.  So I invited them to come to the basement and watch the first episode of The Queen’s Gambiton Netflix.  Butch hasn’t used his Netflix subscription much but today he was showing me how he can even watch it on his Tesla (when he’s not driving, of course).  While Lynn was in Kroger’s we watched a few minutes of it so I knew he would like the entire episode.  Indeed it was very good.

A Facebook post today listed the Deadliest Days in American History:  1. Galveston Hurricane (8,000 deaths)  2.  Antietam (3,600)  3.  September 11, 2001 (2,977)  4.  Last Thursday (2,861)  5.  Last Wednesday (2,762)  6.  Last Tuesday (2,461)  7.  Last Friday (2,439)  8.  Pearl Harbor (2,403).  This is quite telling…

Here are today’s statistics:

December 8         Infected                   Died

World               68,546,830           1,562,031

US                     15,589,674              293,363

Virginia               262,730                  4,260

Augusta County       1,527                       13

I realize that the worldometers.info numbers differ some from the Johns Hopkins and others but if these numbers are true then Pearl Harbor just got bumped to #9 in the list of deadliest days.  In fact, today would now be in third place for deadliest days.  Virginia had a whopping increase of 3,900 new cases including 61 new ones in Augusta County!  Wow, this thing is getting out of hand.

December 9, 2020

We said goodbye to Butch first thing this morning as he headed back to Ohio.  I really enjoy his company and am so glad he came.  He fixed a lamp, circuit, and an especially tricky light switch setup for us but that’s not why I’m glad he came.  I’m glad he came just to talk and eat together.  I’ve said many times that I wish Athens OH and Mt. Sidney were much closer.  We tried to spoil him so he’d be sure to return—I know he loves Lynn’s cooking.  So do I!

Butch is just a downright decent person.  His heart is in the right place.  He cares for others and is very anxious, capable, and willing to help.  I envy his knowledge of everything.  And I admire his heart.

He texted us mid-afternoon that he had gotten back OK.  Lynn had made pepperoni rolls for Wiley and they were a big hit.  We also gave him some of our ham, English muffins, and delicious mints Lynn had made.

This morning I got a lot of things done at Central.  I got the last two credit cards reconciled and statements paid.  I paid a couple of other bills, processed the payroll for December 15, paid the December taxes, and paid the Pastor’s health insurance and retirement.  I will likely not return to QuickBooks until Monday morning.  Yea!

This afternoon Lynn’s sister Kay came over to do some Cricut work with her so I spent the time in the basement trying to come up with ideas for Lynn for Christmas.  I’m still looking…

I am more worried than I have been in months about COVID-19.  As I’ve been reporting for the past two weeks, the number of cases is just exploding, especially locally.  What a shame it would be to make it this far without catching coronavirus then succumb to it right before vaccinations are doled out.  Sadly, many people are doing just that.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 9         Infected                   Died

World               69,161,253           1,573,600

US                     15,781,776              295,855

Virginia               267,128                  4,281

Augusta County       1,694                       13

Oh my Gosh!  Augusta County just added 167 new cases in just one day.  Virginia added 4,300 new cases in just 24 hours.  It took from the start of the epidemic until June 20 for Augusta County to accumulate 167 cases.  Yet today we added that many in just 24 hours.

Here are some sobering statistics from ABC news:  The last week marks the deadliest week for the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic, with 15,578 deaths — roughly equivalent to 92 deaths reported every hour.  The U.S. is now averaging more than 200,000 new cases each day — three times higher than the country’s summer peak in July, and more than six times higher than the country’s spring peak in April.  There has not been a single day with less than 100,000 daily cases for the last five straight weeks, according to an ABC News analysis of data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project.  In the last week alone, the U.S. has reported 1.4 million new COVID-19 cases, more than any other week on record, and equivalent to 1 in every 231 Americans testing positive.  With numerous days now over the 200,000 mark, the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has increased by 87% in the last month.

Here are two completely opposing stories on CNN news:

First, President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to block millions of votes from four battleground states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden.  Trump’s request came in a filing with the court asking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking to invalidate millions of votes cast in four states that went for Biden: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  The President is being represented by a new attorney, John Eastman, who is known for recently pushing a racist conspiracy theory that claimed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was not eligible for the role because her parents were immigrants.

Second, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have now certified their presidential results, according to CNN’s tally, as the Electoral College process moves forward with the meeting of electors on Monday.  West Virginia became the final state to certify its presidential election results Wednesday, formally declaring that President Donald Trump is entitled to the state’s five electoral votes. President-elect Joe Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, and Trump is projected to win 232. It takes 270 electoral votes of the 538 available to become president.  The states’ certifications come as Trump has baselessly claimed that the election was rigged and sowed doubt about the outcome of the presidential race. Dozens of lawsuits challenging the results have been dismissed at the state and federal levels across the country since the November election.  Each state has different processes for certifying results, and some states certified their slate of presidential electors separately from state and local election results.  The next major step in the Electoral College process is the meeting of the electors, who are required by law to convene on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, which this year is December 14. The electors’ votes are later transmitted to officials and counted in a joint session of Congress on January 6.

So one news story is that Trump is still trying to find a way to get the election thrown out while the other says all states have officially certified that the election is over and Biden is the winner.

Tomorrow Pfizer’s vaccine is expected to receive its emergency authorization and vaccines are going to roll out.  This can’t happen too quickly.  ABC news said it will be months before all Americans receive it, of course.  The news reported again tonight that throughout the country, especially in California, hospitals are overflowing and understaffed.  

December 10, 2020

Lynn’s back is not making the kind of improvement we both thought it would.  She was in so much pain this morning getting out of bed that she had tears in her eyes—something she never does.  She had stopped taking the pain pills because she got an upset stomach but today she took this pill again.  Perhaps the upset stomach came because she took it after eating and the directions said to take it with food.

We went to bed early last night and watched two episodes of The Queen’s Gambit.  This means that she was in bed much longer than usual so perhaps her back was just tired of her lying down.  She did not sleep well, though, due to the pain. 

With the high rate of COVID-19 infections in Augusta County now I pledged to stay home more.  Yet by 9:00 this morning I had made three trips out in my car.  The first one was at 6:00 AM.  Today is Freddie’s 7th birthday.  Ann had ordered three dozen donuts for him to take to school from a donut shop in Staunton and she needed me to pick them up.  I did and took them to her house.  When I got home, Lynn picked out some items she needed from Aldi’s.  She had her friends Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent over this morning to sit on the porch so she couldn’t go during the senior hour which started at 8:00.  So I did that errand for her.  She was hurting too much to go anyway.  When I got back, we got a message from Ann that Freddie couldn’t find his mask at school and was given a paper one by his teacher which he didn’t like.  So she contacted Henry who was home since he goes to school on alternate days.  He located Freddie’s mask and I took it to his school for him.  He shouldn’t be unhappy on his birthday! 

I am so glad that I was available to do these errands despite having to be back out again.  On the three trips I was close to no one for more than 15 seconds and then everyone had a mask on.  Aldi’s was practically empty when I shopped there. 

Ann’s family had another thing to celebrate—Henry made the varsity basketball team and Gus made the jayvee team.  So if and when their teams get to play they will be suited up for the FDHS Indians.  I would think that both will see playing time.  Games don’t start until January 7 and if things don’t improve I’m not sure that will happen.  So sad!

A few days ago I listed twenty five things I planned to do once we were vaccinated.  I have since thought of two to add which I should have put high on that initial list:  1) Hug lots of people.  I have missed the physical contact we’ve all had to avoid during this pandemic.  2) Play tennis.  Before March I was playing three or four times each week.  I was in a group of around 15 men who were all good players and nice guys.  I miss both the exercise and the interactions. 

The weather has taken a turn for the better.  The high this afternoon was in the mid 50’s and it was sunny with no wind.  Lynn and I would definitely have walked if it weren’t for her back.  Since the weather was nice I made up another treasure hunt for Freddie so now he had two today—one for his card and another for his present.  The one I made up for his card was an outside one and involved his solving math problems.  The one I made up for his present was an inside one where he read each clue himself.

Freddie got here as scheduled and immediately began his two hunts.  He did pretty well with the math problems I gave him—got almost all of them correct without any help.  He struggled a bit with the reading clues, as we expected.  He definitely needs more practice with reading.  It will come in time.  I took pictures and posted them this evening.

Freddie such a neat kid.  He plays and runs so hard.  I love watching him.  I am extremely glad he is part of my life.

ABC news reported today that more Americans died yesterday from COVID-19, 3,054, than the number who died at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.   The seven-day average of new daily deaths (2,276) also set a record, according to the health data.  “The 7-day average for COVID-19 deaths are at an all-time high as deaths are rising throughout the country. The previous single-day record was on May 7 at 2,769 deaths,” the tracking project tweeted.  Daily hospitalizations also continued to set records as 106,688 Americans are currently hospitalized, according to the data. The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 102,580, another record.  Over 209,000 new coronavirus cases were reported on Wednesday, according to the tracking project.

The pain pills that Lynn took this morning seemed to help her get through the day.  She took another dose at dinner; hopefully she will be able to sleep better tonight. 

The FDA advisory board voted 17-4 to approve Pfizer’s vaccine so I guess it will start rolling out.  In England where it has been given for several days now, two people had an allergic reaction to it.  That made me perk up given my allergies but I think these two were much more at risk than I will be when my time comes.  For example, I understand they both had EpiPens which I’ve never had the need of.

Here are today’s grim numbers:

December 10       Infected                   Died

World               70,677,500           1,587,428

US                     16,021,370              299,584

Virginia               271,043                  4,335

Augusta County       1,906                       14

This is still scary.  August County added another 212 new cases in the past 24 hours.  In the same news, Elizabeth Jiminez texted Lynn tonight that Gilberto had a bad day today.  I am very fearful of what will happen to him.  That family needs him so much. 

With all the record infections and deaths in America, you’d think our current President would be working non-stop to try to help.  Instead, today he hosted a large party at the White House, completely disregarding the CDC’s recommendation for avoid this type of gathering.  Pictures of the event showed few masks.  Plus, he is still pushing this far-fetched suit placed in Texas which he hopes will end up in the Supreme Court who will some way side with him in disregarding the millions of fair votes cast. 

January 20 could be the most significant day in our personal future.  First, we’ll be getting rid of the worst President that I’ve ever lived under.  Second, perhaps by that time the number of available vaccines will be high enough that people in my age group will start to be vaccinated.  I hope I make it that long….

December 11, 2020

Today was another fairly warm day for mid-December, warm enough for Lynn and I to take an afternoon walk.  It felt really good.  I was a little worried if she could make it or not given her back issues but she did well.  She’s been taking the pain pills the last few days and that has helped. 

The news about Gilberto Jiminez has not been good.  Elizabeth told Lynn this morning that his lungs were severely damaged and it would take a miracle for him to survive.  Lynn asked her what they needed and she gave her a short list of things to pick up so we quickly headed to Verona to get what she asked for then take them to her.

You could see the worry and anxiety on her face as she emerged from her house.  Lynn wanted to hug her but didn’t dare get close.  She had tears rolling down her cheeks and told Lynn she hadn’t told her children how serious her husband’s condition was.  I’ve prayed for Gilberto many times in the past few weeks but none more than today.  I hope he can somehow overcome this terrible disease and return to his loving family.  Thoughts about him have dominated my day as I’m sure they have Lynn’s.

I did my usual Friday run to the dump today with a stop at the Gutshall’s house.  Gus, Betsy, and Freddie all helped me load their trash.  They seemed to be doing OK by themselves.

This afternoon was very boring.  I worked lots of Whirly Word puzzles and played many solitaire games.  Besides our two mile walk I didn’t do anything worth writing about.

I have kept my eyes on the news today because I am concerned about the case presented to the Supreme Court.  This morning I learned that our representative, Ben Cline, had signed on with Trump to support this ridiculous lawsuit.  I rarely post things on Facebook but this just put me over the top so I posted that “It is embarrassing and infuriating that the man who represents me and 750,000 others in the 6th district of Virginia would sign on to a frivolous lawsuit intended to overturn the will of the people in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia. The people in those states legally voted and selected Joe Biden for President. Just because Cline and other Republicans are not happy that they are in the minority of voters of America does not mean it is OK for them to want to overturn our American institution of voting. Shame on him.”

We decided to do our family Zoom today instead of Wednesday and it worked out well.  All the families were on.  Actually we had five simultaneous views because Ann joined from her car.  It was great to see everybody.  The only ones we didn’t see were Henry and Gus who both had basketball practice now that they’re on the varsity and JV teams.

This was Friday so we continued our tradition of getting hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike.  Lynn had her usual bacon jalapeño burger and I had my philly cheeseburger.  As always, we got an order of fries and brought everything back home to eat.

Lynn and I are planning on driving to Arlington tomorrow to take several things to the Foys.  We’ll leave in late morning and return before it gets dark, hopefully.

Here’s a storyline from ABC that I’m having to repeat way too often:  the U.S. has set new records for the most deaths in one week, the highest number of new cases in a week and the most Americans hospitalized in one week, according to ABC News’ analysis of COVID Tracking Project data.  In the past seven days, the U.S. has reported more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases — roughly equivalent to 142 Americans testing positive for the virus every minute.  Daily case numbers have been on the rise for nearly three months, increasing nationally by 480% since mid-September.  The U.S. broke a hospitalization record again on Thursday, surpassing 107,000 patients, a 6.5% rise from a week earlier. Fifteen states have reported record numbers since Sunday.  With the U.S. is now averaging over 2,300 new coronavirus related deaths a day, more Americans are dying from COVID-19 every day than ever before.  “We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Thursday at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.  In the 9/ll attacks, almost 3,000 Americans died, and more than 2,400 were killed when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Here are the statistics from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

December 11       Infected                   Died

World               71,342,867           1,599,460

US                     16,235,934              302,179

Virginia               274,438                  4,370

Augusta County       1,933                       16

Virginia’s daily total number of infections increased by well over 3,000.  Augusta County added two more deaths to its total in the past 24 hours even though it added only 27 new cases.

Tonight we got the great news that the Supreme Court had rejected to even hear the court case brought by Texas to overturn the elections in the four battleground states.  My confidence is restored in the Supreme Court.  Even Trump’s appointees to the Court opted to reject his case.  Hallelujah!

You’d think this story is over now but remember this is Donald Trump.  I have to wonder what his next move will be.  This I know for sure—it won’t be a concession speech.

December 12, 2020

I got on the scales today for the first time in a few weeks.  Ugh!  I have gained over six pounds.  With us being trapped in our house due to cold weather and COVID-19, the only way I’m going to drop a few pounds is to eat less and I love to eat! 

I’m still celebrating the Supreme Court case from yesterday.  Prior to their decision to not even accept the case, Trump had tweeted “If the Supreme Court shows Great Wisdom and Courage, the American People will win perhaps the most important case in history and our Electoral Process will be respected again!”  The most important case in history didn’t even make it in the door…  Thank goodness the Court hasn’t caught the lose-your-brain sickness that his followers have contracted.

As I noted yesterday, his followers included 125 Republican members of the Congress who signed on to the bogus lawsuit from Texas.  Our representative, Ben Cline, was one of those.  In the past, he has been quick to say Democrats are out to take your guns away.  It looks to me like Republicans like him are out to take your voting rights away.

Lest any of us starts thinking that the hardcore Republicans will finally accept defeat, a Facebook post reminds us that those who fly the Confederate flag are proof that some people never get over losing.

Lynn got some good news last night from Elizabeth Jiminez.  Elizabeth texted her that Gilberto was doing a little better and even said the doctors told her he would survive.  I certainly hope this is true; it would be answered prayers.

While I lounged this morning, Lynn was working on a craft—duplicate stitching some items for Christmas presents she plans to give.  Her hands just can’t stay still.  I guess mine are always on a keyboard but hers are always doing something more creative.  And her hands are usually doing something for someone else.  Her heart is superb.

We finished The Queen’s Gambit last night.  I’m not sure what we’ll watch next.  I will say that the pandemic has caused us to use our Netflix subscription a lot.

Pfizer vaccines are starting to roll out today from their plant in Michigan to 600 locations across America.  I’m curious to see how long it will be before staff at Augusta Health and Sentara in Harrisonburg receive theirs.  Frankly I just hope there will be transparency so that we’ll know these facts.

With Ann’s help I’ve been working on getting a few Christmas presents for Lynn.  Christmas is such an important season to her so I really don’t want her to be disappointed.  Ann is helping me by placing Amazon orders shipped to her house for which I’ll repay her.

For the 45 years I worked, I needed an alarm at 6:00 AM to wake me up.  Now that I am retired with nowhere to go in the mornings, you’d think I’d sleep in much later.  The fact is I wake up around 5:00 AM each morning and frequently am up before 6:00.  No alarm needed.  I have been sleeping well lately so I am not complaining.  I typically dream about being in some kind of a teaching situation where I am unprepared for the lesson.  Last night my dream was that I was prepared to teach but the technology in my room didn’t meet my needs.

We left for Arlington mid-morning.  Our lunch on the way consisted of ice cream at Smiley’s.  We also picked up a ice cream cake for Andy which we took to them.  It was a relatively short visit but successful one.  We delivered clothes to Georgia from Betsy, a present Kay had ordered and was sent here, and some crafts which Lynn put together for Thomas and Georgia.  We had time for her to do some of the crafts with them on their back porch.

Lynn drove both ways and her back seemed to hold up well.  We got back near 5:30. On our way back we stopped at Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird and picked up our favorite pizza (the Soprano) which was our dinner tonight and will likely be tomorrow night’s also.

Tonight’s news is more of the same—record COVID-19 infections, deaths, and hospitalizations.  For so many people the vaccine will be too late.  Here are today’s statistics:

December 12       Infected                   Died

World               72,052,883           1,610,519

US                     16,521,948              304,930

Virginia               278,615                  4,409

Augusta County       2,012                       16

The number of cases in Virginia is still increasing.  Today there were 4,200 new cases in just one day.  There were 39 new deaths.  In Augusta County there were 79 new cases in just one day.  There are 54 Augusta County residents hospitalized. 

Tonight was the annual UVA – VT football game.  It started at 8:00 which is our normal bedtime so we turned it on with plans to watch as much as we could before falling asleep….

December 13, 2020

I watched the first quarter and the last five minutes of the UVA – VT game last night.  Tech prevailed, 33 – 15.  Henry will be happy but not Gus.  WVU was supposed to have played Oklahoma yesterday but the game was canceled due to COVID-19.  So WVU ended up with a 5-4 record.  UVA’s was 5-5 and VT’s was 5-6.  All three had average years.

Today was a typical Sunday; I played the piano for the Bible Study group at Central.  Lynn did lots of craft work.  She’s working on a project for Christmas gifts.  I won’t tell what.  Then she walked with Ginny Bauman.  The weather was sunny with the temperature considerably warmer than usual, 60o, but it was fairly windy.

Lynn and I did a little Christmas shopping today.  That is, we ordered items from Amazon.  Thank goodness for Amazon this year.  We’re not about to be going from store to store with the pandemic boiling right now.

The Electoral College meets tomorrow and will certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.  Though this is somewhat ceremonial, I’ll still be happy when this has been done and even happier on January 6 when Congress officially counts these votes and announces him as the winner.  Until then, there’s no doubt in my mind that Trump will continue to undermine the process, sow discord, whine, plot, tweet, and encourage his brainless followers to ignore the law and the will of the majority.

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

December 13       Infected                   Died

World               72,618,391           1,618,437

US                     16,728,586              306,429

Virginia               281,909                  4,411

Augusta County       2,103                       16

The numbers aren’t as high as they were yesterday but maybe that’s just because today is Sunday and all of the data didn’t get reported.  Virginia still had over 3,000 new cases though only two more deaths. 

Lynn and I walked at Gypsy Hill today.  We both wore our masks the whole time; the park was crowded.  We also learned today that her good friend Mary Gooden has now made a complete recovery from COVID-19.  Mary didn’t tell Lynn she was positive until she was cleared to go back to work.  However, the news from Elizabeth Jiminez wasn’t so good today.  Elizabeth said that they were “praying for a miracle” for her husband.  I really, really hope he pulls through. 

There’s a big snow supposedly coming this Wednesday—quite a change from today’s 60 degree weather.  We were scheduled to pick up our Greenbrier Christmas presents that day but they’ve already rescheduled our pickup to Tuesday so we can beat the snow.  One forecast has us getting 8-12 inches of the white stuff.

December 14, 2020

We made an early trip to Costco today to grab some items during the senior citizen hour there.  The items I have been trying to buy for Central UMC still weren’t available:  paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and disinfectant spray.  But we got several other items including a few Christmas presents.  The store opened just before 9:00 and we were driving home at 9:08 so I don’t think we compromised ourselves with this visit indoors.  Today was an ugly, cold, rainy day so there were few people shoppers at Costco.

After that, I was able to get several chores done this morning at Central.  I recorded playing the piano for one song which I had agreed to do for the Christmas Eve service (now virtual) and also recorded a scriptural reading I was assigned for that service.  Then I went to the Treasurer’s Office and paid four bills, updated the Schwab investment spreadsheet, and did the weekly deposit that the Counters had done before I got there.  Meanwhile, Lynn worked with Cheryl Kent on some Cricut projects of Cheryl’s.

In the afternoon, we drove to Waynesboro for a few stops.  First, we went to Michael’s where Lynn bought some items for a Christmas present.  Then we went to WalMart where she bought some yogurt.  Finally, we stopped at her student’s home to drop off groceries she had collected for him from the Central Food Pantry.

Lynn was upset today because we both were negligent in ordering something she has been wanting—a patio heater—from Costco only to find out that now it is no longer available.  Last week it was available but we just didn’t get it ordered.  Furthermore, patio heaters are nowhere to be found at Lowe’s or Home Depot now.  She wanted it for the weekly meetings she has with Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent and also for Christmas this year since we’ll likely not have other family members in the house thanks to COVID-19.  I’m not 100% convinced that this is a good investment, though.  It may be that we’ll be vaccinated in January which means that it would only get a few weeks of service.  I know that once she and her friends have been vaccinated they’ll meet inside on a cold day.  All of us are in the 65+ age group which is supposed to be the second set of people to be vaccinated.

The first set, health care workers, began getting their vaccinations today.  I heard on the news that they really do hope to get all of these workers plus those in nursing homes vaccinated by the end of December.  If that’s true, and we’re the next group, I would think that perhaps ours would come during January.  I hope this is correct.  But a later news story said it would be months before the general public receives vaccination.

Today the Electoral College cast its votes.  As expected, Biden won 306 – 232.  Will the Republicans finally admit defeat?  Well, have the Confederate flags disappeared?

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

December 14       Infected                   Died

World               73,158,997           1,627,168

US                     16,922,438              307,924

Virginia               285,149                  4,414

Augusta County       2,352                       16

Virginia’s death count only went up by only three but the case count went up 3,200.  Our friend Mary who has now recovered from it said it well when talking to Lynn, “it’s everywhere…”   I think that we’re like survivors on a life raft with the helicopter in sight but the raft has an ever-increasing hole in it.  The news tonight featured several people getting the vaccine today but the news also predicted that by the new year we’d have over 360,000 deaths in the U.S. 

The long term effects of COVID-19 are unknown since the virus is so new.  Yesterday a star basketball player for the University of Florida who had coronavirus this past summer collapsed on the court and is in critical condition in the hospital.  The question is what kinds of heart damage can it cause.

December 15, 2020

Today was the calm before the storm.  The weather forecast is that snow will begin tomorrow morning and accumulate 4” – 8”.  I do suppose we’ll be locked in the house starting then for at least a day.  The meteorologist on TV3 reported that we may get more sleet and less snow.  Either way the roads will be a mess so we’ll hunker down.

We were supposed to pick up the presents from the Greenbrier that Lynn had signed Central UMC up for tomorrow, but given the forecast they moved the pickup to today.  Our scheduled time wasn’t until 4:45 which would have put us back in Staunton very late.  We had nothing else scheduled this afternoon so we headed to White Sulphur Springs at 1:00, making a couple of stops in Staunton on the way. 

We pulled up to the location where we had wrapped presents and were very pleasantly surprised to find that they were fine with us coming nearly two hours ahead of schedule.  The distribution of presents was arranged much better than usual this year.  All we had to do was to back Lynn’s car up to the location and the volunteers there loaded every present into her car.  We didn’t have to leave our seats!  I was very skeptical that 237 presents would fit in Lynn’s Rav4 but the presents weren’t large ones and they fit in easily.

We got back to Central by 5:00, unloaded the presents, then sorted them by gender and age.  We put signs on each stack were done by 5:30, way ahead of the time I thought we’d finish.  To celebrate we went to Bojangle’s drive-thru for dinner.  I got a chicken dinner and Lynn got a country ham biscuit and a pimento cheese biscuit.

This morning I worked more on an idea I had for a present for Lynn for Christmas.  I actually got it printed and wrapped.  She had a Zoom session with a Rockingham County pre-school student.  Our Christmas shopping has been aided by Amazon.  I think Lynn has presents for most of the grandchildren.  At least she’s ordered them.

The news is all about people getting vaccinated.  Supposedly Augusta Health will start vaccinating its health care workers tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 isn’t pausing while this is going on.  Here are today’s numbers:

December 15       Infected                   Died

World               73,728,188           1,639,535

US                     17,099,429              310,359

Virginia               288,309                  4,470

Augusta County       2,414                       19

The increase of 3 in Augusta’s County’s deaths is the highest single day increase since I’ve been reporting these statistics.  Augusta had 62 new cases.  There are currently 57 Augusta Coujnty residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  Virginia had over 3,000 new cases and 56 more deaths.  Nationwide, the numbers were down a little but still much more than what we had this summer.  And, ABC reported that the number of hospitalizations set a new record today, over 110,000.  Since Thanksgiving, the number of deaths per day has increased 69%.

The news did say that Moderna is nearing the completion of its testing so soon we may have two vaccinations available for the public.  There’s a chance that Moderna will have its emergency use authorization by the end of this week.  Moderna’s vaccine, like Pfizer’s, has been shown to be very effective. 

We took a chance today that we’ll get our vaccine before the end of February.  The Greenbrier announced that it will have its cheap “Tribute” rates for the week of February 15 – 19.  We took a chance and reserved staying there February 15 – 18.  The reservation is non-refundable.  Paul and Sandy Porterfield are going to make the same reservation.

Mitch McConnell finally recognized Joe Biden as the President-Elect today, 43 days after the election.  It took the Electoral College count yesterday to make him finally admit Biden’s victory.

Lynn’s back is doing better.  She’s had some indigestion issues perhaps caused by the pills she’s been taking for her back pain but overall her health is improved.  I can’t overstate how unusual 2020 has been where there have been two times, broken foot and strained back, where she has been in much pain and distress.  She has always been extremely healthy and fit.

Earlier this month we bought a bushel of juice oranges from Broadway High School’s agriculture department thanks to Ann.  I’ve been fixing fresh orange juice almost every morning for Lynn and me.  This year the oranges are very sweet.  We’ve enjoyed this addition to our breakfast, for sure.

December 16, 2020

I forgot to include my high point of the day yesterday.  It was a text from Josh about Freddie.  We had texted him to make sure he was picking Freddie up since we were out of town when the bus arrived.  Here’s what he shared: “He also said that he was answering lots of math questions & his teacher asked him to give others a chance. He said that he probably will be a math teacher like granddaddy that specializes in adding. He likes plus better than take away.”

Gus brought his PlayStation over last night to be updated using our internet connection.  Actually he got here after Lynn and I were in bed watching TV.  This morning I had a text from him asking me to power it off so his Mom could pick it up this morning.  The schools had already been called off and I knew he’d want to have it at home today.  But with the temperature in the 20’s and the forecast of multiple inches of snow coming early today I decided to run it over to their house before the snow started.  I got back around 7:30 and it wasn’t ten minutes until the snow started falling.  I’m so glad I didn’t wait on one of his parents to try to pick it up because the snow immediately stuck to the roads due to the cold.

Lynn worked on wrapping Christmas presents all morning.  At least this snowfall has helped her get ahead of schedule since there’s still nine days until Christmas.  By mid-morning the snow had turned into sleet.  This made it all the more important for us to stay inside.

Lynn had purchased a large container of oatmeal for a recipe a few weeks ago.  I decided to try to make a bowl today just because it was available.  It turned out to taste great.  I remember that my Dad used to eat oatmeal almost every day.  I thought of him as I ate mine today. 

There’s a commercial on TV which makes fun of people turning into their parents.  I always thought that the three of us looked a lot more like Mom than Dad.  But sometimes when I’ve put on my reading glasses then glanced into a mirror I can see Dad looking back.  As I’ve done the bookkeeping for Central I’ve thought about him and his excellent accounting skills.

It turns out the snowfall was somewhat of a bust.  We had lots of freezing rain and sleet today but probably no more than two inches of snow, if that.  The roads are a mess but at least there’s not a lot of heavy snow to shovel.  It is supposed to warm up to 40o tomorrow so perhaps the ice will melt.  Schools in the area are called off again tomorrow, though.

The same thing happened in Roanoke.  Jim called us via Facetime this morning.  His boys were disappointed that they had rain because they were hoping to play in the snow.  We had a period of time this afternoon where the snow came down really hard but it didn’t seem to accumulate any.

I had news today of a family member in pretty bad shape with COVID-19.  My first cousin, David Dean, lives in Charleston WV and is a retired police officer.  He is two years younger than I am.  His sister Marjorie posted about him today and I am reproducing her entire post here: 

Wednesday last week my brother David went to the ER at Thomas Hospital with shortness of breath and extreme weakness. He was positive for Covid and has been hospitalized since then. I think he will be one of the lucky ones who do not die, and he is not on a ventilator, but the misery is unimaginable. His caregivers are limited as to how much time they are allowed in his room and they are stressed, exhausted, overextended, and very much at risk. I am helpless. You do not want this, and you do not want to do anything to risk the suffering of others. If you have gotten away with risk so far, you are lucky. But stop, now. Do not put your family and others through the consequences of your contracting this cruel disease. If you plan to travel, cancel. If you plan to go to someone’s home during the holidays, or have anyone else in your home, including children or parents who do not live with you, cancel. If you love the Lord, remember the commandment to love your neighbors and pray at home, not at church. This is the home stretch, and a loving person will do the unselfish thing and make sacrifices now to avoid putting others through the consequences of your becoming sick. This is not an issue of individual choice. It is an issue of right and wrong. If you are alone and depressed Christmas, send me a message and I will call you. It will still be Christmas, and may the blessings of the holiday season be with you.

Our Christmas tree is getting dry and somewhat weepy and there’s still nine more days to go before Christmas.  I confess I forgot to make a fresh cut on the bottom of it when I brought it home and it’s too late to do that now.  It just doesn’t drink water like those we’ve had in the past.  There’s plenty of water in its base but it doesn’t seem to take any of it.  I’m afraid it will be coming down shortly after Christmas.  It is a pretty tree and looks good from the road but up close it looks somewhat sad.

ABC news tonight reported that for the tenth straight day COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a new high, more than 112,000.  Some hospitals are out of ICU space.  All this is happening while Moderna’s vaccination may achieve emergency authorization tomorrow.  Supposedly there are nearly 6,000,000 Moderna vaccines ready to be distributed.  ABC said there were 3,019 deaths yesterday.

Here are today’s numbers:

December 16       Infected                   Died

World               74,471,110           1,653,829

US                     17,353,637              314,176

Virginia               292,240                  4,508

Augusta County       2,436                       19

Virginia had almost 4,000 new cases again.  At least Lynn and I didn’t put ourselves in jeopardy today.  She didn’t leave the house and the only times I did were to take the PlayStation to Gus and to check the mail.

December 17, 2020

The snow stopped and although the temperature was around 25o our wonderful neighbor Bee Myers plowed our driveway this morning.  I finished off the job by shoveling around our cars and our sidewalks.  At least the wind wasn’t blowing so it was bearable. 

Bee shared with me that he had tested positive for COVID-19 several days ago.  He has finished his quarantine now and never did have any symptoms.  He said that he and Janet had visited with her daughter who apparently passed it along to him though Janet tested negative.

Later in the day Lynn’s sister Kay reported that she has been battling a terrible cough lately as have her son and daughter, David and Donna.  This is fearsome as so did Nathan Jiminez who had a positive case of COVID-19.  Kay went to CVS in Waynesboro this afternoon and got a COVID-19 test.  I guess we’ll know in a few days….  She gets her results back in 48 hours.

As I have written many times over the past eight months, it just seems like COVID-19 is stalking us, getting closer all the time.  Now the neighbor directly across the street and possibly one of Lynn’s siblings has tested positive.  Are we next?

Nonetheless, we had some things to pick up for Christmas so once the roads cleared a little we headed for Harrisonburg.  We really want to get everything taken care of for Christmas early this year since we don’t know what the future holds.  We were able to take care of our banking, buy some jewelry for Betsy, and then shop at Costco.  At Costco, we found many great bargains in the clothes section so we loaded up for the grandchildren.  I even bought four coats for Central’s Clothes Closet because they had winter coats for $5!  We also bought some cough syrup for Kay which we dropped by her home while she was still waiting to be tested at the CVS.

Lynn and I also decided to go to Charlottesville tomorrow.  We had some jewelry held for us there for Betsy and she has some gift cards to pick up for her Waynesboro student from her Migrant Ed boss.  We’ve gotten our shopping done for all of the grandchildren except Henry so maybe we’ll find something there for him, too.

It would be nice to get all of our shopping behind us then hunker down for the days prior to Christmas.  I really hope we can avoid lots of social contacts in the near future.

ABC News said tonight that Moderna’s vaccine had been recommended for emergency use authorization by the FDA.  However, it also reported that today was the deadliest day in the pandemic with 3,600 new deaths.   Today is the 11th straight day of record hospitalizations.

December 17       Infected                   Died

World               75,214,519           1,666,844

US                     17,587,663              317,451

Virginia               296,093                  4,553

Augusta County       2,497                       19

Augusta County has 57 people currently hospitalized.  See what I mean when I say it is stalking us?

I know my writings throughout the past eight months have largely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.  I’m both more worried than ever and more confident that this battle can be won especially since there are two approved vaccines now.  I guess I’m like a soldier in a fox hole worried with the enemy rapidly approaching but knowing that there are lots of reinforcements on the way.  Lynn and I have tried to be careful though I know there are some people who are even more careful than we are.  We always wear masks in public.  We avoid any types of assemblies.  Yet I know that many of the 17.5 million Americans who have caught this awful virus have been careful like we have been.

The political news has certainly dropped off dramatically.  Trump still spouts his lies but fewer and fewer people seem to be listening to him now.  He’s done for!  I did get an e-mail today that said one of the Republican candidates for governor in Virginia yesterday said Trump should declare martial law and overturn the Biden win in Virginia.

December 18, 2020

One week until Christmas!  We’re almost done with our shopping and added a few more items today.  Lynn has kept up with wrapping which means this year is the earliest she’s ever got her wrapping done.  That’s one good thing about having your hands tied at home due to COVID-19, I suppose.

Even though the temperature was in the low 30’s, Lynn’s friends Cheryl Kent and Cheryl Wright came over to visit outdoors today for 90 minutes.  They bundled up on the back porch.  In the future we’ll have some relief for days like this because last night Lynn found a patio heater available on Costco’s website and ordered it.  It won’t be here until after Christmas, though.

I worked a long time on my 2021 calendar today.  The process is to 1) look through all the 2020 photos on my downstairs iMac and select any which looks good for the calendar.  I always select way more than will fit in the calendar but that’s OK.  2)  Using the app Photos, select to create a new project, the 2021 calendar.  3)  Copy each of the photos under consideration onto the newly created project.  4)  Select the calendar dates to be added (Hill birthdays & anniversaries, Hanger birthdays & anniversaries, and Hill-Hanger birthdays & anniversaries plus US Holidays).  5)   For each month, select the layout of photos you want (e.g., 4 per page, 5 per page, 7 per page, etc.)  6) Drag the photos from the project onto the calendar   7) Edit the photos by zooming in, cropping, etc.  8) Double check everything multiple times to make sure no one’s birthday or anniversary has been left off.  8) Save the calendar as a .pdf file   9) Transfer the .pdf to a USB stick and take it to Staples to be printed.  I usually create three calendars:  Hill Calendar, Hanger Calendar, and Hill-Hanger Calendar.  This year I decided to do the photos a little different.  Instead of trying to get a mix of photos on each month, I’ve dedicated the photos for a particular month to whomever has a birthday that month.  For example, January has pictures of Coen, July has pictures of Lynn and Kay, and December has pictures of Freddie.  Months like March and October with no family birthdays have a mix of photos.  I’m up to step 8) now for the Hill-Hanger 2021 Calendar.  It’ll be easy to create the other two by simply duplicating the Hill-Hanger one then, for example, deleting Hill birthdays and anniversaries to create the Hanger 2021 Calendar.

I’ve created calendars for many, many years.  It’s one of my favorite projects.  I’m not crafty like Lynn who is able to create many cool things for people, but I am an experienced calendar maker!

This afternoon Lynn and I drove to Charlottesville where we picked up some jewelry the store was holding for us there.  This item wasn’t available in Harrisonburg.  Then we went to the Albemarle County Migrant Education Office where Lynn picked up a gift card for her Waynesboro student.  Then we drove to Costco and found more bargains for Christmas. 

We got home in time for me to run to Central UMC and pay a few bills.  Then I came back home and we had our traditional Friday dinner—hamburgers from the Old School food truck at Valley Pike Market.

WVU played Iowa State tonight in basketball.  It didn’t start until 9:00 but I was determined to stay awake for the entire game.  I’m usually asleep shortly after 9:00.

Today’s COVID-19 news is more of the same…the deadliest week yet.  With large family Christmas gatherings coming up, the spread may get even worse.  Virginia’s numbers are once again way too high:

December 18       Infected                   Died

World               75,938,113           1,679,746

US                     17,842,541              320,380

Virginia               299,388                  4,598

Augusta County       2,536                       19

Tonight’s news on ABC said that Moderna’s vaccine is ready to go.  The FDA will likely grant emergency approval at any moment.  This vaccine is 94.1% effective against COVID-19 and can stop asymptomatic spread of it, too. 

December 19, 2020

In any other year, today would be busy from dawn until late night as we’d be preparing for our family party.  Not so this year, of course.  Instead, neither of us had much on our agenda.  Lynn did go to Waynesboro to do some shopping at Michael’s and I made my weekly trash run.

I did manage to stay up and watch all of the WVU – Iowa State basketball game last night.  The Mountaineers won the tight game, 70-65, coming from behind in the last minute to win.  As usual, they struggled with being able to shoot, making only 38% of their field goals including a lousy 21% of 3-pointers.  They’re a hard team to watch as I’ve said in the past.

We got a package from Butch yesterday and elected to open it early.  It was an electric mattress heating pad.  He had told us about his and how warm it keeps his bed so he bought one for us.  What a nice brother!  I called him today to thank him.  We put it on tonight so tomorrow I will report on how warm it kept us.

I also called Mary K. to find out when Vic and Amy’s baby is due.  It turns out that it is tomorrow!  She said that she will be induced if he doesn’t come by Monday.  I will be happy to add this new birthday to our calendar!

Donald Trump has been out of the news lately.  Perhaps he’s trying to find another way to challenge the election.  A Facebook post I liked today said this, “Where is Trump?  A Massive Breach of our Federal Agencies?  Where is Trump?  300,000 + COVID deaths.  Where is Trump?  Americans desperately in need of relief as poverty and unemployment soar.  Where is Trump?”  The Staunton newspaper had a great page today featuring a very critical editorial of Trump entitled “A threat to our constitutional order.” 

Another Facebook post that hit home was one that said, “December 7, 1941:  A day that will live in infamy…  2,403 deaths.   September 11, 2001:  America’s darkest day… 2,977 deaths.  December 9, 2020:  Just another Wednesday.  3,124 COVID deaths.”

We had news on two local COVID-19 cases today.  Lynn’s sister Kay called today after she had received the call—she tested positive.  She told Lynn earlier today she had lost her sense of taste so it wasn’t a surprise.  But we had some good news, too.  Elizabeth said that Gilberto was taken off the ventilator today.  That is really great news.

So here’s how close COVID has come to us so far:  Our previous neighbor Mary Gooden had it and has recovered now.  The neighbor directly across the street, Bee Myers, has now recuperated from it.  Our friends the Jiminez family has at least two family members who have been infected including Gilberto who has spent nearly a month on a ventilator.  And now Lynn’s sister Kay has tested positive and her daughter Donna very likely is positive, too.  For months we could hardly name anyone who had it though the pandemic was widespread in the US.  Now it is hitting much closer to home.

Here’s the news from ABC.  It sounds like a broken record:  The United States reported a record high of 249,709 new COVID-19 cases Friday — just shy of a quarter-million — according to updated data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Also, according to The COVID Tracking Project’s Friday evening update, a record 114,751 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus, marking the thirteenth straight day that the nation has hit a record high of current hospitalizations.  Additionally, 2,814 deaths were reported Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.  By all metrics, this week has been the worse since the pandemic began in terms of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 19       Infected                   Died

World               76,548,202           1,690,163

US                     18,038,833              322,648

Virginia               302,972                  4,643

Augusta County       2,589                       22

Augusta County had three more COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours.  Virginia had 3,600 new cases and 45 more deaths.  I don’t know how comforting it is, but when you compare the number died to the number infected, the world’s death rate is 2.2%, the US rate is 1.8%, the Virginia rate is 1.5% and Augusta County’s is 0.8%.  Personally I’m not that comforted…

December 20, 2020

This is the eight month mark for my blog.  I’ve written 375 single spaced pages of Word.  I suspect that you would find some reference to the pandemic on every one of the 375 pages.  I wish today had better news but it is more of the same.

Lynn and I are committed to being in public less for the next several weeks.  I know that we’ve averaged at least one store per day for weeks and weeks and I confess that I did go to Martin’s today because we did not get our newspaper delivered as it was supposed to have been so I went there to get one for Lynn.  Lynn didn’t leave home all day.

She’s been doing various craft projects but I fear that she doesn’t have very many on deck.  She has cranked out all kinds of them over the past few weeks plus both of us have all of our presents wrapped.  

I spent more time today creating calendars.  I added a 2021 Hanger calendar but instead of using the same photos that I did for the Hill and Hill-Hanger calendars I decided to devote the Hanger one to all pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Hanger.  I had plenty of them to choose from.  I usually put anywhere from 4 to 7 pictures on each page so I needed about 70 to create the calendar.  It was easy to find those 70 from my collection.

The heated mattress pad from Butch felt great last night.  You can set both the temperature level and for how many hours you want it on.  We each have controls for our side of the bed.  It felt so good we both fell asleep watching the movie Kay had recommended for us on Disney+, Godmothered

I admit that I was wrong when I said that Central would have trouble giving away the 233 presents that we brought from the Greenbrier.  Pastor Won told me today that all but around 50 had been handed out.  He split the remaining 50 with another church and will give away the rest at the Food Pantry on Wednesday.

I learned today that WVU’s football team will play Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl on December 31.  Good!  I’ll enjoy watching that game (I hope!).

A month from today will be Joe Biden’s inauguration.  So has Trump finally given up his doomed efforts at overturning the election?  Heavens, no!  His latest tactics include supporting the crazed lawyer Sidney Powell who at a Nov. 19 news conference, before a national television audience, asserted that “communist money,” the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and a manipulated computer algorithm were all connected in a secret plot that had altered potentially millions of ballots and stolen the election from Trump.  Powell did not stop there. In an interview two days later with the conservative outlet Newsmax, she said she had been given evidence — which she said she could not disclose — that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican and an ally of the president, had taken bribes and conspired to orchestrate Trump’s defeat. Nationwide, she estimated that “thousands” of local elections officials knowingly helped carry out the master scheme to tamper with ballots. In fact, Powell claimed, if anyone bothered to look, they’d probably find that U.S. elections had been rigged for decades.  Trump also has been listening to Michael Flynn, whom he pardoned after he admitted to lying to Congress, who has encouraged him to use martial law to “rerun” the elections in states Trump lost.

ABC News tonight said a new, highly infectious strain of COVID-19 is racing through the United Kingdom.   England is under a massive lockdown.  In the US, an average of 2,600 people died every day during the past week.  Nineteen states, including Virginia, reached a new high in hospitalizations.  Moderna’s vaccine has now started to be shipped out throughout the US.  The CDC today recommended that people over 75 plus essential workers such as firefighters and teachers should be the next in line to receive the vaccinations. 

Congress finally approved a second stimulus package today.   Supposedly $600 will be sent out to individuals; I’m not sure yet if Lynn and I will be receiving this or not.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

December 20       Infected                   Died

World               77,144,698           1,699,039

US                     18,258,572              324,841

Virginia               306,848                  4,650

Augusta County       2,641                       22

Virginia’s new cases numbered 3,876.  That is enormous.  Strangely, the number of deaths only increased by 7. 

December 21, 2020

We double checked our presents last night making sure that we had the same number of presents for each of our grandchildren.  It turns out that we need another item for Gus and Henry so we came up with a plan today to take care of that.  Teenage boys aren’t easy to buy for!  Our plan involves going to Charlottesville.  And since Connie is coming tomorrow and we generally try to be out of the house when she comes, we’ll just make a trip to C’ville when she gets here.

I managed to keep busy all day today without much on my agenda.  Since this was the Monday after the third Sunday, I had counting duties today at Central.  I went a little early and took care of some other QuickBooks work including setting up for the final payroll of the year on December 31.  After we counted, I did the Quickbooks deposit so I don’t really have much reason to go back to CUMC for a few days.

Actually I did go back later in the day but it was to help Lynn.  Lynn and Cheryl Kent had come up with this idea that members could contribute in a “reverse Advent” where people provide items for the Food Pantry by either purchasing themselves or sending in $35 for Lynn and Cheryl to buy the items.  Actually, we had donations for twelve Advent kits so Lynn wisely ordered all of the items to be picked up from Walmart.  All we had to do was drive there and they brought the items out and loaded them in our car.  It was easy!  Then we took the items to Central where Lynn and Cheryl put them on the shelves for the Food Pantry folks.  The items that were bought were items that typically aren’t provided by the Blue Ridge Food Bank including foods like fruit cocktail and cake mixes and other items such as Kleenex and bandaids.  It turns out that they had money leftover since Walmart’s prices weren’t $35 per kit.  So Lynn is going to place another order for later this week.

The patio heater was ordered arrived today.  It took me about an hour to put it together.  I had it all set up on the porch but couldn’t get it to light.  I double checked the propane source by swapping the propane canister I had put in the heater with the one in the grill but that wasn’t the problem.  I called the company’s tech line and was getting quite upset especially when the first person I talked with couldn’t help me get it lit.  He took my phone number and said another technician would get back to me in 24 hours.  I decided to double check the new battery I had installed in the lighter section and it turned out to be dead.  Replacing it, the heater came on just fine.  It doesn’t heat the entire patio, for sure, but Lynn is pleased with it and that’s all that matters.

Tonight she fixed Colcannon Soup.  I had never heard that name before though we did have this soup once before when her friend Pat Collins sent us some.  Pat also gave the recipe to Lynn so she made it tonight.  It has potatoes and spinach and is very good.  I love most any kind of soup; tonight’s was especially tasty.

After writing yesterday that WVU was playing Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl, news on Facebook tonight was that Tennessee’s coach and several players have COVID-19 so they are backing out of playing.  Wow!

How many times have I written about this?  Today’s ABC news said that the president has not appeared publicly in nine days, and behind closed doors, advisers say, he has remained focused on the election — rather than governing the country through a historic pandemic, overseeing the rollout of two COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring a smooth transition to a Biden administration.  In one month he’ll be an ordinary US citizen with no political office.  Maybe his new residence will be somewhere with iron bars on the windows and doors.

Tonight’s COVID-19 news is bleak, as usual.  In the week ending Dec. 19, 16 states hit a record number of new deaths: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.  I guess those of us in Virginia thought we were somehow not under the siege as much as California but the latest numbers suggest otherwise.

Here are the statistics:

December 21       Infected                   Died

World               77,635,902           1,707,498

US                     18,425,166              326,312

Virginia               310,890                  4,654

Augusta County       2,723                       22

The US numbers are down a little but Virginia still had 4,000 new cases. Included in these counts are several of our friends and family:  my first cousin David Dean, Lynn’s sister Kay, our next door neighbor Bee Myers, a member of our “adopted” Mexican family, Gilberto Jiminez, Lynn’s good friend Mary Gooden, and who-knows-who-else?

The new mutation of COVID-19 which is racing through Britain is in the news tonight.  Doctors say that it isn’t more serious or deadly than the original COVID-19 but it is much more contagious.  The experts think that the vaccine will be effective against it though the new mutation is so new there are a lot of unanswered questions.

A half-million people have now been vaccinated.  But the CDC recently recommended that the next group after front line medical workers will be those over 75 plus essential workers like teachers, police, fire fighters, grocery workers, etc.  I guess that puts Lynn and me further down the line.

December 22, 2020

The ranking of who should get vaccinated in what order is a sobering conversation which reminds me of how unimportant many of us are.  I know that people working in emergency rooms need to be vaccinated because they truly are serving the public in crucial ways.  These people are superbly important and I don’t mind letting them go first.  I suppose it is important for politicians to be vaccinated since they serve as a representative to thousands of people though I am not too happy that politicians who previously called this thing a hoax are now protected and I’m not.  Since I’m not working anymore my sphere of influence is greatly reduced and I understand that.  I’m not complaining that much, just noting that my sense of worth is reduced now that the priorities have been released.

I wrote previously that Lynn and I were trying to limit our interactions with others as the COVID-19 spread has worsened.  Today I think that Lynn’s priorities are different from mine in this regard.  We went to Harrisonburg this morning where we stopped at five different stores where she shopped:  Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Walgreens, and Sharp Shopper.  She had only a few items she was looking for at each store and none were necessities.  For example, at three of them she was only looking for Rollo candy.  Of those five stores, the only one I went into was Costco and that was because I needed to use the restroom.  I’d like to think that if we stay here at home we have a near 0% chance of catching COVID-19 but when one of us goes to a store, any store, that percentage increases markedly.

We’ve been trying to work out some Christmas plans with our children.  There won’t be a big family get-together, of course, this year.  Kay and her family are planning on coming here on the afternoon of Sunday, the 27th, to exchange presents.  We talked with Jim this morning but didn’t come to a conclusion as to when we could take his family’s presents to them.  Ann’s family may come over Sunday morning.

We are awaiting news about Mary K’s newest grandchild.  Vic and Amy were due to have their first child yesterday.  They are both in their 40’s so this is really quite an event. 

We had more of that great Colcannon soup tonight then we went to Smiley’s for dessert.  A fine meal!

WVU played Kansas tonight in basketball.  It was a late game, starting at 9:00 so I won’t get the results in this blog but will tomorrow.  It was at Kansas where WVU had never before won.  Kansas came into the game ranked 3rd nationally; WVU was 7th.

December 22       Infected                   Died

World               78,285,414           1,721,910

US                     18,633,111              330,067

Virginia               314,481                  4,705

Augusta County       2,768                       23

Virginia had over 3,500 new cases and 51 more deaths.  Augusta County now has 61 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 

By Christmas Day, the weather is going to take a turn for the cold with the high only in the mid twenties.  Yuk!  I guess since no one is going anywhere it won’t be that big of a deal.  The good news is that we’ve just past the winter solstice so the days will slowly be getting longer now.

From our front yard tonight we could see the overlap of Jupiter and Saturn tonight in the southwest sky.  You could see it with bare eyes though we also looked with binoculars.  Called the “Christmas Star,” this happens once every 800 years.  Andy texted us that “there was a man out with a homemade telescope who let us look through it and we could see 4 of Jupiter’s moons, the “clouds” in Jupiter’s atmosphere, and Saturn’s rings.  It was amazing.” 

I’ve written that, for the first time ever, we were almost finished with our Christmas shopping early.  Well, we’re not quite through.  Tomorrow I’ve got to pick up a present for Lynn in Staunton and we’re going to Harrisonburg to get one for Henry.  Then on Christmas Eve we’re due to receive items for Gus, Henry, and Georgia.  One item I’d ordered for the Foy and Gutshall families won’t be coming until December 29 but that’s OK.

December 23, 2020

We got the awful news this morning.  My cousin David died at 11:42 last night from complications of COVID-19.  David was a retired police officer in South Charleston, WV.  Last March he and his sister Marjorie had met Mary K. and us at the Greenbrier for breakfast.   I had some pictures from that visit.  I believe David was divorced and lived alone.  Tough way to go… He is the fourth first cousin of mine who has died.  Three of them, including David, were younger than me.

Lynn and I are blessed to have avoided the infection thus far.  We both feel fine now.  Having it hit this close to home does make me appreciate my good fortune.  David and the other 330,000+ in America didn’t deserve this.

I looked back through my December posts.  Sure enough, I have left home every single day this month.  That doesn’t seem like hunkering down to avoid COVID-19, huh?  I do think we’ve been fairly safe when and where we’ve gone but who knows?  Unfortunately, Lynn had some grocery items she needed today plus we had to pick up an item for Henry this morning.  And I had to pick up an item I found for Lynn at an art gallery in Staunton.  So once again we were in the public.  Maybe after today….

I’ve been working on my 2021 calendars for the past several days.  As usual, I’m doing three different versions depending on whose house the calendar ends up in:  Hill-Hanger, Hill, and Hanger.  In the past, the calendars were very similar except that in the Hanger calendar I swapped out pictures of those in the Hill family for Hanger pictures and vice versa for the Hill calendar.  Plus, I deleted Hill birthdates and anniversaries from the Hanger calendar and likewise delete Hanger birthdates and anniversaries from the Hill calendar.  My December 18 post described this. 

This year, I did a different Hanger calendar.  Instead of using 2020 photos from the 2021 Hanger family (which were sparse due to the pandemic), I created a calendar using the pictures I could find of Lynn’s Mom and Dad.  I like the way it came out.  So today as I was driving I had the idea to do the same for the 2021 Hill calendar.  Over the past few years I’ve converted lots of old 35mm slides to digital plus I had scanned some old pictures of the Hill and Cook families.  So today I created the Hill calendar with a collection of these.  I believe that just about all of the pictures are pre-1985 and some go back to the 1950’s.  This took most of the afternoon and I’m pleased with the end result.

There were 32,000 Americans hospitalized witih COVID-19 on Labor Day.  Today there are over 117,000.  The meteoric climb in infections is easily blamed on Thanksgiving gatherings.  The news today says the number of people traveling now around the Christmas season is much higher.  The TSA says they have screened over four million people in the past four days.  So experts are predicting an even high climb in infections shortly after Christmas as large families gather and share their COVID-19 infections.

The Hill family will get together but it will be outside on Sunday the 28th.  We will wear masks and remain distant from each other.  Jim and his boys will likely not come.  Kay’s family will only go in the house to use the restroom and when they do they will go through the front door straight up the stairs to the bathroom.   Ann’s family will likely not cross the threshold at any doorway.  Lynn and I will carry their presents out to them; they will not even see our Christmas tree from inside the house.

All of this is for good reason.  As these statistics show, COVID-19 is still exploding across the country including Virginia:

December 23       Infected                   Died

World               78,980,488           1,735,724

US                     18,870,058              333,667

Virginia               319,133                  4,760

Augusta County       2,818                       23

I wish I had better numbers to report.  Virginia’s count of infections increased by over 4,500 in just one day.  There were 55 new Virginia deaths.  Each death represents a person; David R. Dean is one of the 333,667 who has lost his life to COVID-19.  Joe Biden has told us that “it will get much worse before it gets better.”  Given the current trends plus the millions of people who ignore the advice of experts concerning large gatherings at Christmas, I have to believe he is right.

I did some math tonight using the figures above and the population figures available on the internet.  The results are that 1.0% of the world’s population has been infected with COVID-19 whereas 5.7% of the United States has.  3.7% of Virginians have been infected and the same 3.7% applies to Augusta County residents. 

More calculations I did from the data shows that 2.2% of those in the world who get COVID-19 die from it.  1.8% of those in the US who get it die.  In Virginia, the rate is 1.5%.  And in Augusta County, 0.8% of those who have caught it have died.  We did receive some good news from Elizabeth Jiminez that her husband Gilberto is still improving and is off the ventilator.

December 24, 2020

The weather today was lousy—rained all day.  I guess this is better than snow though snow would have been prettier especially on Christmas Eve.  Tomorrow the temperatures supposed to be much, much colder with a high in the mid twenties.  Yuck!  On the other hand, we didn’t go anywhere today and have no plans to leave home tomorrow.

This morning I wrote, then Lynn edited, a letter we decided to send tomorrow to our friends.  She sent cards to some but not all.  So we decided to send out an e-mail with the following in it:

Christmas Day, 2020

Dear Friends,

Merry Christmas!  This is the first Christmas ever that we’ve spent the day by ourselves so we’ve elected to share with you via this note.  Despite the uproar in all of our lives caused by this pandemic, we hope you are experiencing peace and hope this season.

2020 has been a tough year for us as we’re sure it has been for you, too.  Of course, COVID-19 has greatly limited our grandparenting fun.  We haven’t had a Sunday night dinner with Ann’s family or an overnight visit from Kay’s since March.  It has been over a year since Jim’s boys visited here.  The times when we’ve seen family have been outdoors.  During this year we also lost Lynn’s Mom at the age of 101 and sister-in-law Ann Hill.  Recently a first cousin of Joe’s succumbed to COVID-19.  We also have a friend still in the hospital after having spent a month on a ventilator.

Yet, this Christmas finds us healthy, happy to have many good friends, and hopeful that 2021 will bring us vaccinations, family visits, and travels.   Lynn has stayed busy doing all sorts of craft projects and still does some work with Rockingham County Public Schools and Albemarle County Schools via Zoom.  Joe has taken on the duties of church bookkeeper and has written a daily blog about life in the COVID-19 era.  Before Lynn broke her foot in July we walked a couple of hours each day and plan to resume that when spring comes.  This summer Jim built a really nice Pergola for us in our backyard which we’ve used in lots of outdoor visits with local friends.  We had a nice summer get-away with Ann’s and Kay’s families and have had two great visits from Joe’s brother Butch.

We’ve learned to appreciate virtual get-togethers, take-out food and leftovers, Netflix, and hiking in our neighborhood.  We greatly miss our grandchildren’s ball games and performances, Barter Theatre and Broadway in Richmond shows, and the wonderful travels we had prior to the pandemic.  We’ll celebrate 45 years together this coming June and will probably rate this past year as our closest since we’ve been so isolated from others.

This year has made us doubly aware of the value of family and friends.  We hope you and your family are doing well.  We greatly look forward to future visits with each of you.

Peace and Love,

Lynn & Joe

I hope this sums up our 2020.  It has certainly been a year we’ll never forget.  We’ve been burdened with all the COVID-19 upheaval and its associated lifestyle changes, a crazed President, tumultuous election, Lynn’s broken foot and hurt back, sorrow, worry, and weird weather.  But we’ve survived so far.

We do have a crazy President.  Lately he’s pardoned all of his cronies, people who have committed mass atrocities against innocent people, and most anyone who seems to agree with his outlandish ideas.  He refused to sign an economic relief package because it only offered $600 to each American.  He said he thought it should give each of us $2,000 which is exactly what the Democrats have been saying from the get-go.  Without his signing, those in economic straits get nothing, of course.  Some say he didn’t sign not because he really wants more for those in need but because he’s angry at Mitch McConnell for not backing his unproven claims of voter fraud.  Meanwhile he’s retreated to his Florida estate for golf while some Americans will be hungry on Christmas day.

We had a good phone call with my sister today.  Amy was induced last night but still hasn’t delivered her and Vic’s baby yet.  If he doesn’t come today, it will be tomorrow, for sure. 

We got our final Christmas presents delivered today from Amazon.  The efficiency of this company is so amazing.  We had talked about going to Charlottesville to get our last items for Henry and Gus but decided on Monday to just order them from Amazon.  We got exactly what we wanted, delivered today, and at a price less than we would have paid in Charlottesville. 

With only eight days left, December has already gone down as the deadliest month of the pandemic, according to the COVID Tracking Project.  As of Wednesday, 57,638 Americans died from the virus in December, according to the health data. April is the second deadliest month of the year with 55,267 fatalities, according to the Tracking Project.  The daily hospitalization rate broke another record Wednesday with 119,463 Americans hospitalized with the virus.

You’d think Americans are wising up.  Not so.  The TSA screened 1,191,123 people at airport checkpoints nationwide on Wednesday, the highest single day total since the pandemic started, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising Americans against traveling for the holidays.  More than 6.3 million passengers have been screened since Dec. 18.  All this means that the number of people infected, hospitalized, and die from COVID-19 will continue to rise throughout January.  I have to wonder who in our circle of friends and family will be next.  Hopefully none of us.  But remember my statistics from yesterday’s post:  nearly one in every twenty five people in Augusta County has tested positive already.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 24       Infected                   Died

World               79,712,781           1,748,434

US                     19,109,932              337,049

Virginia               323,915                  4,791

Augusta County       2,894                       23

That’s 4,800 new cases in Virginia.  Not good!  The Virginia Department of Health website also shows now how many people in Virginia have been vaccinated and where.  So far, 31,491 have received the vaccine but only 76 in Augusta CountyL.

We watched via Zoom the children’s Christmas program that Thomas and Georgia took part in today at the Arlington Presbyterian Church.  It was very cute.  They both had singing parts.  Then Lynn and I watched the Central UMC Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols.

I got an early Christmas present tonight.  Lynn made me an apple pie.  Do I ever love apple pie!  I wasn’t about to wait until tomorrow to taste it.  It didn’t disappoint.

There have been many years in which we have been up very late on Christmas Eve wrapping last minute presents, putting together toys, getting things ready for a big Christmas breakfast, etc.  Not so this year!  We were in bed early and watched a movie.  Tomorrow definitely promises to be the most uneventful Christmas we’ve ever experienced.

December 25, 2020

Indeed this Christmas was unlike any other.  We talked with, even had Facetime with, our children and grandchildren but we physically saw no one except each other the entire day.  Poor Lynn!  We did enjoy the three Facetime sessions we had where our grandchildren showed us all the cool things Santa had brought them last night. 

We had some excellent news first thing this morning:  Dennis Ryan DeLeo was born early this morning.  He weighted 8 pounds, 4 ounces.  I’m so happy for Vic, Amy, and Mary K.  This is the first grandchild on Amy’s side of the family so I know her family is happy.

We did have a good Christmas, though.  We did enjoy each other’s company and had a good time opening our presents to each other.  Lynn had bought me a jacket, pants, sweater, pocket-sized tool, mixed fruit jelly, and rain gauge.  She baked me an apple pie yesterday and promised to make me meat loaves (both to eat and freeze).  I got her a sweatshirt she had pickd out, three craft items including a set of Dremel tools and a laminator, a Carrie Underwood Christmas CD, some of her favorite candy (mint filled straws), a pair of Ruth Bader Ginsburg “I Dissent” earrings, a Jim Hanger pie plate to replace one she broke at Thanksgiving, and a framed 8 x 10 picture of her parents. Actually, the frame was one from her mother’s but it worked fine.  I also gave her a set of travel plans for trips I want us to take once we’re vaccinated including a road trip to the “Channels” & Breaks Interstate Park in Southwest Virginia, one to two parks in West Virginia plus two days in Athens with Butch, a funny one through Maryland and Pennsylvania stopping at five different creameries, and one to Delaware.  The packet included four trips I want us to take involving airplane travel once we are vaccinated including one to Key West FL which she has always wanted to see, one to Oregon (our 49th state), and two more Caravan escorted trips (Guatemala and Costa Rica).  Finally the packet included football games I want us to see this fall including the VT – WVU game.

Lynn spent most of the afternoon baking a delicious dinner including prime rib, mashed potatoes, and lima beans.  She also made a cake.  However, my dessert was again that wonderful apple pie.  Besides cooking she embroidered a blanket for Dennis Ryan DeLeo.

It seems a shame to write about COVID-19 on Christmas Day but I can’t ignore the fact that this is now part of every day.  Here are today’s statistics:

December 25       Infected                   Died

World               80,158,727           1,756,330

US                     19,201,750              338,195

Virginia               327,993                  4,820

Augusta County       2,953                       23

I think I’ll start listing the Virginia vaccination statistics, too:

                                         Vaccinated

            Virginia                       43,043                       

            Augusta County              103

The national statistics are low probably due to unreported data given that today is Christmas Day.

There were no news shows today due to the holiday so I gathered some news from ABC’s website.  Their news was almost funny:  After tossing a grenade that threatens to blow up a massive COVID relief and government funding bill and force a government shutdown in the midst of a pandemic, President Donald Trump was golfing on Christmas for a second straight day.

ABC also had an article about the spread of COVID-19.  It said that contact tracing has shown that 70% of new cases come from small gatherings and households.  When people gather in small groups with friends and family, they are more likely to let their guard down, not wear their masks and stay together indoors for longer periods of time, which makes it easier to transmit the virus.  In one study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who eventually tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the past two weeks compared to participants who did not test positive for the virus.

This is why our Christmas family get-together will be outside this coming Sunday and we’ll all be wearing masks.  If we do have food, it will be finger food where people grab their sandwich and sit apart before removing their mask to eat.

Lynn’s sister Kay still is not well from her coronavirus infection.  She coughs a lot but she doesn’t have a fever any more.  She is very tired all the time.

All in all, today was a pretty nice Christmas even though we were limited to phone calls and Facetime in order to communicate with our families.  I feel very blessed again this December 25.

December 26, 2020

We were very efficient today.  Before 10:00 I had taken the package Lynn put together to the post office to be mailed to Vic and Amy DeLeo to celebrate baby Dennis Ryan.  And I had dropped my three 2021 calendars off at Staples to be printed.   Then we left for Walmart to pick up the order Lynn had placed for the Central Food Pantry.  This was the “reverse Advent” project she and Cheryl Kent put together to help stock the Food Pantry with items typically not available from the Blue Ridge Food Bank.  We met Cheryl at Central and put the items on the shelves.

While we were there, Central was in the midst of its weekly Saturday food give-away.  Lynn had the good idea to grab a box of food for Elizabeth Jiminez and her family.  Actually we got two boxes full of food.  She is currently staying with her brother who lives in Staunton so Lynn texted her, got the address, and we took the boxes to her and her family.  It was a busy but good morning.

This afternoon Lynn worked on getting food ready for tomorrow when the kids come.  They are supposed to show up around 1:00.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we’re going to stay outside the whole time and wear masks.  The temperature is supposed to be around 44o at 1:00.  My job, as usual, was to do the dishes. 

There wasn’t much in the news today possibly because people are on Christmas break now instead of writing news stories.  I feel sure not much has changed in the war on coronavirus.  CNN did publish an alarming statistic today:  The United States reached a grim milestone on Saturday: 1 in 1,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 since the nation’s first reported infection in late January.  Census Bureau estimates for the last week of December place the US population at around 330,750,000. On Saturday afternoon, the national death toll from Covid-19 reached 331,116, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Here are today’s statistics:

December 26       Infected                   Died

World               80,626,824           1,763,663

US                     19,362,509              339,561

Virginia               329,577                  4,840

Augusta County       2,963                       23

The vaccination statistics for Virginia and Augusta County were unchanged.  I wish this weren’t the case. 

Tonight Staples called me around 8:00 and said the calendars were ready so I drove in and picked them up.  That way I can distribute them to Ann and Kay when they come tomorrow.  We may be going to Roanoke on Monday and can give Jim’s to him then.  We’ll mail those to Lynn’s sister Jane, my brother Butch, and my sister Mary K.  I am pleased with the way they turned out.

December 27, 2020

We had our family Christmas today.  It happened just like we planned—entirely outdoors.  Jim came (by himself) so we had thirteen in all.  Everyone was socially distant and masked.  The temperature was in the low 40’s and high 30’s so it was far from ideal.  But the sun was shining and it all went as well as we could have expected.

First we opened presents, one at a time, as usual.  I took lots of pictures, of course.  Then we ate finger foods which Lynn had prepared.  Ann and Kay each brought some, too.  We had plenty of food.

Meanwhile the kids played great in the backyard.  We have such a nice yard for them to play in including the tennis court.  Jim had come early and brought with him a new set of steps he had built for the playset.  He and I only needed about 45 minutes to get them all attached and well anchored.  As always, he did excellent work on building the steps.  They playset will last for years now—at least until his boys have outgrown them.  I can’t wait until they are able to come here and play.  They have not been here since Thanksgiving, 2019.

The only disappointment was that our patio heater wouldn’t stay on.  It would come on and stay on for a few minutes then it would turn itself off.  I’m not sure what caused that.  It was a little windy so perhaps the wind is what kept putting the flame out.

Seeing the family was certainly the high point.  Everyone seems to get along so well.  The kids all played well outside, swinging on the playset, riding the see saw, playing tennis, riding bikes and Big Wheels, and basketball.  We are so lucky.  I feel so blessed.

I really hope we don’t have to do Christmas like this again.  It just isn’t right to go this season without hugging our grandchildren.  Likewise, if it weren’t for COVID-19 I’m confident Coen and Faron would have joined Jim today.  We’ll have a lot of catching up to do once we are vaccinated.

Lynn’s sister Kay is still not feeling great.  I believe she is a little better but this virus has been no picnic for her.  She’s had a bad cough and today was throwing up so bad she went to the Augusta Health outpatient clinic for some assistance.  She was feeling better tonight.

December 27       Infected                   Died

World               81,102,664           1,771,149

US                     19,549,211              340,952

Virginia               333,576                  4,854

Augusta County       3,016                       24

The US numbers are down again with the explanation probably underreporting on the weekend.  Virginia’s certainly are not; there were 4,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County had one more death and 53 new cases.  There are now 67 people from Augusta County hospitalized with COVID-19.  Dr. Fauci still insists that the worst is still ahead of us thanks to people letting their guard down over Christmas and New Years. 

Virginia apparently hasn’t learned how to count its vaccinations because the total on the VDH website today was actually 5,000 less than it was two days ago.  Go figure!  Likewise, the number of people vaccinated in Augusta County today was listed as 90 whereas two days ago it was 103. 

December 28, 2020

I did my usual Monday tasks today at Central, taking care of counting the offering and depositing the money in the bank and on QuickBooks.  I had about four bills to pay plus some other minor tasks so I ended up working there most of the morning.  I took a look at when last year’s end-of-year tax forms were filled in and they weren’t done until January 13 so I’ve got some time before I plow into those.  I’ve never done them before so I’m a little anxious about getting the W-2’s and other tax forms submitted properly.

In the afternoon, I made a run to the dump.  Ann and Josh had a lot of trash, too, so it took me a little longer than usual.  After I finished with it, I stopped at the Mount Sidney US Post Office and mailed 2021 calendars to Butch, Mary K., Lynn’s sister Jane who is now in Florida, and Jim.  We had forgotten to give him his calendar yesterday when he was here.

We also had time to do a Zoom meeting with Jim and his boys.  They opened their presents from us.  They are so much fun—never still.

That’s about all I got done today.  Lynn had her Cheryl friends over in the morning for their back porch meeting.  The temperatures were in the low 50’s so they weren’t too cold.  In the afternoon she hand delivered the 2021 Hanger calendars to her brother Bill and sister Kay.  Now we have all the calendars distributed.

In 2017 I had given our three children hard drives with all of my pictures, movies, and some documents on them.  I suggested that they bring the drives back on Sunday but only Ann remembered.  So I updated her drive with all of the pictures, movies, and appropriate documents since that time.  There are now over 52,000 pictures!

ABC said there have been more than 65,000 COVID-19 deaths in December, the worst month yet.  Supposedly, 20 million people were going to be vaccinated in December but so far only 2 million have been.  I don’t know why there’s such a hold up.

Here are today’s numbers:

December 28       Infected                   Died

World               81,606,458           1,780,218

US                     19,740,119              342,840

Virginia               336,175                  4,861

Augusta County       3,098                       24

Virginia’s vaccination total increased by only 49.  Why did only 49 people in the entire state of Virginia get a vaccine today?  Augusta County’s total is only 97.  The total for the entire state is just 41,709.

December 29, 2020

We’ve agreed to stay out of stores as much as possible but we needed groceries today both for us and for the Food Pantry so we shopped early today during senior hours and light foot traffic.  Lynn got groceries from Aldi’s, Martin’s, and Target all before 9:00.  Then we went to Costco for the 9:00 senior time and finished up.  We were headed home by 9:20.

As soon as we got home Lynn started cooking a sausage casserole she had made for Ann’s family.  When it was ready I took it over for their breakfast.

We had some time to spare today so we decided to take down our Christmas tree.  This is the earliest we’ve ever taken in down but this year’s tree was so dry we thought it might be a fire hazard.  It was kept in water the entire time but didn’t seem to drink it at all.  I should have made a fresh cut on its base when I set it up but I did not.  It was a very pretty tree; it was unfortunate that no one ever saw it up close except for Lynn and me thanks to the pandemic.  Perhaps the only other person who was in the same room as the tree was Connie who cleans house for us. 

We also had time to take the groceries we bought for the Food Pantry to Central today.  Their Costco order was one that we’ve got before:  sugar and coffee.  These are items that the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank doesn’t provide. 

We also had time to walk twice today.  First we walked about a mile in our neighborhood.  While we walked, Steve and Bev Coffman stopped and talked with us.  They had received the same Christmas card we got from Kay which featured pictures of Thomas and Georgia.  Our second walk was a lap around Gypsy Hill Park after we unloaded the Food Pantry groceries.  The temperature was in the low 40’s but we were bundled up.  We wore our masks in Gypsy Hill, too.

We decided to get hamburgers tonight from our favorite food truck instead of eating leftovers.  As usual, the burgers were good.  I ate another piece of apple pie tonight; tomorrow I will finish the entire pie.

My final task of the day was to do lots of backup work on my computers.  I had some files on my laptop which weren’t on the iMac downstairs and vice versa.  Plus, I hadn’t backed up my laptop to its external hard drive for a month.  All of that is taken care of now.

A funny story I ran into today was that in November, the Texas Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick offered a million dollar reward to whomever could produce evidence of voter fraud.  He was hoping to find a way to help out Donald Trump in his hopeless case.  Well, the Pennsylvania Democrat Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman asked Patrick to pay up because he had uncovered three cases of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.  All three were cases where people voted illegally for Trump!  In two of them, men tried to vote for their dead mothers. 

ABC news tonight was more of the same…COVID-19 spikes, vaccinations sputter.  Coronavirus hospitalizations reached a new high with over 121,000.  More than 337,000 lives have been lost.  Joe Biden and Dr. Fauci both said January would likely be worse than December which was the worst month thus far.  Biden slammed the Trump administration for the slowdown in the number of vaccinations.  Biden said that at the current rate it will take years, not months, to get everyone vaccinated.  Only 2.1 million people are reported to have been vaccinated thus far. 

Here are today’s statistics:

December 29       Infected                   Died

World               82,268,242           1,794,722

US                     19,949,391              346,258

Virginia               340,297                  4,920

Augusta County       3,215                       24

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       47,052                       

            Augusta County              158

Virginia continues to have 4,000 new cases each day.  And the number of deaths in Virginia increased by 59 in just one day.  Augusta County’s number of infections increased by 117 in just 24 hours.  This is scary.

December 30, 2020

I did a project today that Lynn had asked me to do.  She found several newspaper clippings in a small chest from her parents’ house about her Dad’s young days.  There were several articles about his baseball and basketball feats from the 1930’s.  He was quite an athlete!  There were others from his military service in England during World War II plus the announcement of his engagement to Betty Harris.  I scanned each of them and put them together in a 15 page booklet which can be printed or shared electronically.  She wants to print them and bind them in a booklet for her brother and sisters.  That sounds like a worthwhile project.  She even said she could laminate the cover page using the laminator I bought her for Christmas.

I also spent some time putting some of our Christmas items away above the garage.  We took the Christmas tree and stockings down yesterday but are keeping the exterior decorations up for a while.  I made around 20 trips up and down the ladder carrying boxes—not easy work!

From ABC news today:  The United States reported 3,725 deaths on Tuesday, breaking the previous single-day total of 3,656 set on Dec. 16, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. December has already been determined to be the worst month on record for cases, hospitalizations and deaths, surpassing the high numbers seen in April.  More bad news:  a 41 year old Congressman-elect from Louisiana has died from COVID-19.  He had no underlying medical conditions.  Today’s Charleston Gazette also carries the obituary for my cousin David Dean who died due to coronavirus.  The obituary says clearly this was his cause of death.  He was 68 years old.  And a friend of ours from Central UMC, Susan Obaugh, has been admitted to Augusta Health with pneumonia and COVID-19.

California reported that the new strain of COVID-19 which has ravaged Great Britain has been discovered there.  Likewise, the variant virus was discovered in Colorado.  Who knows where else it might be?

Lynn had a suggestion that I followed through on today.  She asked me to call my pulmonary doctor’s office and see what plans they had to get people in their care vaccinated.  It helped that a nurse there, Kara Johnson, formerly worked as the school nurse at Cub Run Elementary School with Lynn.  So I called and left a message for Kara to please call me back.  A few hours later she did.  She said that I wasn’t the first to call with that question; in fact, they had started a list and today she added my name to the list.  She said they had not been told when patients like me would be vaccinated.  Indeed, she hasn’t been vaccinated herself.  But when our time comes she’ll call.  That was comforting to hear.

It was cold and windy today but Lynn still braved the chill and walked with her friend Ginny Bauman.  I stayed inside.

Today we received the final present we had ordered.  It was an unusual one I had ordered—a book called Mathematics from the Life Science Library.  My parents had bought this book for my siblings and me in the 1960’s.  I had read it at various times of my childhood and career.  It has some very interesting facts and ideas from math that I used including a page on topology where a person shows how to take your vest off without taking your coat off thereby proving that the vest never was underneath the coat to begin with!  I found copies of this book, copyrighted in 1963, on Amazon and ordered one for the Foy family and one for the Gutshall family.  They finally got here today.  I’ll get them delivered sometime soon.

Since my mind was in a nostalgic mood today after scanning the old newspaper articles from Mr. Hanger’s youth plus looking back through the Mathematics book, I did some checking on the availability of newspaper articles from my youth.  If I were to spend about $50 I could get a 6 month subscription to a site which has pages from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph from my youth which can be excerpted.  I did some checking and did find old Bramwell High School basketball game stories and a story about a tennis tournament I won in Bluefield on August 21, 1977.  This was the day Ann was baptized.  From her baptism service I came to Bluefield and played in and won the finals of the Bluefield Open tournament, the largest tournament I ever won.  It was fun to look back though I did not spend the money to be able to extract the articles.  Maybe some day…

It took Augusta County from the beginning of COVID-19 infections until June 4 to reach 117 infections.  That’s three months.  But yesterday there were 117 new infections in just 24 hours.  Today’s number of infections, which I’ll paste shortly, is somewhat lower but there were 4 new deaths in the past 24 hours.  It took Augusta County until July 29 to reach a total of 4 deaths due to COVID-19.  Now we’ve had that many in just the past 24 hours.  These are really worrisome times.  When we go to stores now we almost never see anyone without a mask.  I have to wonder about the 117 people who just got infected—were they not mask wearers?

I needed to pay some of Central’s bills and check on a few things with QuickBooks so I waited today until late afternoon when I knew I’d be the only one in the building.  Sure enough, I was by myself and got my work done quickly there.  I think I was very safe in doing it this way.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

December 30       Infected                   Died

World               82,990,762           1,809,982

US                     20,173,070              349,976

Virginia               344,345                  4,984

Augusta County       3,253                       28

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       54,295                       

            Augusta County              280

Virginia’s numbers remain way too high—over 4,000 new cases and 64 new deaths overnight.  As I mentioned before, Augusta County’s deaths increased by 4 in just one day.  There were some more vaccinations today but this entire process is moving too slowly.  Supposedly there have been 14 million vaccinations distributed to states but only 2.5 million have been administered.

December 31, 2020

Today is the last day of the worst year of my life.  I am sure hoping for a 2021 that is so unlike this past year.  2020 was devoid of so much of what I previously took for granted:  travel, ball games, shows in big and small theatres, family dinners, leisure shopping, visits, grandchildren in our house, eating in restaurants, church services, concerts, school performances, movies, hugs, handshakes, and seeing people’s faces.   I hate that anytime I get near someone other than Lynn I start asking myself “Could this person be contagious?”  I am not happy with myself that when I see a person not wearing a mask, I immediately judge them as being unfit to live.  I do not like living in fear.  Though I am not a very social person, I am embarrassed to have to consciously try to avoid contact with people.

I believe this is the 257th consecutive day I have written during this pandemic.  I am up to almost 400 single spaced pages.  I will be happy to quit writing and will likely do so once Lynn and I have both been vaccinated.  Until then, I remain in fear and write as one way to deal with my angst.

This afternoon WVU played Army in the Liberty Bowl.  WVU is historically not good in bowl games.  Coming into the game, the Mountaineers had played in 37 bowl games but only won 15 of them.  So my expectations were not high.  But this was Army, not Alabama.  The Mountaineers started off fine and were ahead 10-7 with the ball late in the first half before the quarterback fumbled it near the Army end zone.  Soon they were down 14-10.  They fell behind 21-10 early in the third quarter before scoring to make the score 21-16.  After two other possessions in which dropped passes killed them, they held Army then scored with five minutes to go.  They were successful on the two point conversion so they took the lead 24-21.  Army then missed a field goal but held WVU so they took over with a minute and a half left.  But WVU intercepted to preserve the win.  Yippee!

Watching WVU sports this year has been trying.  The football team can’t catch the ball.  The basketball team can’t shoot the ball.  Today there were at least a half dozen throws that should have been caught by the WVU receivers but they dropped them.

At least we were safe today.  I did go to the post office to mail a letter but was inside the building for only 10-15 seconds and then only after I saw that all previous customers at the Mount Sidney PO had left.

Here are today’s COVID-19 numbers:

December 31       Infected                   Died

World               83,744,085           1,824,056

US                     20,416,740              353,674

Virginia               349,584                  5,032

Augusta County       3,307                       29

            Vaccinated

            Virginia                       64,882                       

            Augusta County              482

The Virginia numbers are awful. In just one day, there are 5,200 new cases and 48 new deaths.  Augusta County’s numbers increased by 54.  There are 76 Augusta County residents hospitalized including Susan Obaugh.  We did get word that Gilberto Jiminez is improving.  He’s been in the hospital for something like two months now.

November 2020: Life in the COVID-19 era

November 1, 2020

I used to look forward to an extra hour of sleep.  Last night it was an extra night of Hallmark movie watching.  I fell asleep early but awoke at 3:00.  By then Lynn had the Hallmark channel streaming.  I ended up watching two movies then finally got up.  One thing about growing old is that your sleep cycle is too easily disrupted.  I get tired early at night but awake long before daylight.

Another thing about returning to standard time I had forgotten about is how hungry I get at times that aren’t quite eating times.  I ate lunch around 11:00 today and was awaiting dinner by 4:00.

For the second time in a month, someone has stolen our Biden sign from the front yard.  How petty!  They bent over our “I’ve already voted for Biden” sign so I straightened it back up.  There are hundreds of Trump posters in our area.  I’m confident that Biden will win Virginia but not Augusta County but that doesn’t excuse someone from allowing us to support him.  They can take our sign but not our commitment.

Lynn has been on overdrive with craft projects.  I don’t want to give away all she’s been doing but she has been at it all day today with two projects.  She really gets good use out of her Cricut machine nowadays.

We did get a chance to walk a couple of miles today in the early afternoon.  It was a little windy but not that cold.  The temperature outside was around 60o.  By mid-afternoon it had turned much windier.  Her foot is definitely doing better. 

Lynn and I have begun to make plans for a December driving trip.  Unlike previous years in which we’d try to catch some Christmas shows, this year, thanks to COVID-19, we’ll likely limit ourselves to outdoor Christmas decorations.  She’s come up with some towns which apparently have good drive-through vistas.  I believe she is leaning toward Asheville NC, which is about five hours from here.  We’ve been there several times.

One thing nice about the Hallmark Channel is that there are plenty of commercials but no political ones.  Why did the Republicans and Democrats choose to not buy ads there?  Maybe they weren’t offered the opportunity.  Either way it has been refreshing.  The Hallmark movies have been on at our house all day though I confess I’m getting a little tired of plots involving a Christmas festival at the local small town with city people getting stuck there due to the snow.

We went to a few Dollar Tree and Dollar General stores after dinner tonight so Lynn could look for some craft materials she needed.  She was only mildly successful.  It was so unusual for us to be leaving home after dark.  Of course, it gets dark now at 5:00 pm.

There wasn’t much news about COVID-19 today.  Here are the statistics:

November 1         Infected                   Died

World               46,804,423           1,205,044

US                       9,473,720              236,471

Virginia               182,392                  3,655

Augusta County          718                         9

Virginia had 1200 new cases but only 1 new death.  The US had 73,000 new cases.  Ugh!

 

November 2, 2020

Today is the last day before our momentous election.  I hope the polls are correct but only four years ago the polls said Hillary Clinton would be our next President.  I have my fingers crossed and my vote already counted.

I am so looking forward to Butch’s visit.  I have written many times and places before that I wish I could see him more.  It is sad that his ability to travel only came about due to Ann’s death.  We have lived in this house for 32 years and he has never stayed here before.  That will change tomorrow night.  He is a lot like Lynn—smart, talented, good-hearted, and great company.

Today was the first Monday of November so I had extra work to do at Central.  I first had to get all of the information entered into QuickBooks for our new employee, Savannah Murrin, who started working this morning.  I had not entered a new employee before so I had to make sure I did all the federal and state forms correctly.  And I had to get her salary setup property in QuickBooks.  I hope I got it all right!

I had some bills to pay but I also now have bank accounts to reconcile since we’re into November now.  I hope to get the accounts reconciled tomorrow morning before Butch comes.  I can’t leave for Central until after our furnace is serviced, though.

This afternoon was a special school day for Freddie.  He ordinarily goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays but since tomorrow is a holiday with Election Day, he had school today.  It was too cold when he got off the bus for him to play outside so I took him to the basement where he played Wii while he waited on Ann to get here.  That worked out OK.

Lynn and I grabbed take-out from Cracker Barrel tonight.  We both like the country ham & biscuit breakfast meal which only costs $4.99 each.  I also had some ham & bean soup which we had picked up from Central yesterday.  Millie Brown made it so you know it was good.

ABC news has pointed out many times that the pandemic and the election are closely intertwined.  Here’s some of today’s news about this:  With Election Day just hours away, coronavirus cases are rising in every key political battleground state around the country, according to an ABC News analysis, a striking reality that highlights the inextricable link between the pandemic and the 2020 race for president, despite Donald Trump‘s best efforts to refocus the conversation elsewhere.  Deaths and hospitalizations are rising as well.  The outbreak is hitting in record numbers nationwide — but the virus is spreading faster in cases per population in many hotly contested states, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Wisconsin and Texas, according to the analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.  Just this week, Pennsylvania, one of the most likely tipping points in the election, broke its single-day new case record this week with over cases 2,700 reported — the highest since the start of the pandemic. In Wisconsin, there have been more than 150,000 new cases in just the past two months — nearly double all the cases reported from March through the end of August combined.

It will be very interesting to see the voter turnout.  Already over 93 million Americans have voted.  In 2016, a total of 136.7 million voted.

ABC also had this interesting article:  At a rally Sunday in Opa-locka, Florida, that stretched late into the night, President Donald Trump entertained the raucous crowd with the idea that he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, after the election.  Trump made the suggestion after his supporters began chanting “Fire Fauci.” It’s a favorite among Trump’s most ardent supporters, who believe the severity of the virus is being overplayed by Fauci and the news media in a bid to undermine the president’s popularity. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump told the crowd about firing Fauci.  But ABC retorted that Fauci is a career civil servant, not a political appointee, and his protected by law from political retaliation. If the president wanted to fire Fauci, he would have to claim some kind of performance problem or misconduct – a tall order for a doctor has served six presidents and is highly regarded among public health experts.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 2         Infected                   Died

World               47,302,604           1,210,896

US                       9,563,357              236,957

Virginia               183,418                  3,658

Augusta County          719                         9

The US isn’t getting any better—90,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  As usual, another 1,000 new cases in Virginia. 

 

November 3, 2020

My 70th birthday turned out to be one of my best ever.  There were so many wonderful things about today.  I had a wonderful morning with Lynn, got some good work done at Central UMC, welcomed my brother for a great visit this afternoon, and enjoyed Jim’s company this evening.  Between I talked and/or Facetimed with Kay and her kids and Ann and kids.  I got very nice cards from multiple people, inside and out of our family, and some cool presents, too.  But the best was how much I enjoyed the company I had today.

After a nice breakfast with Lynn, I went to Central where I got all four bank accounts reconciled for October.  I also finished writing the first section of the training manual I’m writing for our new administrative assistant for QuickBooks.  I finished the Deposit section.  It took me a while but I got home in the early afternoon before Butch came.

He arrived around 2:00.  We spent a superb day together.  He replaced a breaker in our electrical panel which seemed to fix the issue I had with one of our circuits.  Then he installed a ground fault receptacle in our bedroom which helped us eliminate several extension cords which could have been fire hazards.  But it wasn’t all work—we also took a two mile hike and chatted a lot.  We got back from our hike just before Jim came.

Jim cut the leaves in our front lawn with his fancy mower then he went with Butch and me to Chicano Boys to grab our dinner.  Lynn had a 6:00 parent-teacher conference she was interpreting for so she couldn’t go with us.  She had an earlier conference as well.  Butch was kind enough to buy our dinners which we ate as soon as Lynn’s conference was over. 

All of this was going on as the news focused on the election.  As of the time I’m writing this things are still well in the air as to who will win the election.  Lynn and I will likely be watching well into the night, hoping for good news.

Lynn has asked me to get an Apple watch.  I’ve looked at the models and will likely order one tomorrow at her insistence.  I guess I can put it to good use.  I also got nice presents from Kay and Ann.  Kay got me a Shenandoah Valley apple cake from a Virginia bakery.  Ann got me an advent calendar with tasty preserves for each day.

Butch brought several things for me including an electrical meter, a WVU hat, and an Ohio U shirt.  He has done so much planning for our Thanksgiving dinner.

I also had a nice phone call from Paul and Sandy Porterfield this morning.  We’re hoping we can meet at the Greenbrier in February, possibly with Hal and Diane, too.  That would be super!

Coronavirus has taken a back seat today but I’m sure it hasn’t let up any just because it’s election day or my birthday.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 3         Infected                   Died

World               47,844,347           1,220,210

US                       9,692,528              238,641

Virginia               184,679                  3,666

Augusta County          732                         9

My math is that the number of new cases in the US is almost 130,000.  That is unbelievable.  Virginia had 1,200 new cases.

I am so thankful for living this long and this well and for being surrounded by loved ones.  I have been truly blessed.

 

November 4, 2020

Being so anxious about the election, last night was not a good nighit for sleep.  I awoke at 2:00 AM and didn’t really get back to sleep before getting up at 5:30. 

Never before have we not known the results of a Presidential election 24 hours after the polls closed but that is the case tonight.  The race is still very, very tight with votes being counted in a handful of states that will determine the outcome of this election.  As of this moment, Biden needs only a couple of more states to claim victory but he trails in most though the mail-in ballots now being counted tend to be Democratic.  It may be another 24 hours before we know.

I had another great day today especially with Butch’s company.  We got more jobs done today including installing another ground fault receptacle in Lynn’s sewing room. 

We ate well again, too.  We had Lynn’s English Muffins for breakfast.  For lunch, in addition to Millie Brown’s ham and bean soup, we had Lynn’s delicious apple pie again today.  This afternoon Lynn made more English Muffins and pepperoni rolls.  Wiley enjoys them so Butch will be taking back a bunch for him.  Tonight we got pizza and rigatoni from Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird and followed that up with ice cream from Smiley’s.  I’ve gained weight since Butch has been here!

We did get in some exercise this afternoon.  It was a marvelous day, sunny and warm, and the three of us walked the 3.7 mile Leaport Loop. 

After dinner, we were entertained with some ancient slides Butch brought.  There were about 100 slides in all, one set from Lynn’s college days in Mexico, one set from our rehearsal dinner, one set from Christmas in Altoona in 1978, and a small set from Morgantown in 1979.  He’s leaving the slides with me and I’ll get them all digitized.

Butch has made so many plans for Thanksgiving.  I hope it all works out for everyone.  He’s sparing no punches in expense.

With all the election hoopla going on, no one is paying attention to COVID-19 today.  Here are the stats:

November 4         Infected                   Died

World               48,411,814           1,230,100

US                       9,799,036              239,820

Virginia               185,836                  3,677

Augusta County          736                         9

It wasn’t a good day, either.  The US had over 100,000 new cases.  Whew!  Virginia had over 1,100 new cases. 

We’re heading to bed and will likely have the news on for a little while to see if Biden can creep closer to 270.  We’ll probably fall asleep long before he or Trump makes it, though.

 

November 5, 2020

We’re two days beyond the election and still don’t know who our next President will be.  It is looking much better for Joe Biden.  He can possibly win Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.  Trump will likely win North Carolina.  But Biden already has 253 electoral votes; Trump has only 214 so Trump cannot afford to lose any two of those states.  Biden is currently up in Arizona and Nevada; Trump leads in the other four but most of the votes being counted now are mailed-in votes which are heavily in favor of Biden.  Perhaps even later tonight we’ll know.  Some states are saying it will be well into Friday before they have them all counted.

COVID-19 is not stopping due to the election turmoil.  In fact, the US set a record for the most number of cases in one day in the past 24 hours. 

It has been almost funny watching Trump’s behavior during the past two days.  He has called for stopping the counting of votes (a real American thing to do!) in those states where he is leading yet calling for the count to continue in those in which he trails.  How ridiculous can he be!  He keeps saying the election has been fraudulent for which there is zero evidence.  He has tried to initiatve law suits in many of the states but certainly any judge, even if Republican, will dismiss those suits.

Tonight, Trump gave a speech to the public.  Earlier Biden spoke for a few minutes, saying that although he believes he will be declared the winner, he asked that Americans be patient until all the votes are counted.  He bragged about nothing and only seriously talked about the coronavirus pandemic.  When Trump took the microphone this evening, he said “if you count the legal votes, I easily win.  If you count the illegal votes they can try to steal the eletion from us.”  The truth is the votes that are coming in now and are causing his leads to disappear are mailed-in ones which were 100% legally submitted.  He bragged about all the Republican victories in the Senate and House.  He claimed that the Democrats benefited from spending by the rich and said Republicans were the party of the working class.  He showed absolutely no hint of conceding anything, hardly a surprise.  He won’t concede even when 100% of the votes have been counted.

Trump claims the election will end up in the Supreme Court.  He smeared the integrity of those working at the polls, lied that the mailed in voters were bogus, and illogically flailed away at the process of counting votes.  The irony is that he himself has voted by mail for years!

Lynn found a cute Facebook post today.  It said “when one door closes, another one opens.”  The first half of the quote had a picture of the White House behind it.  The second half had a picture of a jail cell.

Butch returned home today and messaged us that he got there safely.  It was a superb visit for Lynn and me and I honestly believe he likewise enjoyed it a lot.  It had been way too long that we spent quality time together.  I hope we are able to visit again often, not just at Thanksgiving which is only three weeks away.

Having been away from Central for a couple of days, I had some work to do on Central’s books today including one credit card reconciliation for October.  I have another one to do tomorrow and have several bills to pay.  I spent a good bit of time working on the manual I am writing for Savannah to use when I start teaching her how to do the bookkeeping.

Central’s bookkeeping has some tasks which are done weekly, one done twice a month, many done once monthly, and some done once each quarter.  I’ve been writing this training manual by focusing first on the tasks that are done weekly (deposits and bill paying).  I’ve finished that part now and am working on the credit card part now, especially since it was fresh in my mind from having reconciled one of our accounts today.

Lynn’s mother is not doing well at all now.  The hospice people have told her and her brother and sisters that perhaps her body is shutting down now.  She sleeps all the time, eats very little, and is just not herself.  Lynn visited her today but her only interaction was to watch her sleep.  It is sad but at least she is not in much pain.  We can all hope to make it to 101.

The news media tonight is going beserk over Trump’s defiance tonight claiming he is being cheated out of victory.  Many called for other elected Republican officials to stand up and defy his lying claims.

This story is easy to explain.  The Democrats, under the urging of Biden and others due to the pandemic, by and large voted early and frequently by mail.  The Republicans, under the urging of Trump, voted in person.  So when the votes are counted, the in-person votes are counted first and it is no surprise that Trump jumped out to a big lead.  Now that the mailed in votes are being counted and his lead is evaporating, he is claiming foul play.  There is nothing foul about this!  Yet he is claiming cheating and his loyal supporters, who believe everything he says, may perhaps resort to violence.  I hope not.

The big story tonight beyond the election is the continuing spread of COVID-19.  I commented to Lynn tonight that everywhere we go we see people wearing masks now.  Yet even in our county the number of cases is increasing.  Are the people who are wearing masks coming down with coronavirus?  I certainly hope not because she and I are among those who go to the stores though always with a mask.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 5         Infected                   Died

World               48,997,626           1,238,746

US                       9,913,215              240,910

Virginia               187,202                  3,688

Augusta County          742                         9

Indeed, there were over 113,000 new cases in the US in just the past 24 hours.  There were over 1,100 new cases in Virginia.  Were these people mask wearers?  I am concerned.

Tonight we had a Family Zoom meeting.  We weren’t able to last night since Butch was here.  One of the things I had to share with them is that Lynn talked me into buying an Apple watch for my birthday.  I’m going to order it from Apple.  Tonight we went to Verizon and talked with them about adding it to our account so I can answer my phone using it.  I suppose I’ll get it ordered tomorrow.

 

November 6, 2020

The weather has been beautiful for the past several days and the forecast is for more of the same for almost another week.  This is Indian Summer with highs in the 70’s and no sign of rain. 

Overnight and throughout the day the Presidential vote count continued.  It was amazing to watch this scene unfold.  From being way behind Tuesday night, by this afternoon Biden had taken a lead in the critical states of Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania—much more than he needed to secure the nomination.  He didn’t make up enough ground in Alaska or North Carolina to beat Trump but that didn’t matter.   But by the evening he was ahead by 23,000 votes in Nevada, 39,000 in Arizona, 4,100 in Georgia, and 15,000 in Pennsylvania.  Officially, none of these states were called for Biden yet but it won’t be long until all are.

I would have loved to have seen the look on Trump’s face over the last two days as his lead—as much as 450,000 in Pennsylvania—shrunk then disappeared.  By dinner time this evening, Biden was up by 15,000 votes in Pennsylvania and more votes were coming in.  Like most of the others that were counted yesterday and today, these are mailed in votes and are mainly Democratic. 

As I wrote yesterday, the spread of COVID-19 has gotten much, much worse over the past week, especially in the Midwest.  We’ve averaged over 100,000 new cases in each of the last three days in America.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 6         Infected                   Died

World               49,624,630           1,247,839

US                     10,044,774              242,113

Virginia               188,770                  3,682

Augusta County          750                         9

That’s more than 1,500 new cases in Virginia.  The number of deaths reported was lowered from the previous day—I’m not sure what went on there.

Trump has acted like a spoiled brat for the past two days, claiming the election was stolen from him, making baseless claims of voter fraud everywhere, and shows absolutely no sign of conceding even though the electoral college vote will now be a landslide.  What has been very interesting is to see how other Republicans have responded to his shenanigans.  Way too many of them, especially those in power like Mitch McConnell, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, and Bill Barr have not condemned him at all.  You’d think that even they would respect the process of counting all the votes.  I expected Trump and his children to act like babies but others should “man up” and admit defeat. 

I ordered my Apple watch this morning.  Now I’ll have to learn how to use it once it gets here next week.

I spent a lot of time at Central today.  I processed the payroll for November 13.  It was the first time I’d processed a payroll by myself.  I confess that I did have to call Sarah Russell for one small part of the process.  I took screen shots at every step in the process and after I had submitted our payroll I used them as I wrote the instructional manual I’ve been developing in order to train our administrative assistants.  I also had several bills to pay.

As soon as I got home from CUMC, Lynn and I went to Harrisonburg.  We had to stop by the bank and shop at Costco.  There were several items that I’d been asked to pick up for CUMC plus Lynn got some items for us.  On our way back home we stopped for our weekly Friday night hamburgers at the Old Schoolhouse food truck in Weyers Cave. 

For dessert I finished off the apple pie Lynn had made me for my birthday.  I love apple pie!

 

November 7, 2020

The day started off very early for us; at 3:30 AM we got the call from Lynn’s sister Kay that their mother had passed away.  While it was sad for Lynn to lose her mother, Mrs. Hanger had 101 years of love, good life, and good health.  She was a fine mother-in-law.  I drove Lynn to join Kay at The Legacy around 4:30 and we waited until the funeral home came at 5:30.  Then we came home and put together a draft of her obituary.

What a change in lifestyle this will be for Lynn.  She has gone to The Legacy nearly every day for months to visit with her mother and help her with meals.  She’s not wanted to leave the area for more than one night.  All that will be different now.

True to form, soon after we got back to the house Lynn started working on making more bow ties.  She had made several from old ties her Dad had owned.  She wanted to make one for every grandson and great grandson.  She needed a few more so she immediately got on that task, figuring that she would be seeing many of the recipients at her Mom’s service this coming week.

At 11:00 we went to the funeral home to make the arrangements for her funeral which will be graveside-only.  It is such a shame