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.

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 that COVID-19 will prohibit the family from having a service at Central to honor Mrs. Hanger.  She was the oldest living member at CUMC.  I know there are many in the area who would have come not just to honor Mrs. Hanger but to show their support for her family.

After the arrangements were made, Lynn and her sisters went back to The Legacy to start the process of gathering their mother’s belongings.  It is a process she and I have been through four times now.

When we got back, there was a huge box of food that our neighbors, Bee and Janet Myers, had left for us.  We invited Ann’s family to join us for dinner.

I had time this afternoon to watch the WVU – Texas football game.  It was very tough to watch.  The Mountaineers played very well but three times in the fourth quarter the officials blew it and it cost us the game.  First they overruled a touchdown WVU had scored on a pass saying the receiver didn’t have control of the football.  Then Texas threw a backwards pass which was fumbled and recovered by WVU and the officials said it was an incomplete pass.  But the killer was with a few minutes to go WVU went for it on 4th and goal and threw a pass into the end zone.  The defender was all over the WVU receiver long before the ball got there but no interference was called.  The entire WVU sideline went berserk and even the TV announcers said they couldn’t believe it.  Texas ran out the clock and won 17-13.  We got cheated.  I now I sound like Trump but at least I have evidence.  The replay clearly showed it.

Today is finally celebration time for us on the Biden side.  He was finally declared the winner today though Trump still hasn’t conceded.  There are still some states not called but the current electoral vote count is 290 – 214. 

It has been fun watching the celebrations going on nationwide with the Biden victory.  Thus far there has been no violence, fortunately.  Let’s hope that this will usher in less confrontation, less vitriol, and more unity.

The only bad part about all the partying going on today is the threat of COVID-19.  The people I see on TV celebrating are clearly not keeping their social distance.  This past week has been awful for the US.  I certainly hope that now we can get a grip on this plague.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 7         Infected                   Died

World               50,144,979           1,255,505

US                     10,172,991              243,226

Virginia               190,873                  3,704

Augusta County          788                         9

The numbers are climbing exponentially.  In just 24 hours we’ve had more than 2,000 new cases in Virginia, more than 130,000 new cases in the US.  With all the celebration of the election, there’s a dark cloud over us.

We’re both pretty wiped out this evening; it has been a long day.  I’m not sure we’ll be able to stay up for the President-Elect’s speech.  Oh well, that’s why we have a DVR!

 

November 8, 2020

Sure enough, we didn’t stay awake to hear Biden’s speech though we were able to catch most of it throughout the day today.  Lynn especially had a hard time sleeping through the night though I did OK.

This was a typical Sunday except for the weather—another beautiful, warm day.  So far this November the weather has been spectacular.  So has the news with the election….

After my Zoom Sunday School class Lynn and I made a quick trip to Harrisonburg where she shopped at both Kohl’s and Belk.  Then we came back in time for her to get bread ready to be baked.  Her friend Pat came over at 2:00 and brought a bunch of food for us. 

There’s still a lot of unknowns about the election results.  Of course, Trump hasn’t conceded.  Biden has announced he will be appointing a coronavirus task force but there’s some concern that the current administration won’t share the information with them.

The map of the cases shows that Virginia is in better shape than most states but there have still been over 100,000 new cases daily in the US.  Virginia is listed as one of eight states whose new cases in the past week compared to the previous week were steady.  There were 35 states showing a 10-50% increase and seven states showing more than a 50% increase.  None showed a decrease.  In terms of new deaths over the past week versus the previous week, Virginia was one of six states actually showing a 10 – 50% decrease.  There were 3 states showing more than a 50% decrease, 16 holding steady, 15 showing a 10 – 50% increase and 10 showing a 50% or more increase.  So the news could be worse for us though it is still awful for the US.

I’ve been working on a fun project—preparing a folder of slides for Thanksgiving.  Butch asked me if I could project pictures during our meal so I’m putting together an appropriate subset of my 50,000+ pictures.   I’ve picked about 2,000 for the show; it will project about 650 per hour so if the dinner lasts around three hours then most of the pictures will be seen.

This afternoon we went back to The Legacy and loaded up six trash bags of clothes that Mrs. Hanger had there.  We took them to Central for the Clothes Pantry there.  She had a lot of clothes!

Lynn’s friend Pat Collins came over to visit with her today and brought some soup which we had for dinner tonight.  It was a spinach and potato soup—very yummy.  Lynn has so many good friends….

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 8         Infected                   Died

World               50,730,541           1,261,980

US                     10,288,480              243,768

Virginia               192,175                  3,707

Augusta County          789                         9

Augusta County only reported one additional case since yesterday—I hope this is actually the case and not just that nobody is reporting on a Sunday.  The US was again over 100,000 new cases and Virginia had over 1,200 new ones though only three new deaths.

 

November 9, 2020

The news is so repetitive:  COVID-19 is still spreading rampantly, Trump refuses to concede, the weather has been great, and I worked for a long time at Central UMC again.

One thing that doesn’t happen repetitively is that Henry turned 16 today.  Our oldest grandson is driving now and doing very well in school.  Tonight we had our customary treasure hunt for him with one big difference.  For many years I’ve made his treasure hunts math problems he had to solve to figure out the clues.  But this year, since he is taking Spanish 3 at Fort Defiance High School, Lynn made up his treasure hunt—all in Spanish.  I had made him a card with a dozen picures of him over the past year and inside the card we put his monetary present.  We are so proud of him (and the other seven grandchildren!).

The weather was so good that after I had made my run from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to Central for our Food Pantry this afternoon I played tennis with Pastor Won.  Both of us were out of shape and didn’t hit very well but at least we were out there.

This morning I made the weekly deposit at Central and did a few more QuickBooks tasks.  I showed Savannah a few things about our setup but didn’t start training her yet in how to do deposits and check writing. 

Pfizer announced today that their vaccine is over 90% effective in preventing COVID-19.  It means that protection from Covid-19 is achieved 28 days after the initial vaccination, which consists of a two-dose schedule. The CEO of Pfizer called it “a great day for science and humanity.”   It can’t come too quickly:  five days in a row the US has had over 100,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.

ABC news reported that Pfizer said they will provide the vaccine to health care providers and seniors first.  They need an emergency authorization from the CDC before distributing it.  ABC said that by December or January, health care workers would get it.  By February through March, seniors would get it and most Americans could have it by April through June.  Let’s hope!

Another issue, of course, is that many Americans are anti-vaxers and won’t take it no matter what.  They are just plain stupid IMHO.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 9         Infected                   Died

World               51,222,215           1,268,849

US                     10,411,013              244,392

Virginia               193,477                   3713

Augusta County          808                       10

Virginia again had over 1,300 new cases.  Augusta County’s cases jumped by 19 and had one more death. 

 

November 10, 2020

Here was the bad news from ABC this evening:  There were 165,000 new cases of COVID-19 in just the past 24 hours.  Cases are on the rise in all 50 states.  This translate to 74 Americans diagnosed every minute.  Some have warned there could be 20,000,000 infected by Christmas.  There are more Americans hospitalized than ever before. 

The news also included information about Pfizer’s new vaccine and its plans to distribute it.  They say they can produce 20,000,000 doses every month.  By the end of January all health care workers should have it.  This vaccine is hard to move; it must be stored at -94o.    Dr. Fauci says most Americans could get it by late April. 

No surprise, Trump still won’t concede.  He tweeted today “We will win!”  He is pushing Bill Barr to prosecute voting fraud cases even though Barr can’t find any.  The Washington Post reported today that a Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans admitted fabricating allegations of ballot tampering. 

This is the type of leadership America elected in 2016—someone who won’t play by the rules, admit defeat, or graciously allow the next administration to take over.  Every other administration in America’s history has cooperated with its successor.  Trump is not just a lame duck, he is a looney duck.

I should sing the praises of Lynn’s friends.  They have been so thoughtful to her (and me) during this grieving period.  Bee and Janet Myers brought a huge bag of food to use earlier this week; Pat Collins sent a huge pot of spinach and potato soup and a rich chocolate cheese cake.  Cheryl Kent sent ham sandwiches and a cake.  And Ann topped off my palate by dropping by some of the meat loaf she had made for Henry’s birthday yesterday.  Yum!

I hope we’re doing the right thing by keeping our Thanksgiving plans in Ohio intact.  There are several medical professionals encouraging American families to forgo the big dinner this year.

Today was a busy day.  I spent the morning at Central while Lynn went shopping with her friend Cheryl Kent.  Then we met at The Legacy.  I had my truck and first loaded up Mrs. Hanger’s old mattress and a bunch of other trash.  Lynn and I took them to the dump then returned to The Legacy where we loaded up her bed which needs some work.  Jim has offered to look at it.

We got home in time to take a two mile walk.  Today was probably the last pretty day in a long while.  We’ve been spoiled by much higher than average temperatures and no rain.   Tomorrow all of that will come to an end.  We got home in time to meet Freddie.  Ann picked him up and later brought Henry by to get some documents printed at our house.

This evening, after an early dinner, we went to Smiley’s for ice cream than to Walmart to pick up pictures I had sent there of Lynn’s parents.  She wants to hand them out at her mother’s funeral on Saturday.

It took several attempts to get everyone happy but we finally did create an obituary that met with everyone’s approval.  It took longer than I anticipated.  We actually created two obituaries—one for the funeral home to post on its site and an abbreviated version for the Staunton News Leader.

Here are today’s awful coronavirus statistics:

November 10       Infected                   Died

World               51,791,296           1,278,460

US                     10,577,767              245,785

Virginia               194,912                   3726

Augusta County          810                       10

That’s over 1,500 new cases in Virginia over the past 24 hours in addition to the 165,000 new cases in the US.  Tonight we had to go inside Walmart to pick up the pictures I had sent there.  I saw approximately ten men there with no masks on.  Stupidity lives!

 

November 11, 2020

This was a holiday for lots of folks.  For retired people like us, every day is a holiday!  So it was a typical day except we didn’t get mail.

 

I went to CUMC early to work on my QuickBooks manual but returned by 10:00 so we could go to Charlottesville this morning.  Lynn wanted to get some fabric at Jo Ann Fabric in Charlottesville.  She was successful in buying some fabric that would work well as covers for the kids’ seesaw seats so she came home and made them. 

 

Today was rainy, the first sign of rain we’ve had in November.  It was still unseasonably warm and even tonight the temperature is near 60o.  Change is in the forecast, though.

 

The news on the national front is nothing new:  COVID-19 infections are up in all 50 states and Trump is still refusing to concede the election.  The overall vote total for Biden is now more than 5 million higher than Trump’s.  Trump’s lawyers have not been successful in any lawsuit yet regarding the election.  One Facebook post today said he was like the New York Jets:  0-12.

 

I made an appointment with Verizon Wireless in Staunton for tomorrow afternoon.  They are to help me connect my new Apple watch to my phone.  After that I should be able to use it.  So far I haven’t even taken it out of the box it was shipped in.

 

Our garage is overflowing now with furniture and other goods from Mrs. Hanger’s.  I don’t know why I call it a garage—there’s no way a car could fit into it.

 

Lynn and I are considering a short stay at The Greenbrier in early December.  We haven’t made a final decision yet but did check some dates.  We tried to call them today to check on availability/rates but never were able to talk to anyone.  We kept being put on hold and/or asked to leave a message.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

 

November 11       Infected                   Died

World               52,421,132           1,288,895

US                     10,708,007              247,397

Virginia               196,506                   3741

Augusta County          828                       10

 

This was the 8th straight day that the US has had more than 100,000 new cases.  Virginia had over 1,500 new cases.

November 12, 2020

The US has an all-time record in COVID-19 hospitalizations today.  This comes eight months after this thing started.  The vaccine can’t come soon enough!  Throughout the nation hospitals are running out of space according to ABC news.  There were 145,000 new cases yesterday, a record.  Dr. Fauci said today that the same advice he’s been giving for months now needs to be taken seriously.  He said that by April or May the ordinary citizen should be vaccinated. 

Donald Trump said that news about COVID-19 would disappear as soon as the election was over.  This shows his ignorance.

This has been a day of mixed emotions for me.  Nothing seemed to go right this morning.  I decided to open my new Apple watch box and see if I could start setting it up knowing that we had a 1:00 appointment at Verizon to connect it to my phone.  As soon as I took it out of the box it said to set it up using my phone.  But my phone had a message that it couldn’t set up the watch because it needed a software update.  So I let the phone cook for 30 minutes and install the latest IOS on my iPhone 6.  But when I then tried to set it up I again got the message that it couldn’t set up the phone because my phone needed a software update.  But the phone said no more updates were available.

My temper quickly rose so I called the 800 number of Apple and, surprisingly, was connected to a tech support person pretty quickly.  She stumbled with an explanation then told me I needed to update my phone through the computer instead of via WiFi so I connected it and tried.  Same story.  She even took control of my MacBook, couldn’t figure out what to do, then put me on hold.

The explanation was simple, she said.  My iPhone was too old to be used with the watch because it couldn’t be upgraded to the newest IOS and the newest IOS was required by the watch.  I was livid.  I saw nowhere on the Apple Watch site that this was a requirement and the man at Verizon didn’t give me any indication that my iPhone 6 wouldn’t work.  I very unpolitely told the Apple support person that I wanted to buy a watch, not a phone and a watch.  I asked her to direct me to how I could ship the watch back.  I told her that I would think about it before acting but I still wanted to have the option to return the watch because I didn’t want to have to go to the expense of buying a new watch AND a new phone.

Lynn was insistent that my phone was old anyway and I should get a new one.  If it had been just up to me, that watch would be on its way back to Cupertino tonight.  I was really mad.  In the meantime, Lynn had a conflict with our afternoon appointment at Verizon so we moved it to the evening after dinner.

All day I stewed about this.  I went back to the website for the Apple Watch.  I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled and found nothing until I got to the very end.  There, in a tiny, tiny font, was a note that said that iPhone 6+ or higher was required. 

I spent the entire day at Central.  First, I joined a meeting Bill Bushman had arranged with a sound man about improvements to our sound system.  Pastor Won has it in his mind that the video streaming we’re now doing of the Sunday morning services should continue even when the pandemic is behind us.  Yet Bill admitted that only 5-6 people typically watch the stream.  The audio man said if we wanted to upgrade the stream we’d need a dedicated camera, dedicated laptop, and perhaps a monthly contract with a streaming service.  But even when he heard how few people viewed the stream he said that the investment of several thousand dollars in equipment wouldn’t be worth it.  He agreed to rig up a way to connect the iPad now used for streaming to our sound system.  I just hope I can convince Won to stick with this solution.  Our church can’t afford to spend lots of money on an expensive streaming setup, in my opinion.

I then had lots of work to do with QuickBooks.  I won’t rant too much but again I had issues.  I wanted to get screen shots of the reconciliation process for the manual I am writing so I thought it would be easy to undo the October reconciliation, taking screen shots at each step of the process.  But I hadn’t anticipated that the balance which came up as the beginning balance did not match what it was when I reconciled the October books ten days ago.  It took me a while to find the mistake.  I finally was able to get it reconciled again and made all the screen shots I needed.

I only have three more sections of the manual to write:  apportionments, taxes, and payroll liabilities.  I also need to do a table of contents.  The manual already is over 45 pages and will be around 50 when I finish.  Maybe I can get the apportionment section done tomorrow.  I’ll have to wait until next week to do the other two when the taxes and payroll liabilities are paid.

I got home in time to meet Freddie’s school bus.  Josh came over soon thereafter and dropped Henry to do some homework using our WiFi.  Lynn and I grabbed a calzone from the Mount Sidney Flying Pizza then headed to Verizon.

I promised Lynn that I would hold my temper there and it wasn’t easy, especially when the sales rep kept adding on things I needed to pay to get a new phone (set up charges, transfer charges, monthly charges, new phone cost).  The total came to around $500.  I had backed up my iPhone 6 to my laptop in the morning and took it with me into the Verizon store.  I opted to get the same phone Lynn got, an iPhone SE.  I was able to restore all of my apps and settings to the new phone while we were still at Verizon then the Verizon employee connected my new watch to it.

I’ll have to admit I’ve had some fun playing with the watch this evening.  It is fairly simple to use and will mean I won’t have to constantly get my phone out of my pocket to answer or make calls.  I’ll look like Star Trek talking to my watch.

The watch also gets my messages and e-mails.  It keeps track of lots of other things such as my heart rate, the current weather and its forecast, etc.  Maybe I’ll like it…

I could just copy and paste the news about coronavirus and Donald Trump from any of the past several days:  cases rising, still no concessions and more false claims.

ABC said this about Trump:  President Donald Trump, who has remained almost entirely out of sight for nearly a week, has demonstrated little evidence of — or interest in — governing in the wake of the election, as he persists in refusing to concede defeat.  The president’s absence from the spotlight — the longest stretch of silence of his presidency – comes as the coronavirus pandemic rages across most of the country and the nation continues to break records for new cases and hospitalizations. Closer to home, more top aides and allies of the president have tested positive for the virus after a packed, indoor White House party last week where Trump falsely claimed victory in the election.

November 12       Infected                   Died

World               53,082,241           1,299,220

US                     10,873,936              248,585

Virginia               198,027                   3758

Augusta County          833                       10

The US numbers are scary:  165,000 new cases and 1,100 new deaths.  Virginia had 1,500 new cases and 17 more deaths. 

Another project I’ve been working on today is upgrading Central’s webserver at GoDaddy.  We had an issue several weeks ago and when I contacted GoDaddy’s technical support they commented that when the renewal is up we should ask them to move our website to a newer service.  So I called today to see about getting this done.  One thing I don’t think anyone else knows is that Central’s website fees have always been paid by Lynn and me.  I found out that to upgrade our service would cost about $400 for three years.  I think we’ll go ahead with this.  Today was a costly day for the Hills!  Fortunately, we’ve got the funds to handle this.

This was a busy day but we still worked in a way to get to Smiley’s tonight so Lynn could get a milkshake.  For a change, I didn’t get ice cream.  I got a Reading Soda which I had noticed that they had in their refrigerator.  Our family got a tour of the Reading Soda company when we were in Reading PA two summers ago.  It was very interesting to see how they bottle their soda and it is quite tasty!

November 13, 2020

Today was an all-around good day.  The weather returned to being great and it was a very productive day. 

I started out early at Central with QuickBooks.  I finished one more section of my manual and now only have two more to go.  I also paid a bill and still managed to get back home by 11:00.  By the time I got here, Jim had already arrived and was ready to work.

He and I (well, to be honest, mostly he) got the yard in much better shape.  We spent about four hours trimming shrubs, cutting grass, weed whacking, and basically cleaning up.  All of this was in preparation for the family get-together which takes place here tomorrow afternoon after Mrs. Hanger’s funeral.

Jim was very helpful as he always is.  He brought some of his outside tools which helped a lot.  We got everything trimmed up and then made a run to the dump.  The only thing left to do is to blow the sidewalk and back porch off which we’ll do in the morning.  The family is coming over to eat and it will all be outside.  The nice folks at Central are providing lots of food and several other friends are, too.

Several other things got taken care of today.  I had reworked Mrs. Hanger’s obituary to make its appearance nicer.  Lynn took it to Staples and got it printed and laminated for all the children and grandchildren.  And, I was able to take care of Central’s website upgrade at GoDaddy.  The CUMC website has been on GoDaddy’s server for years and years.  It needed to be moved to a newer platform.  The GoDaddy representative I worked with was able to get the migration at no cost to Central. 

Lynn has also been working on making pink masks today.  All the family women are going to wear them at tomorrow’s funeral to honor her mother.  Lynn posted her Mom’s obituary on Facebook and 69 people send her sympathy comments. 

Tonight was hamburger night at the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  Jim, Lynn, and I each enjoyed a burger and fries. 

With the most recent projections of Arizona and Georgia for Biden, and North Carolina and Alaska for Trump, ABC News has now projected winners in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

The final projected Electoral College tally stands at 306 for Biden, 232 for Trump.  So, after all, it was a landslide.  Of course, Trump still refuses to concede even though more court cases brought by his cronies about voter fraud were thrown out today.  And, Pennsylvania will not order a recount.  Trump is toast!  By the way, the electoral count this year is the same as it was in 2016 with Trump over Hillary Clinton.

The news is unchanged on the coronavirus front—cases continue to explode throughout the US.  Here are the numbers:

November 13       Infected                   Died

World               53,729,641           1,308,563

US                     11,061,796              249,973

Virginia               199,262                   3785

Augusta County          847                       10

Another 1,200 new cases in Virginia and 27 deaths.

This was from ABC news:  Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has announced new measures aimed at combatting the spread of coronavirus in the commonwealth. They include:

-All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.

-Expansion of mask mandate to all Virginians aged 5 and over, down from 10 years and older.

-Tightened retail requirements for physical distances, face coverings and cleaning, now enforceable as a Class One misdemeanor.

-On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery or tasting room.

Virginia is averaging 1,500 newly reported COVID-19 cases per day, up from a statewide peak of approximately 1,200 in May.

November 14, 2020

Today was the fourth and final time for Lynn and me—attending the funeral of one of our parents.  On the one hand, everything went well today.  The weather was fine for a mid-November day.  The funeral was well-attended by family.  Mrs. Hanger’s next-door-neighbor, Rev. Kenneth Price, did a superb job in leading the short graveside services.  Most everyone came back to our house where there was food and fellowship a-plenty. 

However, it would be wrong to call this a good day.  It was a sad day.  Mrs. Hanger lived a very long and good life but it is sad that Lynn and her siblings no longer have her in their lives.  All three of them visited her, almost every day, at The Legacy.  All were very close to her.  She was never a cranky old lady and they were never children who complained about taking care of their mother.  Her mind was sharp to the end.  She always treated me well and was the glue for her large and semi-diverse family.  So this day was not a beautiful one. 

Jim and I spent a couple of hours this morning getting the yard ready for the 20 or so who came to our house after the funeral.  He was super helpful the past two days.  I am so proud to have a son like him.

So many people helped out the Hanger family.  Cheryl Kent came to our house while we were at the gravesite and helped get the tons of food that the Central UMC Nurture Committee had provided.  They had sent lots of country ham biscuits, two fruit trays, three of Millie Brown’s delicious cakes plus her cookies including some eggless ones.  Central also sent ice tea.  Ann made lots of cupcakes.  Donna Morris made sugar cookies just like Mrs. Hanger used to make them.  Kay Carter brought individually wrapped salads.  Mary Gooden had left a veggie tray and egg salad sandwiches.  Unquestionably, we had a feast.

COVID-19 has made it hard to grieve.  We maintained our social distance and nearly everyone wore a mask the entire time both at the funeral and at our house.  Hugs were almost non-existent.  Such a shame!

With good help from everyone who was still here at the end, cleanup went quickly and it wasn’t long before Jim and Kay both reported making it home safely.  We are so blessed—blessed to have had Mrs. Hanger in our lives for so long and blessed to have such a great family of our own.

I’ve commented before that I spent more years with Mrs. Hanger in my life than with my own mother.  It was almost exactly 40 years ago that my Mom died.  Now Lynn will have that hole in her heart that I’ve had since 1980.  Yes, the hole seems to get smaller over time but it never goes away.  There’s just no way you can forget your mother. 

This evening I relaxed by watching the WVU – TCU football game which was on earlier and I had recorded.  When you watch a game that way, fast forwarding through commercials and halftime, it doesn’t take that long to see the game.  This game was fun to watch as WVU dominated, 24-6. 

During the game I penned a Congregational Prayer that I am scheduled to give tomorrow at Central.  This will be the first time I’ve attended a morning worship service since we resumed services last month.  I don’t plan on being there for the entire service—the prayer is after the sermon so I may just watch the live stream from the parking lot and come in when the sermon is over then leave.

The COVID-19 uptick is worrisome for our Thanksgiving plans.  Many national and state officials are encouraging people to stay home this year.  We’re committed to going to Athens and Butch has gone to a lot of trouble to prepare for our coming.  I’m hoping conditions improve over the next ten days but it doesn’t look like they’re headed that way.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 14       Infected                   Died

World               54,318,729                 1,318,

US                     11,226,038              251,256

Virginia               200,779                   3799

Augusta County          859                       10

I had a nice surprise in the mail today.  Sybille Jobin and Pastor Won apparently got together and decided to send me a gift for my work on the church’s books.  They sent me a $100 gift card.  Wow!  Lynn and I are so blessed to be surrounded by nice people.  She has received many, many sympathy cards in the mail.

November 15, 2020

Two days in a row I have worn a tie now.  This is the first time since the pandemic hit that I’ve had on dark socks and a tie.  I wore a suit at Mrs. Hanger’s funeral yesterday and today had agreed to do the Congregational Prayer at Central.  I was hesitant to be there for the whole service so I just showed up in time to do the prayer then left.  I had forewarned Pastor Won I’d be doing that.

There’s some doubt being cast now on the Ohio Thanksgiving.  First, we learned last night from Butch that the Ohio Governor has threatened to close all restaurants on Friday if their infection rate doesn’t improve.  No restaurant would kill our Thanksgiving plans, for sure.  Also, he told us that he would going to get tested so we’d know if he was healthy or not.  But then came the news this morning that cousin Kit was pulling out.  She said that one person at her dental office had tested positive and she was fearful of having to close the practice.  Of course, without the Danglers coming my sister won’t be there, either.

We’re not sure yet what to do and will likely wait a few days to make a final decision.  If we don’t do the Thanksgiving dinner this month perhaps we’ll do some other kind of celebration in Ohio in 2021.

Lynn and I went to Costco this afternoon just for a few items.  Then we stopped at Smiley’s for an afternoon treat.  Today was the last day we could redeem the $1 off coupons she and I had a slew of from back when we took the family to the corn maze adjacent to the ice cream store. 

After dinner we decided to watch a Netflix original movie called Jingle Jangle.  It was a musical fantasy.  The kids would like it.

This was the bad news on the ABC news site tonight:  The United States surpassed 11 million coronavirus cases Sunday, less than a week after it reached 10 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.  The U.S. leads the world in both cases and in deaths, with 246,006 fatalities, according to the data.  Saturday marked the eleventh consecutive day with over 100,000 COVID-19 cases recorded, health data showed. In the last week, the U.S. has reported a new weekly record of cases, with 989,825.  That means approximately one in every 331 Americans tested positive for COVID-19 this week.  The U.S. case number crossed the 10 million mark on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins.  The country is currently averaging over 141,000 new coronavirus cases every day, which was a 38% jump in averages from the last week.  Since Nov. 1, the U.S. has reported over 1.7 million new cases.  The U.S. is currently averaging over 1,000 reported COVID-19 deaths per day, with 7,708 American deaths recorded this week, and 14,634 deaths in the last two weeks.

Here are the numbers from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

November 15       Infected                   Died

World               54,804,194           1,324,025

US                     11,365,052              251,832

Virginia               201,960                   3800

Augusta County          861                       10

Virginia had over 1,100 new cases but only one additional death.  Not sure those figures are correct.

The weather has returned to more typical November weather, unfortunately.  Today was rainy for a while with lots of wind which made it seem colder than the 60o thermometer reading.  This coming week is forecast to be dry but not nearly as warm as last week.  

November 16, 2020

ABC had some good news today about another COVID-19 vaccine:  In another promising medical development, the biotechnology company Moderna has announced its COVID-19 vaccine could be up to 94.5% effective.  This puts them roughly on track along with Pfizer for possible limited authorization by the FDA as soon as December. Moderna is expected to have 20 million doses to go along with Pfizer’s 50 million for global distribution before more can be made in 2021.  Moderna also announced promising data Monday about how the vaccine can be shipped and stored. According to the company, the vaccine can safely be stored for up to six months in a normal freezer, and up to 30 days in a normal refrigerator.  Pfizer’s vaccine must be kept at around -94 degrees Fahrenheit — far colder than a typical freezer can accommodate. Because of these temperature requirements, the company will ship vaccine doses in special temperature-controlled thermal boxes packed with dry ice.

The recent announcements about vaccines just add another layer of difficulty in making a decision about having Thanksgiving in Ohio.  It would be a shame if we all went and some got COVID-19 with an effective vaccine just a couple of months away.  Butch exchanged several chats today with Lynn.  He said he could back out from the dinner reservations he has made at Ohio University Inn as late as next Monday at no cost to him.  The Ohio Governor is supposed to make an announcement this Friday as to whether he’ll institute more bans on restaurants.  So we’ll likely wait until his announcement to decide.  Certainly, if the Ohio U restaurant is not allowed to be open then our plans will be canceled.  But even if they are allowed to continue, Lynn and I are starting to have some doubts about going, thinking that a postponement might be in order.  At any rate, we’ll wait until Friday to decide.

I spent nearly the entire day at Central today.  I started out by doing my twice-monthly job of counting the weekly deposit along with Sam Richardson.  After we finished it, I gave Savannah Murrin a quick lesson in making QuickBooks deposits by letting her do this week’s.  By the time I had paid a few bills, I had to hustle home to pick up the truck for Food Pantry delivery. 

I picked up the food from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and delivered it to Central.  Though the load was so large it took two trucks to get it all, it didn’t take that long to get the trucks unloaded.  So I headed back to the Treasurer’s office to figure out how to pay the federal and state monthly taxes which were due today.

As I figured out how to pay these, I took screen shots at every step, then wrote the directions in my manual.  Likewise, I did the same for what are known as other Payroll Liabilities such as Health/Dental Insurance for the Pastor.  It took an enormously long time to get all of this done.  For example, just on the federal tax section alone I took fifteen screen shots.  I left Central after 5:00 which didn’t please Lynn at all because I had promised to pick up pizza for us in Penn Laird. 

Indeed, I did get the pizza and got home at 6:30 but she had already fixed herself something else to eat and was very displeased with me.  This has happened to us so often:  I underestimate how long it will take me to complete a task at work, then come home much later than I had told her.  By the time I get home, she is understandably “hangry.”  I can’t begin to write how many times this has happened to us.  I am not blaming her; I am at fault for not postponing my work until the next day.  I just keep thinking “Five more minutes and I’ll be done” over and over again.

The entire job of being church treasurer takes more time than I thought it would, especially now that I’m writing the how-to manual for future bookkeepers.  There are a few parts that I still need more understanding of.

COVID-19 has not let up.  ABC reports that nearly 70,000 people are currently hospitalized due to complications with COVID-19 as intensive care units around the country run out of space and supplies. The number of hospitalizations shows no signs of slowing down after the seven-day average of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 23%, according to an ABC News analysis of the trends across 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., using data from the COVID Tracking Project. The U.S. is now averaging almost 145,000 new cases a day — nearly four times the daily average from just two months ago. In the last seven days, the average number of new COVID-19 cases has increased by 35%.  \

Here are today’s numbers from worldometers.info and the Virginia Department of Health:

November 16       Infected                   Died

World               55,335,013           1,331,698

US                     11,533,598              252,632

Virginia               204,637                   3806

Augusta County          870                       10

The Virginia Department of Health had this note on its website:  The 2,677 case count reported on Monday, November 16 is due to a catch-up from the VDH data system being down for upgrades for a few hours over the weekend. 

November 17, 2020

The temperature today was in the 40’s and low 50’s but the wind was awful so it felt like the 30’s.  Weather.com says it is now 38o but feels like 32o.  Brrrr!  I hate to be cold. 

I only spent one hour at Central today after spending all day yesterday.  I was able to print and hole punch my manual.  It ended up being 58 pages long.  I also paid a few bills. 

Today was errand day.  I ran an errand for Lynn on my way to Central.  Then, when I got back, I went to John Bauman’s house and dropped off some things that had been given to me by Bill Bushman to deliver to him.  I went to the dump and got rid of about 15 bags of leaves which I had taken from Central yesterday.  Then Lynn and I went to Dollar Tree in Staunton before getting back in time for Freddie’s bus.

Poor Freddie—it was so cold outside and he again wore shorts.  I don’t know how his little legs can stay warm on such a cold day.  Lynn worked with him a little on reading in our kitchen and basement but he still insisted on going outside to play in the cold.  It took Ann a while to get here but we enjoyed his company.

There is a story in the Staunton Newspaper today about a COVID-19 outbreak at a Staunton rehabilitation center.  Here is what the paper had to say: the rising tide of COVID-19 is becoming deadly for Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation in Staunton. The facility has 117 certified beds and 106 patients have COVID-19, leaving the facility — and its residents — wading through the infection.   The Virginia Department of Health’s long-term care task force currently states that there are 106 active COVID-19 cases and eight deaths. However, the COVID-19 related data through VDH doesn’t have a specific date that new COVID-19 cases and deaths have occurred.

That rehab center was next door to The Legacy where Lynn’s Mom lived for several years. 

The Staunton paper reported that the number of cases in Augusta County Public Schools just hit a record high. There were 16 cases in Augusta County Public Schools between November 9-13. It’s the second week in a row that the division set a record after having 15 cases the previous week.

Since students returned to school in a hybrid format Sept. 1, Augusta County has had a total of 78 cases. The 31 in the past two weeks represents 39.7% of the total cases this school year.  For the schools that our grandchildren go to, Fort Defiance High School has had 6 student and one faculty case thus far this year; Stewart Middle has had 3 student cases; Clymore Elementary has had 1 student and 1 faculty positive case thus far this school year.

The paper also reported that COVID cases are on the rise again locally, even as testing is down.  With 277 new cases reported in November, the area is heading for a record-breaking month of over 500 cases of the novel coronavirus.  And testing is down: if the current area rate holds, there will be 1,600 fewer tests in November than October.  More cases and less testing means a higher positivity rate. The 6.2% positivity rate in the area in November is a full third higher than last month.  The paper reported that eleven Augusta County communities have a positivity rate higher than the state’s most recent rate of 8.2%.   One of those was Fort Defiance.

The paper also hinted that the Augusta Health hospital was experiencing an outbreak of COVID though they have been tight-lipped about this. 

ABC news tonight said that Pfizer announced that as soon as the FDA gives them emergency authorization people will have their vaccine within hours.  Cases are on the rise in every state; November is already the worst month since the pandemic began.  Hospitalizations are rising in 49 of the 50 states.  Over 73,000 are now hospitalized with COVID-19.

I wonder what percentage of my 325 pages of blog that I’ve written since April 20 have been devoted to news about COVID and/or Trump.  I’ll bet it’s near 90%.  Actually, there has been little news of importance about anything else in the past nine months. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

November 17       Infected                   Died

World               55,913,754           1,342,613

US                     11,680,102              254,085

Virginia               206,762                  3,835

Augusta County          914                       10

Wow, Augusta County’s one day total increased by 44.  The VDH site reported that there were currently 35 Augusta County residents hospitalized with COVID-19.  Staunton has 22 currently hospitalized and has had 11 deaths.  Of course, Rockingham County and Harrisonburg are much worse.  Together they have had over 5,000 positive cases and 67 deaths.

Virginia’s daily total increased by over 2,000.  That’s the most I can recall in all the time I’ve been writing this. 

November 18, 2020

Today was a busy and productive day for me.  Lynn and I left early for Harrisonburg this morning so we could shop at Costco during the Senior Hour.  We had several things to get including an iPad for Central UMC.  We were able to get everything on our list including hard-to-get Chlorox wipes. 

As soon as we got back, I put on long underwear and an extra sweatshirt because I spent the next four hours outside on a very, very cold day.  The temperature was initially in the high 30’s and eventually got into the low 40’s.  But, to be honest, I didn’t get cold because the wind wasn’t blowing and the sun was brightly shining despite the cold temps.  I worked with four other Central men on a mission project at a house in Verona.  The lady there, Janet Nuckoles’ sister-in-law, had a storage shed that was leaking because it badly needed a new roof.  We started at 10:00 and by 2:00 the shed had a new shingled roof.  The other men were much more skilled than I, of course, but I managed to pitch in and help.  I was tired this evening after having done physical labor for so long which I wasn’t used to. 

When I got home I posted some pictures of our work on the Central website then headed to CUMC to do a few small jobs including delivering the iPad and disinfectant wipes.  I had done the Congregational Prayer at Sunday’s service which was live-streamed, but the audio quality on the stream was terrible.  Supposedly this was because an old iPad was used for the stream and that’s why the church wanted a new one.  In the meantime, Pastor Won asked me if I would re-record the prayer which I did this afternoon.

Lynn cooked a really nice chicken casserole tonight for dinner.  She had found a new recipe that included chicken breasts, black olives, cheese, green peppers, sour cream, and corn tortillas.  Yum!

Tonight was our weekly Zoom meeting but no one joined us.  I guess they all had busy evenings.

I wish I had different news about COVID-19 but the news is more of the same.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 18       Infected                   Died

World               56,544,327           1,353,906

US                     11,869,528              256,206

Virginia               208,833                  3,860

Augusta County          938                       11

There were significant changes to every statistic above.  Virginia saw more than 2,000 new cases in one day and 25 new deaths.  Augusta County had an increase of 24 cases and one death.  The US saw a whopping 180,000 new cases and more than 2,000 new deaths.  Boy are we heading in the wrong direction!

Last night we started watching a new Netflix series called Emily in Paris.  It was recommended to us by Sandy Porterfield.  We watched five episodes last night and will likely watch a couple more this evening.

November 19, 2020

We fell asleep before watching more episodes of Emily in Paris last night.  As I’ve gotten older, the more sleep I seem to need each night.  We go to bed usually by 9:00 PM and don’t get up until around 6:00 AM.  Part of that time is spent watching the news—usually from 5:00 – 6:00 AM.

I had very little on my schedule for today.  Ann asked a favor if I could take Henry to the neighboring farm where he sometimes works so I did that first thing this morning.  I believe he was going to work there all day.  It was another cold day, windier than yesterday, so I hope he was able to stay warm.

Lynn, on the other hand, had a busy day.  Her two Cheryl friends came over this morning and the three of them sat out on the back porch in 30o-40o weather for two hours.  I guess they were bundled up well.  She and Cheryl Kent then did a few craft things inside before lunch.  Then she and I took a two mile walk.  Though the temperature outside was higher than it was yesterday, I still got colder today because there was a steady cold wind.

Her foot is just about healed now, I suppose.  After walking with me she went into Staunton and walked again with her friend Pat Collins.  I stayed here so I’d be here when Freddie’s bus arrived though Josh was here on time for it.

Before she went in to walk, Robin and Ronnie Brown stopped by to bring her a flower and card in sympathy for her mother.  The four of us sat on the pergola and talked for a little while.  We have gotten much more use out of the pergola than I would ever have imagined, mostly, of course, because of COVID-19 and not wanting to have people inside.  I’m going to see if I can name all of the people who have swung with us since it was built in July:  Ann’s and Kay’s families, Jim, Bee and Janet Myers, Cheryl Kent, Cheryl Wright, Lynn’s friend Carol Mitchell and her husband Shawn, Tom and Connie Davis, John and Ginny Bauman, Bill and Martha Bushman, Donna Morris, Dave and Terri Grembi, Mary Gooden, Pat Collins, my brother Butch, Robin and Ronnie Brown.

Lynn’s Cricut machine is an older model and couldn’t do some of the things she wanted to be able to do so I convinced her we should order a newer model.  It arrived today.  I’m sure she will put it to full use.  This one can even engrave. 

The weather tomorrow is supposed to be the best day in quite a while.  I’ll need to do some outside work.  Plus, Pastor Won has a few chores he wants me to do on QuickBooks so I’ll probably spend some time at CUMC.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 19       Infected                   Died

World               57,191,500           1,364,481

US                     12,048,552              258,085

Virginia               210,787                  3,896

Augusta County          954                       11

Augusta County has 39 people currently hospitalized with coronavirus.  That seems like a lot.  Virginia had almost 2,000 new cases and 36 new deaths.

Weighing heavy on our minds today is the decision about Thanksgiving.  We’re going to make the final decision tomorrow as to whether we’ll go to Ohio next week or not.  There’s a lot of pressure from state and national authorities to stay home this Thanksgiving.  The CDC is pushing hard for Americans to stay home.  They forecast another 46,000 could die by December 12 at the current rate.

Dr. Fauci spoke today from the White House.  He said the vaccines will be safe.  The Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine is becoming the third one nearly ready for distribution.  But for many it will be too little, too late; there are nearly 80,000 people currently hospitalized. 

Where is Donald Trump with all this resurgence of COVID-19?  He’s nowhere to be found.  He is doing absolutely nothing.  One Facebook post said it would have been nice if he had spent as much energy on stopping coronavirus as he has on trying to undercover voter fraud.

One thing I accomplished today was enrolling Lynn and me in new Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plans for 2021.  The government has a very useful website at medicare.gov which allows you to consider all of the plans available to you.  You enter the prescriptions you are currently taking and where you want to get these and it will present you with many options for plans.  Sorting these by price, we chose the cheapest ones which should save us lots of money next year.   I did this last year for my own prescriptions and was able to latch onto a good plan for this year but my current plan now is not the cheapest one for 2021.  We made a big mistake by not reviewing Lynn’s last year.  She had stayed with Humana for years and its premium had tripled, unnoticed by us until it was too late.  When you enroll in a Part D plan you do so before mid-December for the following year then you must stay with that plan for the full year.

November 20, 2020

Sadly, we pulled the plug on our Thanksgiving trip today.  I called Butch and informed him that we just didn’t think it was a good idea to come to Ohio.  He had made so many plans for this occasion but the facts were overwhelming to stay put.  Not only would it have been hypocritical of us to have ignored the scientific and health community, 100% of which have said to stay home this Thanksgiving, but truly we could be putting ourselves or others in jeopardy.  With the vaccine on the horizon, we elected to cancel our reservations at the Ohio University Inn.  I am disappointed, to say the least, because I’ve loved our family get-togethers over the years.  I told Butch that we were postponing, not canceling, our trip to Athens.  Once we’re all vaccinated let’s hope that we can have a big family gathering there.

This just comes at a bad time for him, for sure.  Ann has been gone for two months now.  His birthday is tomorrow and their anniversary is on Monday so a Thanksgiving family dinner would have given him something positive to think about.  Like so many other families, we’re just going to have to put our emotions on the back burner for a while and give way to science.

Today was a beautiful November day in the Shenandoah Valley with temperatures reaching the low 70’s and plenty of sunshine.  Lynn and I managed to get in a walk this afternoon; she earlier had walked with her friend Pat.  I did something I’ve never before done this early in the year—put our Christmas lights on the outside bushes.  The weather was so good that it made sense to do it now instead of waiting on cold weather to get here.

I also spend some time at Central this morning and got some good work done on QuickBooks.  Then I came home and had another treat—Lynn cut my hair.  We had borrowed the Gutshall’s clippers.  Afterwards I loaded up our trash in the truck and we took their clippers back as we picked up their garbage.  Lynn went with me; this gave us a chance to check on Gus, Freddie, and Betsy, who were doing fine by themselves.

Today is Friday which meant tonight’s supper was our new-tradition hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  They were delicious, as usual.  For dessert, I had some tasty apple turnovers that Cheryl Kent had given to Lynn this morning.  I am so lucky!

Lynn unpacked her new Cricut machine today and has already put it to good use.  She did some craft work for Cheryl Kent.  The machine is a neat invention; you design your project on the iMac which connects to the Cricut which then cuts the material in the design you’ve created.  It’s like miniature robotics.

We got several more sessions of Emily in Paris viewed last night and may finish it tonight.  I’d give it a B rating; not the best but not the worst show we’ve seen this long pandemic season.

ABC reported that there were 186,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.  Half of all states in the US are reporting medical staff shortages. 

On the positive side, Pfizer submitted its request to the FDA for emergency use authorization but the FDA isn’t set to meet until December 10.  Why do they have to wait so long?  Make no sense to me.  The US has stockpiled 40 million vials of Pfizer’s vaccine ready to be shipped out once the authorization is given. 

Georgia certified its election results today, making it official that Biden is the winner.  Yet Trump again today told the press he had won the election.  Trump even invited Republican leaders of the Michigan legislature to meet with him, hoping that he could somehow get the Michigan voter results thrown out and have the Republican legislature appoint its electors.  The man is crazy!

The Central UMC Food Pantry has lately been handing out much more food than previously.  This coming Monday, for example, three of us will be picking up food in pickup trucks.  Prior to the pandemic, one truck was all that was necessary.  The load this week is around 2,500 pounds.  But the number of people who now rely on the Food Pantry has shot up a lot recently.  Before last month, only once per week was food distributed, on Wednesdays.  Now it is handed out on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

November 20       Infected                   Died

World               57,875,958           1,376,624

US                     12,261,458              260,187

Virginia               213,313                  3,912

Augusta County          985                       11

The worldometers.info site reports that the US had over 212,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  That’s even higher than what ABC news said.  There were over 2,000 new deaths in the US, too.  Virginia had more than 2,500 new cases.  Is it any wonder that we’re staying home at Thanksgiving? 

November 21, 2020

Today is Butch’s 73rd birthday.  Happy Birthday, brother.  I called him this afternoon and apologized again for bailing on his Thanksgiving plans.  Sure hope we can visit him en masse this spring.

I set another timing record today.  Never before have I gotten down our Christmas decorations this early in the year.  But the weather was superb again today and it was much easier to get them down without battling a cold garage.  Truth be told, I carried down all the Christmas wrapping paper, bows, tissue paper, tree decorations, tree stand, outside tree that Jim made from a wooden pallet, stockings, stocking holders, Christmas cards, and a few other incidentals—about twenty boxes.  These twenty boxes represent approximately 25% of the number of boxes of Christmas decorations that reside above our garage. 

This year Christmas will be so different…no family party (which would have involved at least ten more of the boxes), little inside decorations since no one will be visiting us during the season, and maybe not even an opportunity for family to open presents around the tree.  For most of the season, it will just be Lynn and me.  We’ll see no Christmas shows at the Barter Theatre.  Probably the only Christmas shows we’ll see will be Hallmark TV shows. 

Thanks goodness Lynn and I get along well.  I can’t imagine how tough it would be to have to live through this pandemic with your main daily contact not being someone you care deeply about.  I know there are plenty of people who are in this situation and I feel for them.

Lynn and I are best friends, for sure.  Today she wanted to go to three different Dollar Tree stores and Michael’s in Waynesboro.  I volunteered to be her chauffer.  Like a good chauffer, I stayed in the car the entire time.  I had a marvelous time.

When we got back we took a walk in the neighborhood.  It would have been sinful to have not taken advantage of this beautiful weather.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a good bit colder.

She worked with her new Cricut machine today and turned out two items that look very professionally done.  Two of her former colleagues at Fort Defiance High School lost their spouses during this past year and the retired teacher group of which she is part wanted to provide a basket of presents for each of them.  She made a mug for one with the FDHS Indian emblem on it and a lettered a large bucket for the other one, a former coach.  Lynn is so talented!

After dinner tonight we decided to enjoy the good weather by going to Smiley’s.  As always, the ice cream was great.

I’m not sure what entertainment Lynn and I will find on Netflix tonight; we finished the Emily in Paris season last night. 

Life is just not very exciting in this COVID-19 era.  I play a LOT of Whirly Word, Sudoku, and Solitaire.  Boy, I will be glad when we can go out to eat again, travel wherever we want to, have friends and family over, go to movies and shows, yell at football games, and watch our grandchildren play sports.  All of that has been missing from our lives for over nine months.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 21       Infected                   Died

World               58,466,183           1,385,708

US                     12,437,869              261,751

Virginia               215,679                  3,938

Augusta County       1,018                       11

Augusta County has 39 currently hospitalized with COVID-19.  In the past 24 hours, 33 more local residents have been diagnosed with it, putting the total over 1,000.  Virginia had over 2,300 new cases in the past 24 hours with 26 new deaths.

November 22, 2020

I discovered something interesting this morning—I no longer have a “worry window.”  I’ll bet you there are lots of Dads who have a worry window—the window from which you can look down the road to see when your teenagers are coming home when they’re out.  My “worry window” was always the one in the living room which faced toward Fort Defiance High School.  From it, I spent many a time looking down the road while waiting on one of the kids (or even Lynn on a snowy evening) to return home after an evening out.  From that window I could see almost a mile and would follow all approaching headlights hoping the next one would be one of our cars. 

How did I lose that window?  Well, I didn’t, I just lost the view.  A tree which separates our property from neighbor Danny Link’s has grown much higher and now its branches block the view.  Plus, Danny built a large storage building which further blocks that view.  It had been years since I went to that window intending to see if a car was approaching.  I can still do this from the kitchen; I just hadn’t noticed that my view from the “worry window” was no longer available.

I went there hoping to see the newspaper man this morning.  Last week I noticed that he approached from the FDHS area.  Today Lynn wanted our newspaper and it hadn’t arrived.  I went outside to the box four times with no luck so I thought I’d return to the window to see all approaching cars.

It would have been a futile effort anyway; the paper never did come.  We used to get three newspapers each day:  the Staunton News Leader, the Waynesboro News Virginian , and the Harrisonburg Daily News Record.  The Staunton paper had all the local news in it.  The Waynesboro paper had the best coverage of high school athletics and the DNR had the best coverage of the Rockingham County School system where Lynn and I both worked.  Over time we dropped the Waynesboro paper then the News Leader tripled its price, was purchased by an out-of-town firm and doesn’t even get printed in Staunton any more.  Plus, it became such a small paper that you could read it in two minutes.  So we dropped it though we kept the Sunday only paper plus online access.  We kept the Sunday paper because we kept the DNR subscription because it didn’t have a big price increase but it is a Monday – Saturday paper.  Plus, this year we were informed that no longer would it be delivered in the morning but instead would be mailed to us with same day service.  So we do get the paper but not until early afternoon.  From three papers delivered to us each day we now get only one which is delivered via US mail except for Sundays when we are supposed to get a Sunday Staunton paper.  Not today!

Today was another boring Sunday.  I did my usual playing piano for Sunday School via Zoom.  And we did have a little fun when Jim, Faron, and Coen made a Facetime call to us this morning.

Lynn and I did manage a short walk this afternoon.  The weather was in the 50’s, not as nice as it has been but at least it was dry and not too windy.  Interestingly, as we headed out I noticed the Gutshall’s car at Don Link’s former house.  Don’s daughter Deborah Sheffer had told us they were going to put his house on the market and we told them Ann and Josh would probably want to have a look at it.  It turns out that they liked the house fine though I’m not sure if they will make an offer on it or not.  It is not ready for the market yet.

The news is unchanged on the coronavirus front.  Cases are up in all 50 states.  Here are the numbers:

November 22       Infected                   Died

World               58,965,650           1,393,190

US                     12,584,501              262,691

Virginia               217,796                  3,938

Augusta County       1,036                       11

The FDA did approve regeneron, the drug that Donald Trump took, for emergency authorization today.  And reports are that Pfizer will be able to treat patients on December 11, given approval of their vaccine by the FDA on December 10.

Today a Pennsylvania judge tossed out a case where the Trump’s lawyers tried to invalidate the votes of millions of Pennsylvania voters.  The judge also blistered the attorneys for bringing a baseless case to the court.  CNN said this was essentially the last major case seeking to throw out or block enough votes that could swing a key state in Trump’s favor, and the judge’s decision on Saturday is at least the 30th loss or withdrawal of a case from the Trump campaign and its allies since Election Day. There have only been two wins in court for Republicans, about very small numbers of votes.

November 23, 2020

COVID-19 hit a little closer home today.  The Jimenez family is one that Lynn has been close to for years.  She tutored Nathan and Emily as part of the Migrant Education Program several years ago.  Then she got to know their parents, Elizabeth and Gilberto.  We have been somewhat surrogate grandparents to Emily and Nathan for the past couple of years; they have been to our house often.  Emily is the same age as Betsy so the two of them have been friends.  Today Elizabeth left a message on Lynn’s phone that her husband Gilberto had been diagnosed with coronavirus and was in the UVA hospital.  She told Lynn that he initially tested negative several days ago but his symptoms kept getting worse so today she took him to be re-tested and it came back positive.  The doctors told her they would like to keep him at UVA for a few days and are giving him oxygen now.  He is a young, fit man around 40 years old so I hope he’ll make a full and speedy recovery.

Today was another CUMC day for me as I did multiple jobs associated with the church.  First, I counted and made the weekly bank deposit.  Sam Richardson and I always do the 3rd and 4th Sunday counts each month.  Actually, this month we’ll do the 5th Sunday count as well.  When that was over my duties returned to being bookkeeper/teacher as I helped Savannah record the deposit in QuickBooks and write one check, also.  I also set up the payroll for November 30.  Then I returned home for lunch before heading to Verona to be one of three pickup truck drivers to haul the CUMC Food Pantry’s order to church and help unload it.

My CUMC work wasn’t over; I got e-mail notice that GoDaddy had started the progress of migrating the Church’s website to a new server as I had ordered ten days ago.  There were some things I was supposed to do during this process which I didn’t understand so I called their tech support, which has always been helpful.  The guy I talked with was very polite and said it would take about an hour to 90 minutes for them to shut down the old service which had to be done before they could start it on the new server.  The files had all been copied so he told me to call back after an hour or so.  In the meantime, he told me I could tell if the shut-down process on the old server was done by seeing if I could rename the server to its original name, centralumcstaunton.org from the new name GoDaddy had temporarily given it, newcentralumcstaunton.org.  Well, for four hours I unsuccessfully tried to do this renaming task.  I called tech support again and this time I was told it might take 24 hours for the process to complete.  Once the renaming has taken place there were several more steps to be done in this migration which tech support was supposed to help with.  In the meantime, our website is down.

ABC news reported tonight that the General Services Administration has informed the Biden camp that he has been determined to be the apparent winner of the election.  The GSA’s head, a Trump political appointee, had previously blocked this process from starting.  Hopefully, this will signal the end to the Trump presidency.  His lawyers have now lost or vacated 30 court cases where they tried to claim voter fraud.  He’s toast!  But has he conceded?  Of course not.  What has he done—played golf six times since the election.  He has ignored the pandemic and everything else except his hopeless claims of voter fraud. 

The Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine has become the third promising one near ready for distribution.  It has been shown to be up to 90% effective and is cheap, easy to manufacture.  It doesn’t need to be stored in special environments. 

The Staunton Newsleader reported that the COVID-19 positivity rate for Augusta County was more than twice the state average.  The County rate was 20% compared to the state rate of 8.1%.  In other words, one out of every five county residents who tested had a positive test.

Here are today’s statistics:

November 23       Infected                   Died

World               59,470,584           1,401,380

US                     12,752,174              263,578

Virginia               221,038                  3,942

Augusta County       1,059                       11

Virginia’s Department of Health reported that the reason they reported more than 3,000 new cases today was due to a catch-up of some data that hadn’t been entered over the weekend.

It has been a while since I printed a reminder of how this virus has spread by referring back to the statistics when I started this on April 20:

April 20                Infected                   Died

World2,422,286              165,924

US                          770,564                41,114

Virginia                     8,990                     300

Augusta County22                         0

Isn’t that eye-opening?  Augusta County now has 50 times as many infected as it did seven months ago.

I wrote on that first day that I was like a reporter writing about a baseball game that had already begun but that the issue was that I didn’t know what inning the game was in.  I’m hoping that we’re in the 7th or 8th inning now with vaccines about to be released.  It will still take months before enough people can get vaccinated to really cause this pandemic to be under control.  We’re no where near controlling it today.

I can understand why some old people move to Florida.  I never liked the cold but now I particularly despise it.  I just hate the feeling of being chilly.  Even though it wasn’t unbearably cold outside tonight (around 40o and dropping), I sat in the kitchen in front of our gas insert with the flame roaring behind me.  I haven’t turned the oil furnace on yet; we’re still relying 100% upon our heat pump to heat the house.  It still gets the house to 70o but hot air heat just doesn’t feel as warm as hot water heat does.  I love having Lynn’s 98.6o next to me when I get in bed.

November 24, 2020

I forgot to write yesterday about a neat experience I had.  When I taught at Bridgewater College, I posted approximately 50 YouTube screencasts so my students could review how to do certain things both in the fields of educational technology and math education.  When I retired, I had no reason to take them down so they are now linked from my website.  Indeed, many are still viewed but not just by Bridgewater College students.  One of them has had over 180,000 views.  It shows teachers who grade using Excel how to have the letter grade (A, B, C, etc.) automatically assigned by Excel from the numeric average.  Two days ago I had a comment on that website thanking me for posting this.  But later the same person said he had a problem he couldn’t figure out related to it.  I saw the comment and asked him to e-mail me his spreadsheet so I could see what the issue was.  He did and I discovered that this teacher wanted to convert both ways—numeric averages to letter grades but also letter grades to numeric values.  He wanted to assign A+ the value 5, A the value 4, B to 3, etc.  I figured out the solution to his issue and sent it back to him and received his thanks again.  It turns out that he’s a teacher in India!  That made my day.

The US had its fourteenth straight day of record hospitalizations due to COVID-19 yesterday.  ABC news said tonight that there have been 170,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.  There are more than 85,000 people currently hospitalized.  Some people waited as much as five hours for test results. 

Apparently, a good percentage of Americans aren’t following the unilateral recommendations to not have a large family Thanksgiving gathering.  The airports had the busiest day today since the pandemic started.  So many families are going to have a large family dinner which could easily develop into a super-spreader event.  Not the Hill family—our Thanksgiving has been canceled and our annual Christmas party isn’t even being planned this year.

I spent about six hours outside today with the high temperature of the day 41o.  The four of us from Central who put the roof on the storage shed for the sister-in-law of our Church custodian were back at it today, putting a roof on her second shed.  We started at 10:00 and finished at 2:00.  I was well dressed for the cold but frankly I never was uncomfortable.  The sun was shining and there was no wind.  Plus, I’ve discovered that the face mask (which I wore 100% of the time) helps keep your face warm.  The work was tiring, though, and I’m feeling sore tonight. 

After working on that re-roofing project, I came home and called GoDaddy again because our website migration was still not finished.  It supposedly was finished near 3:00 today after a long phone call with their tech support.  Yet I spent another hour on the phone tonight with a second the support person because our website still isn’t being presented properly by GoDaddy and the backups they are supposed to be making for us are failing.  I was told that our issue had been assigned a high priority and transferred to a security team to resolve.  Supposedly I’ll get an e-mail later tonight that they’ve fixed all the issues.  Based on my experience this afternoon and evening, I’ll be surprised if that happens.

Freddie rode the bus here as he always does on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  He loves to play outside so I stayed outside with him for what turned out to be a lot longer than I had planned.  Ann was very, very late coming home from Broadway High School; Josh ended up picking up Freddie up around 5:30.  Freddie spent the first two hours here outside with me.  We played soccer and football.  I am very sore from our touch football game!  He played Wii in the basement the last half hour.

My weight is up about five pounds since mid-pandemic.  At dinner time I am just so hungry I can’t say no.  Plus, I haven’t walked much compared to what we did mid-sunmer.

Here are today’s high numbers:

November 24       Infected                   Died

World               60,073,345           1,413,686

US                     12,945,905              265,828

Virginia               223,582                  3,979

Augusta County       1,072                       11

Virginia’s cases increased by 2,500 since yesterday; there were 37 new deaths.  Scary!

November 25, 2020

The CUMC website is finally back up and working well now.  The tech support at GoDaddy fixed the issues we had the previous two days so now it is visible to everyone and being both protected from viruses and hackers and backed up regularly by GoDaddy.

Lynn and I were designated shoppers today.  We went to Costco during senior hour and bought items for ourselves, Ann, Kay Carter, and Cheryl Wright.  We were successful in getting everything on our list.  We stopped by the house then went to Staunton, stopping at Cheryl Kent’s, Kay Carter’s, and Kroger.  So we spent all morning shopping but got everything we intended.

We walked in the afternoon.  The temperature was in the 50’s but there was a cold wind.  It felt good to walk, though.

Both of us have been very well during this pandemic.  Of course, we’re rarely around other people now so we haven’t caught colds, stomach bugs, the flu, etc.  I hope this continues until we can get vaccinated.  I can make it through a cold or stomach bug but I’m not so sure about COVID-19.

I’m back to worrying about one of our electrical circuits—the one that connects to the outside outlet where our Christmas lights are plugged in.  Tonight, the circuit was down just like it did before Butch came and replaced the breaker on that circuit.  Actually, only part of the circuit goes down—the outside outlet, porch, and outside light.  There’s a kitchen outlet on the same circuit but it doesn’t lose power.  There isn’t a short on that circuit; at least the breaker doesn’t trip.  It’s as if a connecting wire somewhere on that circuit loses connection.  Tonight I flipped the breaker on and off several times and power was restored.  Then it went out again and is still out.  Very strange.

The weather forecast for tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, is excellent with highs in the upper 60’s in the afternoon.  So Ann’s family is coming over but we’re having our Thanksgiving dinner outside. 

Today was the 15th consecutive day of record hospitalizations due to COVID-19.  Despite the pleadings of Dr. Fauci and many other medical experts, America seems hell bent on having big Thanksgiving celebrations.  Here are today’s numbers:

November 25       Infected                   Died

World               60,715,719           1,426,734

US                     13,137,962              268,219

Virginia               226,300                  4,008

Augusta County       1,091                       11

Virginia has 2,800 new cases in just one day and 29 more deaths.  I wish the news were better.  It just gets worse every night I write this.  By the time the vaccines get here most everyone will have had this thing….

November 26, 2020

Today is Thanksgiving Day.  We’re thankful for our health, wealth, and family but wish we could gather together.  Two years ago, we were in Altoona with fifteen of us doing a Turkey Trot in 4o weather.  Today it was almost 70o here in Virginia.

Lynn and I were up before 6:00.  Actually, I was watching a basketball game that had been recorded as WVU won its first game of the season against South Dakota State but we both got up, ate breakfast, and were at Dollar General in Verona at 7:00 AM when they opened. DG had its family pajamas on sale and we needed some for Jim’s boys.  She had bought some for them earlier at Kohl’s but they were too big.  We were successful with our early morning outing.

Before 7:30 AM she had the turkey cooking and I had the potatoes peeled for the mashed potatoes.  We didn’t eat until 3:00 so we had all day basically to get the food ready that we were preparing:  turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, and green beans.  Ann brought sweet potatoes and dressing.  We had apple pie which had been provided for us by our Edward Jones consultant, Justin Rexrode.  Our table looked good with the flower arrangement Butch had sent.

The day was so beautiful!  Lynn and I took a 2.8 mile walk on Leaport Road and to Mount Pisgah and back.  Lynn also watched a Hallmark movie this morning, which goes to show how pressure-less this Thanksgiving was.  Everything was ready hours before Ann’s family got here so we weren’t rushed at all.

It was a superb Thanksgiving dinner.  Everything tasted great and the weather was so nice outside.  Shortly afterwards we had a family Zoom with everyone joining in.  Although we couldn’t be together in person, it was nice to be able to get together via Zoom.

I got to watch a second WVU basketball game today—they played VCU in the second round of the tournament they played in at South Dakota.  The Mountaineers are currently ranked 15th in the country and are 2-0 after the win today over VCU.  They still can’t shoot well but they frequently rebound their own misses until they finally get it in.  They aren’t easy to watch because of their poor shooting but they clearly have a lot of defensive and rebounding talent on the team.  They are the type of team that can beat anyone on a good shooting night but lose to a nobody on the next.

With today being Thanksgiving, I am feeling very thankful this evening for many things.  Here are four F words I’m thankful for:  Food—I know that many people are hungry tonight.  Food Banks are busier than ever.  Yet I have been blessed with great food, especially today.  Fortune—I am lucky to have all the money I need.  Lynn and I are at a time of our lives when it appears that we have enough money to last us the rest of our days unless something really bizarre happens.  Faith—I know that what I have wasn’t earned.  I have been graced by God with more than I deserve.  Family—the highlight of my life.  I am most thankful for each and every member of our family.  I am especially thankful for Lynn who has put up with me for over 44 years.

Here are today’s coronavirus numbers:

November 26       Infected                   Died

World               61,281,235           1,436,844

US                     13,245,589              269,520

Virginia               228,900                  4,029

Augusta County       1,142                       11

Another 2,600 new cases for Virginia in the past 24 hours.  I was hoping to see this increasing trend stop sometime soon but it doesn’t appear to be doing that.

November 27, 2020

Today was Black Friday but this year’s is quite a bit different from previous ones, of course.  Nonetheless, Lynn and I were out bright and early.  Our first stop was at Lowe’s where Lynn bought poinsettias as she always does on Black Friday.  Then we went to Walmart followed by Dollar Tree in Staunton.  We were also looking for Christmas trees and had decided that we wouldn’t be going to a tree farm this year.  We had hoped to get a tree at Lowe’s but they looked poor there, especially for $50 or more.

Our next stop was at Kroger and, surprisingly, we liked their Christmas trees and they were only $35 so we bought ours.  We were scheduled to meet Ann and Betsy at Lowe’s at 9:00 to get the Gutshall tree but we called her and suggested they meet us at Kroger which they did.  They were also able to find a nice $35 tree so, with both in the truck, we headed home, stopping to drop the Gutshall’s off first.

Once we got back home, I unloaded our tree while Lynn unloaded poinsettias.  I managed to get ours in our normal tree stand and in water.  It wasn’t easy because our stand has at least one of three screws stripped.  Lynn wanted to go back out so this time we went to Dollar General in Weyers Cave where she returned some items then to her friend Terri Sumey’s house who had left some boards which Lynn plans to turn into porch signs.

After the busy morning, I decided to try to put lights on our tree.  This is a job I do every year and one that, quite frankly, I hate to do.  I’m never able to get them on the way Lynn likes them despite taking hours to do so.  And the tree in the wobbly stand is always an issue.  This year was no exception.  I ended up going back above the garage and found a second tree stand we had from years ago when we had two trees.  I swapped it for the one we’ve used for years and it actually worked OK.  Two hours later, I had lights on the tree.  I admit that I grumbled the entire 120 minutes.

Part of my grumbling was because I knew I was missing the WVU – Western Kentucky basketball game, the finals of the South Dakota tournament.  But I had set our DVR to record it so when I was finally able to get to it I could fast forward through the time outs and halftime.  WVU got behind by ten points early in the second half but rallied to take the championship, 68 – 62.  It is always good to see the Mountaineers win but, as I said yesterday, this team is hard to watch because they shoot so poorly.  Today they shot just well enough to pull out the victory.

Lynn had scheduled a family meeting with her sisters, Kay and Jane, and her brother, Bill, this afternoon.  They had agreed to meet so they could divide up some of the items that Bill found in their parents’ safety deposit box including numerous old silver dollars.  I did not join in on the meeting since it was a Hanger family discussion.

Today was Friday so that means that dinner tonight consisted of a trip to the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike to get hamburgers.  After eating turkey for the past five days or so I was fine with having a burger and fries. However, our plans got foiled when we got there and it was closed. So we headed for Staunton and had take-out hamburgers from The Depot. Yum!

Yesterday on Thanksgiving Day I had called my sister to see how she was doing.  She informed me that she had symptoms of a bad cold and was very lethargic.  Furthermore, she said that she had been close to a friend of hers who now has tested positive for COVID-19.  Mary K. is going to be tested tomorrow.  She was in good spirits but I can’t see how she wouldn’t be worried.  I am for her.  She won’t get the results back until 48 hours or so after her test.  She did cancel all of her Thanksgiving Day plans which had previously included working at a soup kitchen and having dinner with her daughter Kit.

I didn’t watch the news today so I don’t know what’s going on in the COVID world but at least here are today’s statistics:

November 27       Infected                   Died

World               61,953,473           1,448,163

US                     13,447,868              271,008

Virginia               230,444                  4,044

Augusta County       1,151                       11

Lynn has been in touch with the Jiminez family today about Gilberto’s condition.  Apparently it took a turn for the worse today and he is now on some kind of breathing tube at UVA, perhaps a ventilator.  Our prayers are with him, Elizabeth, Emily, and Nathan.

November 28, 2020

We started the day with a trip to Harrisonburg for Costco’s early opening at 9:00 followed by a visit to the drive-through at Wells Fargo Bank to deposit some of the money Lynn had gotten from her parents’ safe deposit box.

The news today from the Jiminez family wasn’t any better—today Elizabeth told us she was feeling poorly and would likely be tested herself for COVID-19.  Of course, she, Emily, and Nathan are quarantined now since Gilberto was tested positive.  Elizabeth told us that Gilberto was on a ventilator at UVA now—doesn’t sound good.  To help them out, we took several things to them this morning:  a chicken from Costco, trash bags and shampoo she told us they needed, some cookies and cinnamon rolls also from Costco, and a box of crafts Lynn put together for the kids.   We didn’t go anywhere near any of the family—we left the items we bought on the top of one of their cars and talked to Elizabeth from 25 or more feet away.  Tonight Elizabeth texted Lynn that she had found out that Gilberto was a little better today but would likely have the ventilator for the next week.

Today was trash day, as usual, so that’s where I went after we got back from Elizabeth’s house.  The Mount Sidney dump was a busy hub of activity with people lined back onto Route 11 to get in. 

I did a bunch of small chores today.  I cut some boards for Lynn and then cut some branches from a pine tree on the lower edge of our property so she could make some swags for our windows.  Then, with her help, I took the swings off the Pergola and transported them to the shed where we hung them from the rafters for the winter. 

I also put out more external Christmas decorations and cleaned the leaves off the front yard with my mower.  It was a busy but productive day.  Lynn and I also got in a two mile walk.

For dinner, Lynn made a turkey pot pie.  We’ve turkey in about every way it can be fixed over the past week!  Her pot pie was delicious.

I’ve been writing this blog for 222 days now.  The document in Word is now 341 pages long. 

Here are today’s coronavirus details:

November 28       Infected                   Died

World               62,542,335           1,457,366

US                     13,605,047              272,247

Virginia               233,617                  4,054

Augusta County       1,161                       11

Wow, Virginia’s daily number infected just went up by over 3,000.  That’s depressing.  At least Augusta County’s numbers didn’t increase dramatically.  On NBC news tonight, it was pointed out that there have been one million new cases each week lately.  Many municipalities have reinstated tougher guidelines. 

Interestingly, in anticipation of FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine, United Airlines has already started distributing Pfizer’s vaccine, embedded in dry ice, to various locations.  The FDA hasn’t announced yet who will get the vaccine first.

November 29, 2020

Today was Sunday but Pastor Won was on vacation so we didn’t have Zoom Sunday School class.  That meant I was off the hook for playing a hymn on my piano. 

We spent the morning completing our home Christmas decorations.  We put up our stockings, decorated the tree, and put swags on the window sills.  The house looks quite nice and will likely stay decorated until well into January.

Lynn met Cheryl Kent at Central in the early afternoon and picked up some food from the CUMC Food Pantry for her Waynesboro student, Juan Pablo.  While she did that, I created a birthday card for Freddie whose seventh birthday is on December 10.

I wasn’t sure I’d be doing in the afternoon when the phone rang.  It was Jim who suggested that today would work for him to meet us halfway between here and Roanoke to swap trucks.  I had offered to him that he could use my Toyota Tacoma for a while.  Of course, his truck was the one I gave him when I bought the Tacoma, a 1996 Ford Ranger.  Jim needs a dependable truck for some of the outside work he does.  The Tacoma has 4-wheel drive; the Ranger does not.  When I worked at Bridgewater College I bought the Tacoma.  I needed the 4-wheel drive for those days where Bridgewater had class but the weather was snowy.  Now that I’m retired, I only use the truck to go to the dump and do pickups for the Food Pantry.  So it made sense for us to trade trucks for a while.

Neither truck is new.  The Tacoma has nearly 157,000 miles on it.  The Ranger has more than 187,000 but now its odometer is broken so I don’t know how many miles are on it.  When he drove up, I chided him because the inspection expires on December 31.  He said not to worry because in 2021 the truck would be 25 years old which qualifies it for an Antique license plate which doesn’t require inspection!

We drove home entirely on US 11 because Interstate 81 was very, very busy with Thanksgiving traffic.  Driving south to meet him, we saw several places where the northbound lane was backed up.  So, we drove to Staunton on US 11 where we had the road to ourselves.  The truck ran like new. 

Lynn’s latest project is making bow ties from old, wide ties.  She made them for each grandson and great-grandson from her father’s old ties.  Now she was given some of Josh’s grandfather’s old ties so she is making them into bow ties for the males in Josh’s family.  Lynn is so talented!

I read an ABC news article which said the counts we see about coronavirus infections may take a dip over the next week but this is not because the virus is infecting fewer people.  The number of tests prior to Thanksgiving were much higher than usual as many people sought to be tested before they traveled.  These people won’t be testing this coming week which means fewer tests.  Fewer tests means fewer positives, thus, cases reported.  Here are the numbers for today:

November 29       Infected                   Died

World               63,048,631           1,464,743

US                     13,743,489              273,053

Virginia               235,942                  4,058

Augusta County       1,166                       11

For sure, the above statistics are cause for questions.  Virginia had over 2,300 new cases but only 4 new deaths.  Augusta County had only five new cases.  I hope this is true but I’m doubtful that the statistics are accurate.

Tomorrow is the end of November.  If I were to look back through my November posts, I’d see two themes repeated over and over.  First, of course, COVID-19 continues to spread like wildfire just as several vaccines are being released.  For over 270,000 Americans, they will be too little, too late.  The other is Trump’s refusal to accept the reality that he was thumped in the election.  Even today in an interview he kept saying, without proof, that there was widespread fraud in the election and even suggested his own FBI and Justice Department were in on the fraud.  His lawyers have now lost over 30 cases related to the election.  Today’s news was that the partial recount in Wisconsin was completed, at a cost of $3 million dollars to Trump’s backers, and the result was 87 more votes for Biden!  Yeah!

Lynn and I have been watching the Netflix series Virgin River again.  We watched the first season of the series in September and early October.  Season 2 has now been released and we’ve watched three episodes each of the past two nights. 

November 30, 2020

This was a wet and cold Monday.  It dried up in the afternoon but remained cool.  Lynn and I bundled up and took our two mile walk between 4:00 and 5:00 but it was very chilly.  The high tomorrow is supposed to be 39o.  Brrr!  So far this winter I’ve relied entirely on our heat pump to heat the house but I’m thinking of turning on the boiler when I go to bed tonight.

I spent the morning at Central counting the weekly deposit and double checking as Savannah entered it into QuickBooks.  So far all I’ve had her do is the weekly deposits and a few checks.  But with the end of the month comes some of the tougher tasks such as bank and credit card reconciliations.  So I’ll probably be back there for a while tomorrow.

This afternoon I tagged along as Lynn did some shopping in Waynesboro then went to meet her student, Juan Pablo.  He has been a real pain in the rear, not going to school or doing his assignments, not answering her calls or texts, but he finally did answer her today and met us at his house.  Lynn had brought a box of food from the Central Food Pantry.

“Anyone in the US who wants a vaccine will have one by June” says one of the members of Operation Warp Speed, the President’s task force on coronavirus.  Today Moderna applied to the FDA for its emergency authorization so its vaccine can be immediately distributed.  It is touted as being 94% effective and 100% effective against severe cases of the virus.  It could be out to Americans by December 17; Pfizer’s is set to go by December 10 if its emergency authorization is given.

There were 4.1 million new COVID-19 cases in November, around 1/3 of the total since the pandemic began.  Today there are almost 100,000 Americans hospitalized with it.  Included in that number is our friend Gilberto Jiminez.  Elizabeth said she was told today that he was doing some better, breathing on his own though he is still intubated with a breathing tube.

Here are today’s numbers:

November 30       Infected                   Died

World               63,549,184           1,473,123

US                     13,900,272              274,143

Virginia               237,835                  4,062

Augusta County       1,177                       11

This is such a familiar story:  nearly 2,000 new cases in Virginia though only 4 more deaths.  The US number increased by more than 150,000 new cases and over 1,000 more deaths.  Augusta County has 43 people currently hospitalized according to the Virginia Department of Health site.  The Staunton Newsleader reported that Staunton alone had 221 new cases reported today.  Staunton’s November total was 1,182 so that means 1/5th of the monthly total came today.  I guess it is somewhat good news that Augusta County’s percentage of those who have died from COVID-19 is less than 1% of those who have been infected.

Tonight, Lynn and I will likely watch the final two episodes of season two of Virgin River.  This show has many subplots involving many people in the small town it is set in.  The scenery is beautiful.  Supposedly the town of Virgin River is a northern California town but I read that the show is shot in Vancouver and British Columbia.  There is no real town named Virgin River.  I did see one bridge scene that must have been filmed just outside of Vancouver because Lynn and I visited that bridge when we were there.  It is the Capilano Suspension Bridge.  It is very high and scenic.  I walked over the bridge and back but Lynn only walked a short way onto the bridge.

October 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

October 1, 2020

I guess I had a good idea that when I started writing this in April I’d still be doing so in October.  Of course, then I didn’t know what the future held.  Now I’m predicting that I’ll still be writing this come next April.  I plan to keep writing until we can safely go out to restaurants, ball games, church, family gatherings, and other social events.  Perhaps by April 2021 we will have been vaccinated.  Until then, things aren’t that much different today than they were on April 20 when I started this blog.  What an awful year!

Part of this was written from the Augusta Health parking lot.  I dropped Lynn off at AMC at 7:15 today for her colonoscopy.  I waited for her in the parking lot until that unpleasant ordeal was over.  She was a real trooper for this, obeying all of the instructions for the prep.  There are few things in life more unpleasant than that.

Unfortunately, she came back with bad news—she has to do the entire thing again tomorrow.  The physician found two polyps which he removed, but told her that because of “incomplete preparation” he wasn’t able to proceed.  So again today she had to drink that awful liquid, avoid any foods except liquids, and return on Friday for more of the same.

There was concern and good news both in this message.  The fact is, he didn’t find any tumors.  He found two polyps which will be sent off to see if they were cancerous or not.  Either way, he removed them.  I do admit I have my doubts about his statement that she had incomplete preparation because I know she did everything by the instructions she was given.  In fact, she did even more because she could have eaten breakfast yesterday but did not.

Fortunately, the AMC parking lot had decent WiFi so I was able to keep up with the morning’s news.  Here’s one story from ABC:

President Donald Trump will hold more large-scale campaign rallies in Wisconsin this weekend as coronavirus cases and hospitalization rage across the battleground state, making the clear decision to prioritize campaigning rather than worry about more people getting sick.

Wisconsin, which is a must-win state in the president’s path to victory, is in the midst of an alarming surge of coronavirus cases just a month before the election — an unprecedented political curveball that could alter Wisconsin voters’ opinions on who they trust to handle the pandemic, as more are personally impacted by the virus.

The surge also comes as 1.2 million Wisconsinites have already started the voting process by mail, momentum which Trump aims to capitalize on when he visits Saturday.

The president is scheduled to make his third visit to Wisconsin over the past couple months, this time in La Crosse and Green Bay — but his visit also comes at odds with the advice of his own White House Coronavirus Task Force, which has just classified the cities as “red zones” in a new report. The report urged for “the maximum degree possible” of social distancing in the state.

In the past week, the state has reported nearly 16,000 new cases, compared to just over 5,000 new cases reported in the last week of August. Last Saturday alone, the state reported close to 3,000 new cases.

Hospitalizations have also been on the rise, and the Wisconsin Health Department reported that 82% of hospital beds across the state are in capacity as of Tuesday. In Green Bay, where the president is headed, one health system reportedly said this week that its hospital there was at 94% capacity.

What selfishness…to put your own ego ahead of other peoples’ health.  Another article I read in The Atlantic noted that Trump’s rude behavior at the debate sends a subtle message to his followers:

In that sense, the interruptions worked as their own empty messages. Much of Trump’s speech doubles as promises made to the people inclined to admire him: You, too, could be rich, or pretend to be. You, too, can insult other people and dismiss their indignation as political correctness. You, too, can do what you want, when you want, because you have defined political freedom as social impunity. So Trump’s bulldozing and steamrolling had a certain inverse eloquence. The interruptions broke the rules of the debate, and delighted in the breaking. They gratified Trump’s delusions of dominance. They spoke to Americans who share Trump’s conviction that destruction is a means to power.

Indeed, his base thought his performance at the debate was great.  They saw this debate as like a Muhammed Ali fight, with the more frequent and harder the punches come the better.  I believe that his base didn’t want a debate, they wanted a brawl.  After all, those who don’t reason don’t discuss or debate, they fight.

Lynn has been in a funk lately since she feels incarcerated in our house.  Indeed, our many fall trips have been canceled including several to the Barter Theatre and the big one to South America.  As I’ve written before, not only has COVID-19 kept us at home but she feels obligated to be nearby her mother.  I’ve been looking for a one night get-away for us which would be something we could safely do.  I came up with a stay at the lodge in Hawks Next State Park in West Virginia.  I made a reservation for Wednesday, October 14, in a room with a canyon view of the New River Gorge.  Lynn was fine with this.  I’m thinking that the leaves should be very nice by then.  We might stop by the Greenbrier or Food and Friends on our way for lunch.  On Thursday morning there is a tram ride down into the gorge we may take before coming home in time for Freddie’s arrival.

Yesterday was Betsy’s 11th birthday but she had a full evening with dance so we had her over in the afternoon today to celebrate.  As has been my custom, I created a math treasure hunt for her which led her around our yard finding clues until she got to her present.  The whole family came over and we had a fine, though short, visit with them.  As always, I posted pictures on my website.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 1             Infected                   Died

World               34,440,228           1,023,430

US                       7,489,547              212,506

Virginia               148,721                  3,228

Augusta County          507                         7

I’m not sure what’s going on with Augusta County’s numbers.  The Virginia Department of Health dashboard showed the number of infections in Augusta County actually decreased by 5 from yesterday.  There must have been a data error yesterday.

My cousin Marjorie Martorella passed along a Facebook post that I liked.  Lynn reposted it.  Here’s its text: “The president has scheduled two rallies in Wisconsin this weekend.  Wisconsin had its highest number of coronavirus deaths yesterday.  Wisconsin has a legal mandate requiring masks and social distancing.  The president refuses to respect these state laws. Don’t tell me he is a law and order candidate. He is not.  Don’t tell me he believes in protecting human life. He does not.”

Trump believes that OTHERS should obey law and order, not him.  He showed this at the debate, completely ignoring the rules that his own party had agreed to.  He’s like the policemen I complained about in a post last month who drive well over the speed limit when they’re casually driving on the interstate without their flashing lights on.  The laws apply to everyone else.

There are issues that I thought would have been part of this election but have been pushed to the back burner.  For example, gun control is no longer discussed on the national forum.  I guess we have to wait until there’s another mass murder.  Ironically, today is the 3rd anniversary of the deadliest shooting ever, the Las Vegas mass murder.  It seems like ages ago that Lynn and I went to Washington to demonstrate in support of gun control measures as led by the kids from Florida.  If we had more gun control we wouldn’t have as many headline-making killings in the US.  Do I want the 2nd Amendment repealed?  No, but I do strongly believe there is no place for weapons which can shoot hundreds of bullets in a minute.  Let the hunters keep their 22’s and shotguns but take away every semi-automatic gun and its ammunition.

Fortunately, education has not been an issue thus far.  It is not a federal issue anyway; education is the duty of each state.  The federal government’s major involvement is with areas like Special Education.  Let’s keep it that way.  We don’t need the feds leading us down another No Child Left Behind debacle like George Bush did.  Trump couldn’t do it anyway because his education chief is Betsy DeVos who doesn’t have a clue about public schools.

Immigration has hardly been mentioned.  In 2016 Trump made such a big deal out of his push to build a wall along the entire Mexican border.  The wall has never been built, thank goodness.  However, he is still holding kids captured from those trying to illegally enter into the US and kept them in cases.

Oh well, we’ve had plenty of other issues to talk and write about….

October 2, 2020

I shouldn’t express surprise at this; we all knew it was coming.  Overnight it was announced that President Trump and his wife have both tested positive with COVID-19.  I don’t wish this on anyone but I can truly say he asked for it.  He very rarely wore masks and participated in many social events where attendees did not observe social distance.  Yes, he was tested daily, but tests don’t keep coronavirus away.  He is 74 years old and overweight—both not good.

Maybe he can take lots of hydroxychloroquine.  Or have himself injected with bleach or ultraviolet rays.  I know I shouldn’t joke about this but all of these are what he has suggested as treatments.  Some Facebook users said he should get the witch doctor or the pillow guy to heal him.

Time magazine said it well, “Nobody knows exactly what happens next. The President of the United States has contracted a disease that has killed more than 207,000 Americans and sickened some 7.3 million. It will undoubtedly add new chaos into an election season already in uncharted territory as a result of the global pandemic, the resulting economic downturn, a reckoning on racial justice and wildfires torching the American West.”  The magazine also noted that eight out of ten of the 207,000 American deaths have been to citizens over 65 years of age.

ABC news reported that “everything is on hold.”  The Wisconsin rallies I raised a fuss about yesterday are no longer.  Both are well at this time as reported by White House doctors.  There are so many people in his circle who may have contracted it, especially since none of them wear masks.  Trump even made fun of Joe Biden for wearing masks at the debate on Tuesday night.  Sounds like the joke is on him.

Just last night in a speech he said that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.”  What irony!  He has downplayed COVID-19 so much in his re-election campaign.  I guess he’ll change his tune now.

Unknown at this point are how far reaching this event will affect the news.  The stock market is supposed to take a definite hit from the news of his infection.  Will the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court be delayed?  Will the upcoming debates be canceled?

As I wrote yesterday, Lynn had her second colonoscopy this morning at Augusta Health.  She had no solid food for over two days.   Despite this, she remained in surprisingly good moods.  I would have been a monster to live with.

The news was good after Lynn’s second colonoscopy today.  There was only one small polyp found and it was removed.  She should be good to go now.  What an ordeal!  2020 has not been a good year for her:  no travel, broken foot, and two colonoscopies.

Today my brother Butch posted this on Facebook, “I’m a little saddened that so many people are happy about the Trumps’ positive COVID test; I hoped that people would be more empathetic. Don’t you have any feeling for the virus that has to exist in such hellish conditions?”  I commented “I actually hope he makes a full recovery just in time for a landslide Biden victory so he and his rich white supremacist cronies can see that Americans are tired of bullying, lies, incompetence, selfishness, and disdain for science and those of other nationalities or races.”

Biden and his wife Jill both tested negative today but they aren’t out of the woods yet since there is an incubation period after being exposed to coronavirus.  The same applies to Mike Pence.  I think many medical experts are saying Pence should be quarantined but he’s definitely not.  He’s back on the campaign trail.

Lynn and I celebrated getting her colonoscopies behind her this evening by grabbing hamburgers at the Schoolhouse Burgers food truck at Valley Pike.  They were delicious.  Then we went to Walmart for her to grab a couple of things followed by dessert at Smileys.  Earlier today I took her to Staunton to visit with her mother and to a couple of grocery stores there.  It felt good to be somewhat back in the swing of things.

This afternoon Trump was taken to Walter Reed Hospital “for precautionary reasons.”  I was a little surprised by this; perhaps he is having more than just the “mild symnptoms” that have been reported thus far.  Earlier on Friday, the White House revealed that President Trump was treated with a single 8-gram dose of Regeneron’s experimental antibody cocktail, called REGN-COV2.  Personally, I think this is strange.

Tonight, out of respect for the office, Joe Biden pulled all of his negative television ads.  I have to wonder if the shoe had been on the other foot if Trump would have done this.

Certainly this turn of events will make COVID-19 as the most important topic in what’s left of the Presidential campaign.  Speaking of COVID-19, here are today’s numbers:

October 2             Infected                   Died

World               34,813,661           1,032,607

US                     7,548,796*              213,497

Virginia           149,687**                  3,250

Augusta County          510                         7

*Including President Donald Trump

**Including Governor Ralph Northram

Lynn and I watched the end of the second season of Virgin River last night on Netflix.  It ended with many unresolved issues up in the air.  Of course, that just makes us want to see its third season when it resumes sometime later this year or next.  The events of today likewise ended up being a cliffhanger.  Will Trump get worse?  Go on a ventilator?  Die from COVID-19?  Will the Supreme Court nomination be delayed?  Who else will now test positive?  Will the 25th Amendment play out?

Keep coming back and we’ll all find out!

October 3, 2020

One month from today and we’ll have all of this election behind us.  My e-mail and texts will drop markedly.  Yes, I get texts every day from Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, et. al.  Facebook will have to come up with new insults to post.

While Lynn had her colonoscopy yesterday I walked at Augusta Health.  First I walked the loop around the hospital then walked on the trail that has been constructed along Lifecore Drive. I walked out to US 250 then back to Tinkling Springs Road, then returned to the hospital just in time to pick her up.  It ended up being around a 4.8 mile walk, just over 10,000 steps for me, I was happy to get this in but I paid the price last night with leg cramps keeping me from sleeping.  Getting old is no fun!

The news this morning still leaves a lot up in the air.  After he was given the experimental cocktail, the President was given remdesivir which indicates to me that he wasn’t doing so well.  The news said that he wasn’t receiving any supplemental oxygen. 

Joe Biden is back on the campaign trail.  When I was a high school tennis coach, it was not uncommon to watch a match in which my player’s opponent seemed to twist an ankle or have some other injury.  Many times the opponent would limp on and immediately receive sympathetic encouragement from his fans.  Oftentimes my player’s reaction was to take it easy on the opponent but occasionally this came back to bite him as the opponent, spurred on by his new encouragement, would stage a comeback.  I used to coach my players that if an opponent is hurt, the best place for him is on the sidelines being treated, and the best thing my player could do for him is to get him there quickly by beating him, not letting up.  I’d say the same for Biden; he should not let up.  He should forge on.

I learned this morning that Senators are not allowed to vote virtually.  Two Republican Senators who attended the reception for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett last week have come down with coronavirus and a third Senator also has tested positive.   There may be more.  If this trend continues, then it is possible that the Republicans won’t have enough votes to get her confirmed.  I’m not hoping for more infections, just pointing out that super spreader events like that reception in which no one wore masks or stayed socially distant may come back to bite the Republicans.  Lindsay Graham says they are still full steam ahead with the nomination.

One really funny Facebook post today said that “With the possibility that he may have to take over Trump’s activities this weekend, White House aides are frantically teaching Mike Pence how to play golf.”  Another one showed a picture of Barack Obama with the caption, “I’m just waiting to see how it’s my fault.” 

Today’s news has a lot about all of the contract tracing going on around Donald Trump.  He has been in so many social gatherings, with so many people, few of whom wore masks or respected social distancing.  This must be a nightmare of a project. 

Lynn wanted to get some mums which were on sale this morning at Overlook Produce so we got there just as they opened.  She bought seven so she can give one to her friends, sisters, and aunt, Jo Lee Hanger, who is now living at The Legacy where her Mom is. 

There was a news conference scheduled for 11:00 this morning in which the physicians at Walter Reed were supposed to give the public an update on the President’s condition.  The conference was delayed over and over, leading to suspicion as to what the physicians were being told to say.  Prior to this, I watched CNN news which predicted that we would not be told the full truth.  Noting that the President has developed several symptoms, whereas most people who contact the disease do not develop symptoms until a few days after initially contracting coronavirus, they wondered when he actually did catch the virus and thus became contagious. 

A team of ten physicians did give the update around 11:40. They said that Trump was doing very well.  All of his bodily functions were normal and he was not put on oxygen.  They said he will be given daily remdesivir dosages.  He was fever-free for the past 24 hours and in good spirits, they reported.  They noted that day 7-10 is critical for all coronavirus patients so we’ll keep in tune.  They would not indicate when he had his last negative test result.  They were evasive when asked if he had ever been on oxygen and about results of tests on his lungs.  All of this makes us more skeptical.  The intent was clearly to tell America that he is OK.

My interest in the news was sidelined for four hours this afternoon as WVU played Baylor in football in Morgantown.  In front of empty stands, the Mountaineers pulled out a 27-21 victory in overtime.  It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done!  Facebook had a link so our fans could cue up Country Roads after the game.

Lynn and I managed to walk a mile today.  Her foot isn’t 100% yet but it is getting better.  It was nice to walk with her again.

I probably spend too much time reading comments on Facebook.  There are so many people who are questioning Trump’s COVID-19 infection.  Some say he lies so much he is lying now.  Some say it is a stunt since he is so far behind in the polls.  I think he actually is infected.  But even among those who, like me, do believe he’s got the virus, there are many who write comments like they wish the 203,000 dead Americans could have had the health care he is experiencing now, especially since he only paid $750 in federal taxes for all this. 

Here are today’s statistics:

October 3             Infected                   Died

World               35,119,579           1,037,465

US                       7,600,137              214,269

Virginia               150,803                  3,270

Augusta County          518                         7

The spike in US infections came from those who attended the White House lawn party about Amy Coney Barrett 🙂

October 4, 2020

There remains some controversy about Trump’s health status.  As I said yesterday, the team of doctors at Walter Reed made it sound like he was ready to get back on the golf course.  Meanwhile, his own chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said he had concerning vitals including shortness of breath and was given oxygen at the White House.  The administration lacks the ability to be honest with the American people.

I like the Facebook post that simply says “Pray for Donald Trump, Vote for Joe Biden.”

The doctors today said that Trump is improving, with stable vital signs and no fever.  They said he had been given dexamethasone due to lower oxygen levels.  They indicated he may be released tomorrow.  The doctors on CNN were very skeptical of what we were told at today’s press conference, saying we weren’t being told everything.  They say he is getting good care but we, the public, are not getting good information.  They suspect Trump has told them not to divulge things.  They pointed out, for example, that he is getting a five day dose of remdesivir which has to be issued in a hospital.  So how could he be released tomorrow?

Central UMC had in-person services today for the first time since the pandemic began.  Actually it was the first time we had a service in the sanctuary since the boiler died that day and it wasn’t fixed until shortly after the pandemic hit.  Lynn and I didn’t attend and likely won’t attend until we’re vaccinated. 

Lynn did go in to help her mother with lunch, came back and baked bread, and has done other chores including washing the sheets and towels today.  She’s been much more industrious than I have been. 

Another bizarre day for Donald Trump.  He took an experimental drug cocktail that wasn’t even on the FDA approved list when he was initially diagnosed.  He has had two doses of remdesivir which is for people who are at advanced states of coronavirus then took dexamethasone because he had breathing issues.  His doctors pretended he was doing OK but left many in serious doubt that we were being told the full truth.  Then, to top it all, he hopped into a car and took a short trip around his supporters outside Walter Reed just so he could have a photo op waving to them.  In doing so, he contaminated secret service people who accompanied him.  CNN News went ballistic over this, saying they couldn’t believe his callousness.  One doctor they interviewed afterward called him “amazingly irresponsible.”  Another said that if he really believes that “blue lives matter” then why did he put the secret service people at risk? 

Trump is trying to put out the image that he is strong, well, and defeating COVID-19.  He has at least twelve doctors at Walter Reed taking care of him.   One of the CNN doctors said that, given the trifecta of medicines Trump is taking, he must be in grave danger.  This is the opposite of the image Trump and his doctors are trying to convey.  Who knows?  We’re kept in the dark by this administration.

Lynn’s sisters found some old newspaper clippings of her dad’s sports and military achievements.  He was quite a basketball and baseball player!  I’m going to scan some of these documents.

With all the news about Donald Trump, the coronavirus spread has taken the back burner on the news except for the spread that was caused by Trump during the past week including the Amy Coney Barrett party.  Here are today’s statistics:

October 4             Infected                   Died

World               35,387,524           1,041,538

US                       7,635,556              214,610

Virginia               151,870                  3,273

Augusta County          525                         7

This is a mixed bag.  Virginia had over 1,000 new cases in the past 24 hours but only three more deaths. 

October 5, 2020

The news media today is still having a field day with Trump’s careless stunt yesterday of making a photo op out of his Walter Reed stay.  Many other doctors have come out highly critical of this.

I spent the first half of the day today at Central UMC.  This was our bookkeeper’s last day and I wanted her to show me how to do some things on QuickBooks since I will be doing this until we get someone hired.  It did not work out that way.  We began by starting to do a reconciliation of the bank statement for September.  She had told me that she had been doing reconciliations every month.  But when we started the process, I quickly discovered that she had not checked off most items that had cleared the bank for the last four months.  We spent the entire morning trying to clean that up.  There were many other issues, and not all of them her fault.  For example, we now have online banking where many of us make our monthly donations to the church through an online service called VANCO.  VANCO sends e-mails to her and to me every time a donation is made.  So, for example, if I made a $100 donation she would get an e-mail confirming this so she would make a $100 deposit to our checking account.  It turns out that VANCO charges for its services and withdraws its fees before it deposits to the bank.  So the bank deposit might show a deposit of $96.80.  This makes reconciling a mess because her entry into the books was for $100, not $96.80.  There have been lots of these type deposits in the last four months; I think I’ll have to clean up all of them, one at a time. 

I left after about four hours of working on this with the reality that I’ll be spending lots and lots of time at Central over the next month trying to get the books back in better shape.  She had made lots of errors and mis-filings.  I’m hoping to get the previous bookkeeper, Sarah, to come back for a few hours to help me but she has a new baby and another small child so I’m not sure she’ll come.  I tried calling her today but she has not returned my call yet.

I’m really worried about this task, partially because I know the books are so messed up and partially because I have never done this kind of bookkeeping before. 

Our Biden sign was stolen from our front yard last night.  I guess we should have been surprised it lasted as long as it did.  Strangely, the other Biden signs on our road were untouched.  Lynn called the local Democratic headquarters and they brought us a couple of replacement signs this afternoon.  Taking our sign was such low class behavior.  We’ll see how long the new one lasts.  Only 29 days until the signs won’t mean anything.

Lynn and I got in a short walk again today.  Her foot is still not back to normal so we’ve limited our walks to just up to Mount Pisgah UMC and back, about a mile in all.  She doesn’t hurt when she walks but sometimes does afterwards.

The news this evening was another Trump surprise.  He was released from Walter Reed Hospital at 6:30. This just happens to coincide with the nightly news time, no surprise.  He wants to be the feature story and he wanted to show how tough he is and how minor COVID-19 is.  He even tweeted “Don’t be afraid of COVID.  Don’t let it dominate your life…”   At least he wore a mask as he was transported from the hospital to the helicopter to take him back to the White House.

Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, told reporters on Monday that it’s been more than 72 hours since Trump had a fever, his oxygen levels and breathing are all normal.  Conley noted that Trump “may not entirely be out of the woods yet” but the medical team agrees that their evaluations and Trump’s clinical status support his return home where “he’ll be surrounded by world class medical care 24/7.”   He will be closely monitored through next weekend given the typical length of mild COVID-19 infections.  ABC News suggested that it was Trump’s idea, not the doctors’, to return to the White House.

It’s just that kind of care that has earned him a barrage of negative comments on social media.  People complain that he got all of this first-class care after paying only $750 for it.  Many people are saying it was all a hoax.  Some doctors still say the medicines he got are those given to people who are struggling with recovery from COVID-19, not to those who are in the initial stages of a mild reaction to it.  Social media posts note that there are families of 210,000 dead Americans who wish their loved ones had the kind of care he got.  The ABC News medical expert, Dr. Ashish Jha, noted that Trump’s comment about not being afraid of COVID-19 is very misleading to the public.  He said he had hoped this would cause Trump to take a more serious attitude toward the disease but it appears to have had the opposite effect.  Rachel Maddow wrote that his tweets were the most dangerous thing he has ever tweeted.  “Even after his own hospitalization, he appears to have learned nothing.”

His own press secretary announced today that she had tested positive—just another of the many who picked it up due to the careless attitude the White House has had about the CDC’s recommendations for masks and social distancing.  At least eighteen people who have been at the recent White House events have come down with the virus. Multiple White House sources told ABC News there is “a full-blown freak-out” in the administration waiting to see who will be next to test positive — with aides not trusting each other and some trying to find ways to avoid coming into work at all.

Here’s the killer—the news reported that when he entered the White House from his helicopter ride, he took his mask off!  He then came back out, maskless, to make sure the photographers got photos of him near the flag.  I watched CNN news afterwards and they had a fit over this.  “This is just another reminder that we elected a reality TV star,” said one of them.  “He demonstrated that he doesn’t take seriously the health of the people at the White House.”  Supposedly he told his staff to not tell anyone about when he got his positive test. 

CNN also hit hard on Trump’s doctors for their non-answers to reporters’ questions today about his last negative test, his lung CT scans, his blood thinners, and what other medicines he may/may not be on.  His doctors wouldn’t answer any questions about those things. 

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN said Trump should be in isolation, not walking around with his mask off.  He is still contagious and putting others at risk.  Dr. Gupta said, “Everywhere he goes will have to be decontaminated.” 

The forecast for the next several days is for beautiful weather and warmer temperatures.  I can’t wait!

In addition to all of the hoopla over Trump, ABC also reported that the number of infections are rising again in 33 states.  Here are today’s numbers:

October 5             Infected                   Died

World               35,660,945           1,045,227

US                       7,674,395              214,959

Virginia               152,557                  3,276

Augusta County          534                         7

I am fully in favor of universal healthcare for Americans.  Republicans yell that they don’t want socialized medicine.  Yet Donald Trump’s care at Walter Reed was at a hospital where 100% of the doctors are government employees and 100% of the employees there are government employees.  It is a government-run, completely socialized form of medical care.  If it is good enough for Trump, why is it not good enough for me and you?

October 6, 2020

Today was the worst day I have had in months.  I was at Central UMC morning, afternoon, and night working on QuickBooks.  The more I worked the more problems I found.  In the morning I talked with Jeff DeLong who now lives in Martinsburg, WV and was a long-time treasurer at Central.  He gave me some ideas to work on which took a long time.  Basically, he told me to undo the reconciliations that had been done for August, July, June, and May then redo them,  Easier said than done.  I spent hours and hours on this today and finally came home near 10:00 pm having only completed May’s reconciliation.  Even it wasn’t exactly right but it was close.  I spent about two hours on June, never completed it, and it is far from correct.  I’ll dig back into it tomorrow at some point.

The previous bookkeeper just seems to have done so many things wrong—not entered check numbers on checks, omitted some deposits that the bank got, wrote some checks twice, did not pay a recurring bill in July though it was paid in June and August, and on and on.  I am so tired and frustrated. 

Here are today’s statistics.  My apologies for not writing more but I’m just too tired.

October 6             Infected                   Died

World               36,037,992           1,054,514

US                       7,722,746              215,822

Virginia               153,182                  3,291

Augusta County          535                         7

October 7, 2020

Today is my sister Mary K’s 75th birthday.  Wow, ¾ of a century!  I called her this evening and had a nice conversation.  It turns out that Butch and Wiley were visiting with her for a few days.  We discussed Thanksgiving briefly.  Butch is trying to reserve a banquet room at the Ohio University Inn for all in our family who want to come.  I think we can go and still maintain safe distance so I’m looking forward to it.  We haven’t been to Ohio for Thanksgiving for many, many years.

I spent all day again today at Central learning more about QuickBooks.  I’ve been learning a lot by seeing how Sarah, our bookkeeper until May 1, did things.  As I ‘ve mentioned, she’s going to come to CUMC on Monday and help me first-hand.  She was a very good bookkeeper, unlike the one who was just fired from that position.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep well last night because I was so worked up over reconciling Central’s QuickBooks with the bank statements.  Today I looked at how Sarah did this in February and decided to put this on the back burner for a while.  In the meantime, I discovered that the bookkeeper who took her place did all of the deposits wrong.  So I’ve got four months of deposits to fix.  There weren’t any funds lost, just not placed in the proper subaccounts they were supposed to be in.  I spent a lot of time today seeing how Sarah did this.

Tonight we had our weekly Zoom meeting for those who were available.  Jim and boys plus Kay and kids were on.  It was so good to see them.  Faron and Coen were wound up and Thomas and Georgia entertained us with silly songs.  Fun!

Tonight was also the Vice Presidential debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence.  We were both tired but still tried our best to stay up for the fireworks!

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 7             Infected                   Died

World               36,376,224           1,059,914

US                       7,773,134              216,705

Virginia               153,691                  3,303

Augusta County          540                         7

The President is making it sound like coronavirus is a snap.  Sure, he had the best care a person can get.  I don’t think the one million dead in the world would agree with him.

October 8, 2020

This was another day with lots of QuickBooks work so I don’t have time to write much.  I am feeling better about QuickBooks, though.  I’m a long way from being competent but I do feel more confident that I can do the jobs the way Sarah did them.  So far I think I can do checks and deposits OK.  I need lots more time with credit cards and payroll.  I spent most of the day today reviewing how Sarah had done deposits and discovered that our previous bookkeeper did not follow her examples.  So, much of today was spent correcting the last four months deposits.

The checks written were OK, as far as I can tell.  The reconciliations were clearly not and that’s what had me so upset a few days ago.  I’ve decided to postpone fooling with the reconciliations until I have a better handle on all of the normal duties the treasurer has in paying bills, writing checks, and making deposits.  Then I’ll learn about the other tasks.

As I’m learning to copy what Sarah did, I’m also trying to understand exactly why.  I know how to create General Journal entries the way she did but I’m not 100% sure as to why they are necessary for some accounts but not for others.  QuickBooks takes care of most of the tasks but not all and that’s where the Journal Entries come in.

I’ve got quite a list of questions for her when she comes on Monday afternoon.  I’m hoping she can come back the following week because I know I’ll have a ton of questions then.

Lynn and I haven’t been together as much since I’ve been working at the church so much and she’s got her own set of jobs including several mini-jobs with both Rockingham and Albemarle Counties.  Today, for example, she went to Linville Edom Elementary School to help a teacher there and tomorrow she has a day with lots of online training for Albemarle County.  We did enjoy dinner together then a trip to Smiley’s for dessert.

President Trump seems to have magically been cured of COVID-19 in just four days.  It makes you really wonder if he ever tested positive.  I know I shouldn’t be so negative but he has lied so much about so many things.  He pulled out of the next debate because it was scheduled to be virtual.  But who can blame Biden for not wanting to be in the same room as someone who supposedly has COVID-19 and, thus, would be contagious.

Here are today’s statistics:

October 8             Infected                   Died

World               36,738,690           1,066,412

US                       7,833,763              217,738

Virginia               155,535                  3,328

Augusta County          550                         7

The VDH site says there were almost 700 cases that were reported on October 8 which should have been included on October 7.  The numbers still show no sign of dropping off.  There were over 60,000 cases and 1,000 deaths in the US in the past 24 hours. 

October 9, 2020

Another day of full time work at CUMC.  I’m getting the hang of lots of it, though.  Today it took me a long time but I figured out how to keep accurate records of our church’s investments.  There are three endowment funds, two with Schwab and one with First Bank.  This morning none of the June – September records of these investments were accurate.  When I left at 3:30 this afternoon all were accurate to the penny.  This process is rather involved but not only did I make it work for the last four months but I set up a spreadsheet which will make subsequent calculations very easy. 

Central has three checking accounts.  One is the Memorial Fund where people donate money in memory of someone who has passed on. Another is called the Samaritan Fund which is used to help people, usually not members of Central, who have some kind of financial need.  This fund is pretty much self-sufficient; various members contribute to it throughout the year.  The third is the major account, the general fund.  It is divided into two parts, one general and the other with several designated funds such as Food Pantry, Kitchen Fund, etc.  Thus each of these subaccounts has its own balance but all are still part of the overarching General Fund.  It is a little tricky to move money around in these accounts.  The more I’ve worked with this over the past week the more I’ve come to wonder why we have three checking accounts.  No checks are ever written from the Memorial or Samaritan Funds.  So why couldn’t they just be subsets of the General Fund like the Food Pantry and Kitchen Fund are?  I’ll be asking some of the old-timers if they know why the accounts were set up this way.  It would simplify bookkeeping if I didn’t have to reconcile three different accounts.

I hustled home and made a trash run, picking up the Gutshall’s trash as usual.  I had to hurry because Jim was on his way here and I wanted to get back before he came.  I made it in time.  He has told us he wanted to come and mow our grass using the new zero-turn lawnmower.  Sure enough, in less than an hour he had it mowed and trimmed.  What a nice son!

He, Lynn, and I ate dinner consisting of hamburgers and French fries Lynn picked up from the Schoolhouse Food Truck.  They were delicious.  We had a good time chatting afterwards, mostly about Donald Trump’s ineptness.

By working so hard during the day I’ve missed lots of the news that I formerly watched throughout the day.  I did learn that Trump has refused to do the next debate because its organizers had decided to do it all virtually.  He wouldn’t like the fact that the person running the debate could silence him with the mute command—something I wish was available at the last debate when he wouldn’t shut up.  He said was completely healed from COVID-19 so there was no reason to not have the debate live.  Would anyone in his right mind want to be in the same room as a person who had just been infected for a little over a week?  How does he know he’s not contagious?  Maybe because he never had it in the first place?  Biden was willing to do the debate virtually. 

Here are today’s numbers:

October 9             Infected                   Died

World               37,091,382           1,072,141

US                       7,893,374              218,637

Virginia               156,649                  3,344

Augusta County          555                         7

Over 1,000 cases in Virginia and 900 deaths in the US in just 24 hours.  But sure, we should have more big political rallies and in-person meetings with people like Donald Trump.  What an idiot!

 

October 10, 2020

Today’s weather wasn’t nearly as good as the last several days.  It rained a little on and off all day—not a washout but just a drizzle several times.  I had gotten used to seeing the sun.  Not today!

This morning I went to Central and continued to learn more about QuickBooks.  I setup to print the checks for all the outstanding bills.  I’ll get Sarah to double check my setup before printing these on Monday.  I’m starting to get the hang of check writing and deposits.  I looked briefly at credit card management—I believe Central has three credit cards—but I need to jump into this next week.  Then all I’ll need help with is Payroll.

I have a huge list of questions for Sarah.  Some have to do with why she did some transactions the way she did them; others are simply how do I do such and such? 

Central was having a BBQ fundraiser today so I picked up two quarts for us plus three for Ann and family.  We’re going to have it tomorrow.  Tonight we finished up some leftovers for dinner.

This afternoon Lynn’s cousin Steve and his wife Becky came over.  They are from St. Paul, Minnesota and visiting Hanger relatives in the area.  We see them every couple of years.  Interestingly, Becky’s parents live in upstate New York so they can’t drive to see them because New York forces all incoming drivers from high COVID-19 infectious states to quarantine for 14 days.  You can’t even drive through New York if you want to go to New England.  And, they usually drive through Canada but Canada won’t allow US drivers in, either.  What a situation!  And you know who we have to thank for all this.  Are we great in America or what?  We sat in the pergola and, fortunately, it only sprinkled a very little bit.  We had a nice visit with them.

This evening we went to a few Dollar General stores as Lynn needed to buy some cleaning supplies and she had a $5 off coupon.  We went to several different ones because she was looking for some specific items which we never did find.  We had nothing else to do so our entertainment for this evening visiting Dollar Generals in the area.  Now is that some kind of fun?

While Trump says he is anxious to get back to his crowded rallies, the medical staff of the White House has been strangely tight-lipped about when he has been tested in the past ten days and when his last negative test was.  They’re definitely covering something up.  Trump spoke to hundreds of his faithful on the White House lawn today—maskless.

In the meantime, COVID-19 still rages at places in the US.  New single-day records were set yesterday in six states and worldwide.  Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and West Virginia all set records on Friday.  The number of new infections in the world increased by 350,766 on Friday, surpassing by 12,000 a record set earlier in the week.  The new cases included more than 109,000 in Europe alone, according to NBC news.  Coronavirus cases have nearly doubled over a two week period in New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Vermont. 

Here are the statistics:

October 10           Infected                   Died

World               37,448,734           1,077,190

US                       7,943,598              219,254

Virginia               157,905                  3,354

Augusta County          561                         7

Another 1,300 new cases in Virginia.  Another thousand deaths in the US.  When will it get better?  There’s no recent news about vaccines. 

I did have one significant accomplishment today–I completed my 20,000th consecutive Whirly Word puzzle! I’ve been playing this for over three and a half years daily. As I’ve described before, you are presented with six letters and must come up with all the words that can be made with those six letters. Actually, you only have to come up with about 90% of them in order to progress to the next game. If you can’t, you have to restart at game 0. I always find enough words to progress to the next game but still consider it bad if I can’t find ALL of them, even though sometimes there are 35 different words to be found. I’d say that I find 100% of the words in about 90% of the games I play but always enough to progress to the next game.

October 11, 2020

Today was another day with rainy weather.  It is supposed to dry up by lunchtime tomorrow and stay dry for a few days including our two upcoming days on Wednesday and Thursday at Hawks Nest State Park in Ansted, WV.  We spent some time today making plans for this short, one night, trip.  We found what seems to be a neat restaurant, Secret Sandwich Society, in nearby Fayetteville where we’ll likely eat dinner.  They have outdoor seating.

I had Sunday School this morning then I actually went to Central but not until the 11:00 in-person service was over.  Lynn went to visit her mother so I tagged along to Staunton where she dropped me for an hour or so while she visited.  I’m going to wait until I’m vaccinated until I attend the in-person services.

Lynn and I also made a quick trip to Costco today to get a few items we needed.  It was more crowded today than the last time we went.

I’ll be so glad when the election is over.  I get way too many texts and e-mails now.  Virginia supposedly isn’t a hotly contested state and is expected to vote Democratic.  Thus we don’t see as many tv ads as those in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida see.  Thank goodness!!

ABC reported tonight that Trump claims he has tested negative, though his doctors haven’t corroborated that claim, and is completely free of the virus now and is immune.  He’s hitting the campaign trail in Florida tomorrow.  I wouldn’t want to be there!  He claimed again that the virus would “disappear.”  The majority of Americans don’t believe him. 

ABC said there are more than 50,000 new cases for the past four days in the US.  The site I use, worldometers.info, didn’t quite have that many.  Here their statistics for today:

October 11           Infected                   Died

World               37,727,685           1,081,108

US                       7,988,458              219,684

Virginia               158,716                  3,358

Augusta County          569                         7

One of the drugs Trump took was Regeneron’s cocktail.  Its maker warned today that there are only enough doses to treat 50,000 patients now.  That will hardly help.  If I do come down with a bad case of it I would want the same drugs he took.  Fat chance that would happen…

October 12, 2020

I’ve said many times that for the past eight months I’ve felt like COVID-19 was pursuing Lynn and me, getting closer all the time.  Well, today it got the closest yet.  The day was going along well; I worked at Central all morning with plans to meet up with Sarah Russell who would help me with the bookkeeping duties in the afternoon.  She texted me around noon that she would be there at 12:30.  Great, I thought.

Then the phone rang.  It was Jim and he brought bad news.  He had been notified that a person with whom he had been in relatively close contact with last week has come down with coronavirus symptoms.  This was the shop teacher who helped him diagnose what was wrong with his pickup truck, the spark plugs.  Jim had been in close enough contact with him that he now has to quarantine for fourteen days.

Jim had visited with Lynn and me last Friday, as I wrote then.  He got here at 4:30, immediately hopped on the mower and mowed our lawn.  As he was finishing up Lynn went to get our sandwiches so as soon as Jim finished we sat down on the back porch and ate our sandwiches, then he left.  He did not come into the house nor get within six feet of either of us, though we did not wear masks since we were outside.  This visit happened after the time he had been with his friend whom he now thinks has COVID-19. 

I quickly got on the CDC website to see what the protocol was for Lynn and me.  It turns out that we are not required to quarantine.  If either of us develops symptoms or if Jim develops them then we are to quarantine.  Jim told us today he was fine, with no fever nor other symptoms.  The CDC says we can continue with our normal schedule as long as none of the three of us show symptoms.  I still called Sarah and postponed our meeting until Saturday.

I also notified the custodian and others at Central who popped in the office.  We kept our distance.   Our pastor, Won, is off on Mondays.  I e-mailed him all this and asked him if I should stay away tomorrow.  He said that he would stay home himself especially since I told him we were planning to be gone Wednesday and Thursday to West Virginia.  At Central I wear a mask any time someone else is in the office.

Tonight we both feel fine though, of course, we are concerned, especially for Jim and his family.  I know we’ll be in contact with him daily for a while.

Meanwhile, our President thinks he is well enough to be mixing in huge crowds.  This seems so unfair and stupid.

Here are today’s numbers:

October 12           Infected                   Died

World               38,035,349           1,085,317

US                       8,037,789              220,011

Virginia               159,570                  3,361

Augusta County          574                         7

I sure hope that last number in the chart stays that way…

October 13, 2020

We had good news from Jim today—the friend of his who was showing COVID symptoms has been tested and the results came back negative.  So now he’s out of quarantine and Lynn and I no longer need to be as worried.  Thank the Lord!

Today was another working day for me at Central.  I’m starting to feel comfortable with QuickBooks now.  I wrote another check, made another deposit, and spent most of the morning learning all about credit card purchases.  Then, in the afternoon, I decided to un-reconcile the May 31 reconciliation, the first one done by our former bookkeeper.  Once I did, it didn’t take me long to fix a few minor errors than have it reconciled with every penny accounted for.  Whew!  I then reconstructed the two monthly reports that are done every month, the Statement of Financial Position and the Statement of Activities.  Both came out well.  I had time to do the same for the June 30 bank statement.  When I get back to the office on Friday I plan to do the same for the July 31, August 31, and September 30 bank statements.  This will bring our major bank account, the general account, back to 100% compliance between the bank and QuickBooks. 

You’d think I’d be done but actually I then have to do the same for three more bank accounts:  the Money Market Account, Samaritan Fund, and Memorial Funds.  Fortunately, these three usually have one or two transactions per month so it won’t take me long to get them in shape, I hope.  Maybe by early next week I’ll all of the cleanup work behind me.

I have run into several transactions that I need to talk with our Pastor about and I need to learn more about two more QuickBooks and church accounting topics:  Payroll and Pastor’s Reimbursement Account.

Lynn didn’t have quite as busy a day but she still had a morning walk with her friend Ginny Bauman, lunch with her mother, and an afternoon IEP meeting that she interpreted for. 

I had a fun time this afternoon doing something I hadn’t done in ages—math problems.  Henry is taking the PSAT tomorrow and had a practice test he was working on.  He asked me to help him with a few problems.  So I picked him up on my way home from Central and we came to our house and worked on the problems.  We also had Freddie for a little over an hour.  He played well outside by himself. 

Tomorrow Lynn and I are going to Hawks Nest State Park for two days.  We’ve decided to leave early in the morning because we’re going to do something very unusual on our way—stop at ten Dollar General Stores.  All ten are on or near our three hour drive to Hawks Nest; we’ve got the route all mapped out.  This isn’t the first time we’ve done this kind of crazy trip.  Lynn loves shopping trips like this where she looks for bargains.  She’s looking for some Christmas signs now.  She found one sign in a local DG store and her friend Cheryl found a couple on a trip to North Carolina she took last week.  Heaven knows how many will be in the back of my car when we come back on Thursday!  Lynn will have fun shopping and I’ll have fun making her happy.  I’ll likely stay in the car and play Whirly Word.

I watched a show on CNN tonight with Anderson Cooper who interviewed Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York.  Cuomo has a theory about the upcoming election that is scary.  He says Trump knows he won’t win the election so his strategy now is to get Amy Coney Barrett approved in a hurry so that after he loses the election he can claim voter fraud.  Bill Barr will lead the effort to take this case to the Supreme Court, now packed with Trump appointees, who will rule that the election was fraudulent and the Presidency belongs to Trump.  That plot makes me sick.  Cuomo did add that his personal belief is that even if the scenario above starts to play out, the Supreme Court will have enough morality to rule against Trump.

The news on COVID-19 isn’t any better.  One of the vaccine companies, Johnson and Johnson, has now had to suspend its Phase 3 tests because one of the people testing this vaccine developed some kind of bad reaction to it.  Plus, a company working on antibody treatment had the same issue. 

ABC reported that Europe is undergoing a COVID crisis.  The World Health Organization said more than 2.2 million new cases of COVID-19 and 39,000 deaths from the disease have been reported across the globe in the past week, the highest number of reported cases so far in a single week since the start of the pandemic.  According to the WHO’s weekly epidemiological update published Monday, Europe registered the highest weekly incidence of COVID-19 cases of any region since the start of the pandemic, with almost 700,000 new infections reported. The region’s weekly incidence in cases and deaths increased by 34% and 16% respectively in comparison to the previous week. The United Kingdom, France, Russia and Spain account for over half of all new cases reported in the region.

Here are the numbers:

October 13           Infected                   Died

World               38,347,599           1,090,179

US                       8,089,724              220,827

Virginia               160,805                  3,372

Augusta County          576                         8

My wish from last night’s blog has already not come true.  Virginia had over 1,200 new cases in the past 24 hours and 11 more deaths including on in Augusta County.

We learned today that my favorite high school principal under whom I taught has died.  Charles Huffman hired me to teach at Fort Defiance in 1983, two years after we moved to Virginia.  I taught there until 1989.  Charlie treated me, Lynn, and our children wonderfully.  He stayed out of my classroom yet got me everything I asked for.  He hired Lynn in 1988 and she taught at Fort Defiance for twenty years, long after he had retired.  He was principal when all three of our children were at FDHS and was fair with all of them.  In February, before coronavirus hit, Lynn and I bumped into him and his family at a local restaurant where we were having breakfast.  His health was failing then; he was already blind.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity that morning to tell him he was my favorite principal.  I will miss him.

October 14, 2020

Today was certainly a change of pace for Lynn and me.  We were packed and on our way to West Virginia before 7:30 in the morning.  However, we managed to turn a 3 hour drive into nearly a six hour drive.  That’s because, as I wrote yesterday, we stopped at ten (yes, TEN!) Dollar General Stores.  We stopped in Greenville, Lexington, Clifton Forge, and Covington in Virginia and Caldwell, Lewisburg, Rupert, Rainelle, Lookout, and Ansted in West Virginia.  Lynn was only mildly successful in finding the bargains she was looking for.  I’ll bet she didn’t spend a total of $50 combined.

At most of the stores, the employees and customers both had on masks.  There were exceptions to this at some of the West Virginia stores, though. She didn’t stay long inside those.

The drive was very pretty with the fall foliage.  We avoided I-81 in Virginia by staying on US 11 nearly the entire way.  Then we got on I-64 which was a very pretty drive.  We ate lunch (yogurt) in the parking lot of the Rainelle Dollar General.  We got to Hawks Nest Lodge around 2:00.

We had reserved a Canyon View suite.  It turned out to be in the bottom floor of the building.  And our view consisted of construction workers just outside our window doing remodeling.  Worst, we had virtually no WiFi.  So we went back to the desk and got moved to a main floor room without the canyon view.  This saved us nearly $20.  And, we had a great WiFi connection.  Tonight I uploaded the 108 pictures I took today in about two minutes.  At home it would have taken me hours.

With our room finally the way we wanted it, we headed out to hike and take photos.  We were a little disappointed with the foliage.  On the way here we saw some trees that were bright yellow and red, but the views from the overlook weren’t so impressive.  Nonetheless, I got some nice pictures.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day.

This was the first we’d really walked much since Lynn broke her foot.  We did OK but quickly learned that we are now not in the shape we were prior to her accident.

We went to the two main overlooks at Hawks Nest then headed south about 15 miles to the New River Gorge Park.  We’d been there before, but still took lots of pictures as we walked to its overlook.  Then we drove a windy road to the bottom of the gorge where we could look up and see the bridge.  We’d seen it from this vantage point once before—when we rode a whitewater raft a few years ago.  It was another pretty drive.

We got to the other side of the bridge in Fayetteville, WV, around 4:30.  It was just in time to place our order at a restaurant we had found on the web, the Secret Sandwich Society.  The restaurant has an unusual name and a very eclectic menu.  We ended up splitting two items on the menu, pimento cheese fries and a chicken and waffle sandwich.  We enjoyed both dishes a lot.  And we had room for ice cream which we found just a five minute walk away in downtown Fayetteville at a ice cream shop named The Stache. 

I took 108 pictures and, as I mentioned above, got them uploaded to my Flickr site when we returned to the lodge shortly before dark.  They are good quality pics.

I was tired when we got back to the hotel room.   We watched some tv then called it a night.  It sure was nice to get away for a day.  This time last year we were heading to Italy.  Hawks Nest is a weak substitute but at least it got us out of our routine for a short while.  And I do believe we have been safe.  We’ve worn out masks inside and out today.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 14           Infected                   Died

World               38,724,026           1,096,199

US                       8,147,934              221,818

Virginia               161,610                  3,381

Augusta County          585                         8

October 15, 2020

We didn’t stay long at Hawks Nest this morning.  We did eat breakfast, which was included with the room, in their dining room.  Shortly afterward we headed back but on a slightly different route.  We opted to drive south through Beckley for two reasons—visit a couple more Dollar General stores and shop at the Jo Ann Fabric store there.  We actually went to four more Dollar General stores though Lynn didn’t find much.  But she was much more successful at the Jo Ann Fabric store, buying a bunch of $2 shirts that I’m sure she will someday put vinyl letting on plus some spray paint she’d been looking for.

I had received a text from Sarah Russell that no longer was she available on Saturday to help me with QuickBooks.  She wondered if I could meet her today from 3:00 – 5:00 so I said yes, which pushed us a little to get back in time.  But since we left Hawks Nest early we didn’t have much trouble getting home by 2:00 in plenty of time to get to Central to meet Sarah.

In the meantime, on the way we took a short detour to Grandview WV where there is a park with a very nice overlook of the New River as it does a horseshoe curve.  The park is appropriately named.   I took several more nice pictures, ending up with 139 pictures from this short trip.

As I mentioned above, we got home in time for me to meet Sarah and for Lynn to visit with her mother.  Sarah brought along her two very small girls (one born in June) who were very cooperative with us as she showed me how she had done certain things including the payroll and quarterly taxes.  I’ve now done these once but might need more hand holding in the future.  It isn’t so much that these are hard but they are crucial.

After Sarah and I finished up I came home so Lynn and I could eat.  Then we took a quick trip to Aldi’s so she could get a few groceries. 

As we drove home today we talked about possibly doing another of these quick get-aways in November.  We’ll have to see what the weather is like because we don’t want to do anything indoors yet due to coronavirus.  There are still some parks and/or nature areas in Virginia we want to visit such as the Channels area near Abingdon.  We briefly looked into Breaks Interstate Park but it is almost five hours away though still in Virginia.

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

October 15           Infected                   Died

World               39,145,377           1,102,299

US                       8,213,905              222,688

Virginia               162,941                  3,388

Augusta County          593                         8

Virginia had over 1,300 new cases today.  We certainly do not have a handle on this epidemic yet.  The number of new cases in the US is over 60,000.  Dr. Fauci says we need to get it down to 10,000 daily.

ABC says the virus is surging in record numbers.  Cases are rising in 38 states including.  Plus, a third person has been confirmed to have been re-infected.  That’s not good!   One piece of good news for me is that some research says type O blood people may not get COVID-19 as easy or have as bad of a case.  I’m pretty sure I have O+ blood.

October 16, 2020

Lynn got some bad news today.  There has been a positive case of COVID-19 at The Legacy where her mother is.  As a result, they are now disallowing Lynn, her sisters, and her brother to visit her mother in person.  On the one hand, you can’t blame the administrators there for wanting to lock down their facility tightly because they don’t want an epidemic there like that which has occurred in many nursing homes throughout the United States.  But on the other hand, her mother is at her end-of-life stage.  She is very weak and bedridden.  If there are no more positive cases among residents and staff for 14 days then they will allow the Hangers to return to seeing their mother.  I hope Mrs. Hanger can hold on for two more weeks; it would be very sad that her family had such an abrupt end to seeing her.

My brother is trying to work out a plan for our family at Thanksgiving.  Planning is so hard with COVID-19.  He is offering to treat everyone who comes to a Thanksgiving dinner at Ohio Inn in Athens.  They have a large room where families can sit socially distant.  And the Inn has plenty of rooms to it would be very convenient.  The last time our family had Thanksgiving in Ohio was 2008 (according to my pictures).  Lynn and I will go for sure; our kids and their families are still in the process of deciding if they’ll make the trip.

I spent another full day at Central.  I ran into another hornet’s nest.  This time it was the credit card statements.  Central has three credit cards, one for the pastor, one for the administrative assistant, and one for Staples for ordering online.  In QuickBooks, you are supposed to enter credit card purchases similar to way bills are entered.  Then, when the credit card bill comes, you are supposed to reconcile the bill against the QuickBooks records.  The last step in the reconciliation is that QuickBooks will print a check to the credit card company for the amount on the bill.  Well, for four months now this has not been done.  The bills have been paid but the accounts not reconciled.  It took me nearly all day to go back and enter the data correctly and reconcile two of the three credit card accounts.  I got stuck on the last one because there’s a missing statement. 

I had hoped that once I got all of the previous errors fixed it would only take me one day per week to do the bookkeeper’s work at Central.  This may prove to be true but it will be a long day.  There’s just so much to do:  bills, credit cards, payroll, taxes, pension and insurance for the pastor, deposits, keeping track of individual contributions, monthly reports for the Church Council, and reconciling three bank accounts and three credit cards. 

ABC News tonight reported that Trump said we are “rounding the turn on the virus” yet there are rising numbers of cases in 39 states.  There were over 63,000 cases in the past 24 hours—something which hasn’t happened since July.  There are more than 8,000,000 cases in the US now.  Trump’s right-hand man Chris Christie, who spent a week in the ICU with COVID-19, has now taken an about face and says he was wrong and should have been wearing a mask.  He said it hit him “like a freight train.”  Phizer says they may have a vaccine by the third week in November.  Hoping to woo some of the older vote, Trump promised seniors in Florida that they would be at the front of the line to get vaccinated.

Here are today’s numbers from worldometers.info:

October 16           Infected                   Died

World               39,542,503           1,108,153

US                       8,284,686              223,605

Virginia               164,124                  3,408

Augusta County          607                         8

The election is just nineteen days away.  I hope the polls are right.  They have Biden with a big lead over Trump. 

Lynn and I have started a tradition for Friday night dinner—hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike followed by ice cream at Smiley’s.  Good eating!

October 17, 2020

Today was a typical fall Saturday—sunny and cool.  It was good football weather and although WVU allowed 25% of its stadium to be full for today’s game against Kansas we weren’t about to attend.  After a very poor first quarter where WVU fell behind 10-0 they rallied for the next 38 points.  The final score was 38-17.  The Mountaineers are now 3-1 though they haven’t played the tough ones yet.

This morning I did my usual—spent it at Central working on the books.  I calculated today that I had to unreconciled then reconcile correctly a total of 35 months of records:  May, June, July, August, and September for seven accounts:  Main checking account, Samaritan funds, Memorial funds, Money Market account, Pastor’s credit card, administrative assistant’s credit card, and the Staples credit card.  After a busy morning working on this in which I discovered even more errors that had been made, I now have 29 of the 35 statements reconciled.  I hope to finish this task on Monday.  And when I finish this I still have several other items of unfinished business so it will be a busy week next week.

Lynn got news today that The Legacy had reversed its decision to not allow her and her brothers and sisters to see their mother.  So she was able to help Mrs. Hanger with dinner tonight.  Technically, Mrs. Hanger is still classified as “near end of life” though Lynn said she had a pretty good evening today.  She was coherent and ate OK.

Lynn had her own share of running around today but between her shopping and other obligations she fixed a huge pot of vegetable soup.  I love it!  We’ll likely be eating it for days but that’s fine by me.

Tonight we had another shopping excursion to local Dollar Generals.  Lynn wanted some cleaning supplies but each of the four stores we went to had bare shelves in the cleanser section.  We went to stores in Verona, Fishersville, and two in Waynesboro.  It was disappointing.

On today’s news is that ten states, including West Virginia, reported their highest single-day tallies of new COVID-19 infections on Friday and the country reported its highest one-day total since July, as experts say a dangerous fall surge of coronavirus infections is well underway.  More than 30 states have accumulated more new cases in the last week than they did the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  So, no surprise, we are still a long, long way from having this under control despite what our President says.

Here are today’s numbers:

October 17           Infected                   Died

World               39,936,817           1,114,182

US                       8,341,824              224,278

Virginia               165,238                  3,422

Augusta County          616                         8

Another day with more than a thousand new cases in Virginia. 

One thing I’ve been avoiding lately are our bathroom scales.  I know I have gained weight.  I can feel it.  I’ve just done little to no exercise and have not curtailed my eating.  I need to do better.

October 18, 2020

We had absolutely nothing on our calendar for today.  We messaged Jim about meeting him today but he said another day would suit him better.  So Lynn baked an apple pie and we had the Gutshall family over mid-afternoon.  It was a cool but sunny day with the temperature around 60o.  The pie was super delicious!

Things are still so abnormal at our house.  When the Gutshalls come over, no longer do we go inside and eat.  We just put food on the porch and usually eat at the Pergola, maintaining safe social distance outdoors.  With winter coming, we won’t be able to do this much longer.  I hope there are more advancements in vaccines and treatments before icy weather.

In order to make the apple pie we tried out her new apple peeler.  It took us a while to figure out how it worked and once we did we were disappointed that it peeled more than we would have manually but it really churned out the apples quickly.  We’ll get better at using it.

This morning was typical for a Sunday.  I attended Sunday School via Zoom and played the piano for it.  Then Lynn and I went to Staunton, our first of two trips there.  On the first trip we went by her friend Cheryl’s and her sister Kay’s for some quick errands then we went to Walmart for some shopping.  On the second trip Lynn visited with her mother.  I went along for the ride.

In the afternoon, before the Gutshalls came over, we found time to take a walk.  The weather was cool but still good for walking, something we hadn’t done much of in the past three months thanks to her broken foot.  We walked a little over a mile.  We need to get back to our walking routine, for sure.

ABC said 41 states are showing a rise in hospitalizations today, including Virginia.  There are great fears of a second wave.  Europe is experiencing this now. 

Here are today’s statistics:

October 18           Infected                   Died

World               40,244,914           1,117,902

US                       8,386,142              224,726

Virginia               166,138                  3,433

Augusta County          623                         8

Here’s another issue with getting old—sleep irregularities.  I get up at least once every night to go to the bathroom.  That’s not so bad because usually I go back to sleep fairly quickly.  But some nights I get painful leg cramps after only an hour or so of sleep.  I looked online to see the cause of these:  there is no known cause.  The story on leg cramps is that they are very common among older people, usually go away on their own in about ten minutes, are not a sign that something else is wrong, and, worst of all, there’s no known treatment.  I am in bed around 9:00 PM each night but some mornings I wake at 4:00 AM and never get back to a good sleep.  I’ll doze on and off until 5:00, then watch the clock until 6:00 when I get up.  In two weeks we switch from daylight savings time back to normal time which means then I’ll be waking up at 3:00 AM.  I’m not looking forward to that.

October 19, 2020

I can’t believe Trump attacked Dr. Fauci the way he did today.  He called him “a disaster” and called doctors “idiots.”  ABC news called his attack “bizarre.”  Fauci, like everyone else, said he wasn’t surprised Trump got coronavirus and this got Trump upset.  Trump said “if I listened to the scientists we would right now have a country in a massive depression.”  The overwhelming majority of Americans trust Fauci much more than Trump.  I know I do. 

It has been interesting to learn how many people are voting already.  More than 30 million Americans have voted already, more than five times the number in 2016.  More Democrats then Republicans have voted early according to ABC.

My day was another day devoted to Central UMC.  In addition to doing my bookkeeping work, I also did the weekly count of contributions with Sam Richardson first thing this morning and this afternoon got our weekly load of food for the Food Pantry from the Verona Food Bank.  I stayed to do more bookkeeping work until after 4:00.  I do see the light at the end of the tunnel; by the end of this week I should have the books in good shape.

Forty one states are seeing an increase in hospitalizations today.  Epidemiologists have a grim forecast for the next six weeks.  Four key battleground states — Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin — are seeing record-high novel coronavirus cases, sparking concerns the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction a little more than two weeks before Election Day.  As I wrote yesterday, Europe is in a severe second wave of infections.  Many countries are locking down tightly. 

My brother is coming for my 70th birthday in two weeks.  He asked today for recommendations for where he could stay.  I sent him four possibilities for hotels but also suggested that he could stay here, especially since our upstairs is uninhabited.  We had several text exchanges and I believe he is going to take us up on the offer to stay here. 

Lynn and I managed to get in a two mile walk this afternoon.  It was the most we’d walked since she broke her foot.  She said later that her foot was hurting some.  She reported that her mother slept through lunch today when she went to help her with it.  Her sister Kay said Mrs. Hanger did the same at dinner time. 

October 19           Infected                   Died

World               40,604,956           1,122,128

US                       8,446,300              225,168

Virginia               166,828                  3,457

Augusta County          624                         8

The good news is that Augusta County had only one additional case since yesterday.  I wish the news elsewhere was that good.  The US had over 60,000 new cases.

October 20, 2020

Today was a beautiful fall day with a high of 79o which is 15o higher than the average high.  It was sunny which made the fall colors stand out.  Lynn and I managed to walk two miles again today for the second day in a row.  We both got hot and tired.  We are clearly not in the kind of shape we were three months ago.

It was another church day for me.  I do think I’m getting the QuickBooks chores behind me now.  I have all of the bills paid, deposits recorded, and accounts reconciled with the exception of one credit card account which is missing its August statement.  I’ve asked Pastor Won to go online to get it.  We got good news today in that our PPP loan was officially forgiven; that is, the federal government paid it off.  This was the intent all along, I was just glad to get all the paperwork I submitted approved and get this behind us.  The money definitely helped our church.

I got home in time to meet Freddie’s bus.  I always enjoy talking with him after school.  As usual, we stayed outside until Ann came to pick him up.  I’m a little worried about what we’ll do when cold weather gets here.  I suppose I’ll open the basement door and have him come in and stay downstairs.  Ann doesn’t want him around us when he comes straight from school.  He wears a mask at school and on the bus.

Despite all of her craft projects, Lynn is a little bored now.  She isn’t doing as much work for the school system now.  All she had on her agenda today was a haircut and a Zoom meeting with the Staff-Parish committee at Central.  Her meeting was about picking candidates to interview for the secretary position which I hope will also develop into a secretary-treasurer position.  As I’ve written before, I plan to stay on as treasurer until the new person can be slowly trained and competent before I turn over QuickBooks.

ABC news tonight said that cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing, despite Trump’s saying we are “rounding the curve” on it.  There have been nearly one million new cases this month.  A quarter of a million Americans have died from it since it began.  Those hospitalized with it are five times more likely to die from it than from influenza.  Hospitalizations are on the rise in 42 states including Virginia.  Over the last five weeks, cases have been steadily increasing across the nation. The United States is currently averaging over 55,000 new cases a day — the highest that average has been since Aug. 5. New cases have surged by over 61% since Sept. 12. Meanwhile, current COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to hover between 36,000 and 37,000.  In the past week alone, the country has recorded nearly 386,000 new cases, including two days where there were over 60,000 cases reported — the highest daily figures since late July.

Here are today’s statistics:

October 20           Infected                   Died

World               40,988,477           1,128,228

US                       8,514,293              226,047

Virginia               167,754                  3,485

Augusta County          622                         8

Two more weeks until the big day.  November 3 is a big day for our country and for me, too.  Election Day will be on my 70th birthday.  That’s a milestone not many of my direct ancestors made it to.  I look forward to having fewer e-mails and texts from political candidates.  I get about thirty each day now.  None stay in my inbox very long.

I managed to get our grass cut today between the time I came home from Central and Freddie’s bus came.  The grass wasn’t so much of an issue as the leaves.  I don’t rake leaves, I cut them.  The yard looks much better now though it won’t last because the leaves are coming down now.

October 21, 2020

We had almost record heat today with a high of 79o.  Tomorrow’s forecast is for more of the same.  Lynn and I managed to walk two miles again today—the third day in a row—but this is still nothing compared to what we were walking before she broke her foot.  Sometimes when we walk she feels pain in her foot so we’re not going to push it.  She has an appointment with the orthopedist on November 2.

I now have almost everything checked off my “to do” list as the temporary treasurer at Central.  I hope to get in a routine where I only have to go in for a morning or two each week.  I came home today shortly after noon.

The head of President’s “Operation Warp Speed” said that every American could be vaccinated by next June.  I wish I could make the clock move faster.

Tonight was Zoom night.  We didn’t Zoom last week since we were in West Virginia at Hawk’s Nest.  The only ones who joined in were Thomas and Georgia.  They were acting silly but it was still good to see them and chat with them.

Today is Ann and Josh’s 20th anniversary.  We got them a cake and a pie plus a card with something green in it.  I am so proud of them and their family.  We have been very blessed to have had them in our lives.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 21           Infected                   Died

World               41,458,813           1,135,636

US                       8,581,674              227,349

Virginia               168,772                  3,515

Augusta County          633                         8

The numbers of new cases and deaths in both the US and Virginia are alarmingly higher than usual.  The US had over 55,000 new cases and 1,300 deaths in the past 24 hours; Virginia had 1,000 new cases and 30 more deaths.  We’re clearly not headed in the right direction….

October 22, 2020

Today I think I was able to finally get the General Fund of Central UMC in good shape through September.  I had to re-reconcile everything again all the way back to May but this time I think all is well.  I am very pleased with this.  Things should return to normal by the end of this month, I hope.

The news tonight was so much like it has been every night for the past six months—COVID horror stories.  CNN news said that more than 1,100 new deaths were reported Wednesday — the highest daily toll in more than a month, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  The 31 states are reporting at least 10% more new Covid-19 cases this week compared to last week: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.  Virginia is reportedly holding steady.   Florida, which recently reopened many businesses to full capacity but with no mask requirements, reported its highest single-day increase of new cases in more than two months: 5,557 on Thursday. The statewide Covid-19 death toll rose to 16,470.  Oklahoma reported a record-high 1,628 new cases Thursday, the highest daily number of new cases since the pandemic began.  Ohio broke its record Wednesday and again Thursday, with more than 2,400 new infections reported. “Of the 10 highest days of new cases reported, eight have occurred in the past nine days,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.  And in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that hospitalizations were the highest they have been in three months.

The FDA officially approved remdesivir for coronavirus cases today.  The drug will be used for Covid-19 patients at least 12 years old and requiring hospitalization, Gilead said.  Remdesivir is now the first and only fully approved treatment in the U.S. for Covid-19, which has infected more than 41.3 million people worldwide and killed more than 1 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

This news blurb from ABC news is why I have chosen to not attend Central’s Sunday morning worship services:  At least two people are dead, four hospitalized and at least 68 positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed following a weeklong convocation event at a church in North Carolina.

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 22           Infected                   Died

World               41,959,761           1,142,071

US                       8,654,301              228,292

Virginia               170,104                  3,524

Augusta County          638                         8

Another 1,300+ new cases in Virginia.  Another 900 more deaths in the US.  I wish I had something else to write about.

Tonight was the final debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.  I’ll post comments about it tomorrow; it starts at 9:00 and I hope to watch it in bed.  I just hope Biden can weather Trump’s bullying and emerges unscathed.  I can’t imagine that this debate would change anyone’s mind.

Lynn and I didn’t walk any today.  Her foot had been bothering her some.  We did make a trip to Smiley’s for ice cream, though.

October 23, 2020

We did stay up for the debate last night.  It was much more civil than the first one.  We still think Biden got the upper hand although I don’t really think it matters because 50 million Americans have already voted and the rest probably have their minds made up.  It was interesting today to see an article on ABC news which fact-checked the comments the two made.  No surprise, the number of fallacious claims from Trump’s mouth were about triple those from Biden’s. 

We had a conversation in the car today about Trump supporters.  I believe that the only people who could possibly be in his camp are mutimillionaires who don’t want their taxes raised, outright racists because they like the hate that Trump spews, or avowed anti-abortionists.  Why in the world would others support him?  Perhaps it is just plain ignorance—a Facebook article tonight reported that 27% of those surveyed responded NO to the question “should American youth be taught Arabic numbers in school?”  Of course, Arabic numbers are the very numbers that all of us use.  So 27% must think that their kids should not be taught about numbers. 

On the other hand, if you’re a Biden supporter you believe in healthcare for everyone, treating immigrants with respect, a woman’s right to choose, taxing the rich instead of the middle class, and taking care of the environment.  Besides the rich, bigots, and pro-birthers who wouldn’t want these things?  I use the term pro-birthers instead of pro-lifers because they focus only on having the fetus making it to birth, not caring for the children as they age.  The same people who fight against abortion put up with kids being dumped in cages.  This week we learned that the parents of 500 of the kids separated from them at the border now can’t be located.  What inhumanity!

Lynn had another all-day Zoom training session about trauma sponsored by Albemarle County Schools.  Despite staring at the computer all day she enjoyed the training, she said.  Plus, she is getting paid for it.

While she was doing her Zoom training, I spent the morning at Central again.  Today I got the last of my “to do” items checked off—reconciling the Pastor’s credit card.  I also fixed a few minor items on the report called Statement of Financial Position which I’ll be sharing with other members of the Finance Committee when we meet via Zoom on Tuesday evening.  This report is something that I am supposed to share with them each month but I have deliberately not shared the last several months’ reports because I knew they were laden with errors.  This one should be correct.

I am comfortable with most QuickBooks tasks now:  check writing, deposits, credit cards, bank reconciliations, investment income, and financial statements.  I am still shaky with payroll and taxes. 

Jim texted us that he is going to come tomorrow morning.  He has made two new wooden seats for our seesaw.  His boys will probably be the two most likely to use it.  He’s going to bring them and we’ll install them in the morning; the old seats rotted out.

After her trauma training, Lynn went to visit with her mother again today.  Mrs. Hanger sleeps 95% of the time though she did exchange a few sentences with Lynn today.  She eats very little.

I also exchanged a lot of texts with my brother today.  He is excited about making plans for Thanksgiving which he is hosting in Athens.  He has signed a contract with Ohio University Inn for our family dinner to be prepared.  We’ll be staying there, too.  So far, twelve of us are going:  the Gutshalls, the Foys, Lynn, and me. 

My sister was on the text as well.  She said “I sat in the booth next to a friend whose husband tested positive two days later. She subsequently also got Covid. I have quarantined the last two weeks and I am fine.! Whew!”  That’s scary.  She said her friends are doing OK now.

I didn’t say this to her but I think I have in elsewhere in this blog.  Sometimes I feel like we’re hiding behind a tree from COVID-19 and it keeps getting closer and closer to us.  I’m sure Mary Katherine feels that way.

We were scheduled to have a Covenant Group meeting this coming Sunday night at the Bushman’s house.  The weather forecast is for much colder and rainy so tonight Bill sent out a note that they would like for the group to meet indoors, socially distant.  Still, I replied to him that Lynn and I wouldn’t be coming because we are avoiding all group meetings indoors.  We both go indoors at places outside of our home.  I go to Central and Lynn goes to dollar and grocery stores.  But in all cases we are not around others for more than a couple of minutes.  At Central I almost always work alone in the office.  Visitors may pass through but they never stay.  This is also why we’re not attending Sunday morning worship services.  I believe our sanctuary is large enough that we could certainly be socially distant.  Plus, Central just installed a device that treats all air circulated with ultraviolet rays.  But caution is the name of the game.

We repeated what is now a tradition today—getting hamburgers for supper from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike.  We always get the same—Lynn gets a jalapeño burger and I get a Philly cheesesteak burger. 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

October 23           Infected                   Died

World               42,461,362           1,148,694

US                       8,745,336              229,280

Virginia               171,284                  3,539

Augusta County          647                         8

Wow—over 90,000 new cases in the US. Over 1,100 new cases in Virginia.  This is so repetitive. 

October 24, 2020

Jim paid us a nice visit this morning.  He came up for two reasons, to replace the seats on our seesaw and to check out/assemble a bicycle that was shipped here for Coen.  Actually he had two bikes shipped here, one from Target and another from Amazon (I believe).  He wanted the one from Amazon but it was listed as having been opened so, to be sure, he ordered one from Target.  It turns out that the Amazon bike, a Schwinn, was fine.  He assembled it and loaded them both up to take.  He’ll return the one to Target.

He had made two nice wooden seats for the seesaw.  As I wrote yesterday, the old ones had rotted and were difficult to take off.  I ended up using a hack saw to remove three of the rusted bolts and Jim used his angle grinder to get the fourth off.   Then he put his new wooden seats on and attached the foam and the covers.  They’re as good as new!

He also brought Lynn a present.  Lynn loves old hardwood handled knives like her Dad and Mom used.  We had one here for years but it eventually fell apart.  Jim used the lathe in his school’s technology section and made her a new handle for it.  It really looks great.  Lynn was thrilled.

He also rode his zero turn mower around in our yard, cutting some of the many leaves that had fallen in the past few days. 

What a good son!  We are so lucky to have him and all of our family.

I decided to use my blower to clean out our lower gutters.  When I plugged the blower into the outlet on our porch, the circuit lost power.  Strangely, the breaker didn’t flip.  This was the same circuit that we’ve had trouble with in the past.  A “friend of a friend” came a few months ago and installed a replacement breaker in the box but I’m convinced it was defective along with the outlet.  The outlet must be bad since that’s what caused this problem.  And the breaker must be bad because it didn’t flip.  I e-mailed brother Butch all about this situation and he said he would be happy to try to get it all remedied when he comes in just ten days.  We can live without that outlet (along with our exterior lights) until then, for sure.

Tonight Lynn and I went opposite directions.  She went south to visit with her mother while I headed north to grab pizza at our favorite pizza shop, Vito’s Pizza Pie in Penn Laird.  The pizza was delicious and her Mom was OK tonight.

ABC news had these not-good statistics today:  The U.S. reported 428,793 new cases of the coronavirus in the week of Oct. 16 to Oct. 22 — a 14.3% increase from the previous week, the memo said.  There were 5,530 deaths recorded from Oct. 16 to Oct. 22, marking a 15.1% increase in new deaths compared with the previous week, according to the memo.  The national test-positivity rate increased from 5.1% to 5.9% in week-to-week comparisons.  Across the country, 24% of hospitals have more than 80% of their ICU beds filled. That number was 17 to 18% during the summertime peak.  In Florida, new cases are up 30% among high school students compared to two weeks ago, and up 42% among young adults ages 18 to 24, the memo said.  In Kentucky, new deaths have been increasing over the last two weeks. Kentucky reported its second-highest daily fatality count on Wednesday, the memo said.

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

October 24           Infected                   Died

World               42,889,359           1,153,873

US                       8,819,813              230,010

Virginia               172,372                  3,578

Augusta County          653                         8

There were almost 75,000 new cases in the US in the last 24 hours.  Another day with more than 1,000 in Virginia.

I spent the evening watching WVU play Texas Tech in football.  Watching the Mountaineers is not easy—they came into the game 3-1 but still had played poorly at times.  Tonight was no different.  Against a 1-3 Texas Tech team they hardly looked like the favorite in the first half, falling behind 20-13.   In the second half they came back to tie the score 27-27 and had the ball ready to take the lead but then gave it away when a receiver fumbled and Texas Tech picked up the fumble and ran in it for a touchdown.  The WVU receivers are terrible this year, dropping pass after pass.  As much as I love the Mountaineers, they are hard to watch. 

October 25, 2020

We watch NBC news on Sunday mornings.  NBC reported that Friday’s number of COVID-19 cases set a US record with over 90,000 new cases and Saturday had almost 80,000.  This was the biggest 48 hour jump since the pandemic began.  They said states which were showing progress were now back in trouble.  They said by the end of February there will be over a half million deaths in the US unless mask wearing is mandated.

Today was a cold, rainy Sunday.  The only thing on either of our schedules was Sunday School this morning from 9:00 – 10:00.  After that, Lynn and I went to Staunton to do a few errands then to her Mom’s for lunch.  Her Mom was OK again today.

In the afternoon we both just some minor chores around the house.  We hung a picture over Kay’s bed upstairs that had been in her parents’ home.  It is a picture of her grandfather Blair Bowman Hanger and her great aunt, Georgie.

I worked some on the agenda for the Central Finance Committee meeting which will now be Tuesday evening at 6:00, via Zoom. 

After dinner this evening we went to the Dollar Tree store in Dayton then stopped for ice cream at Smiley’s. 

I’m nearing 300 single spaced pages in this blog.  It has been a daily habit for me for the past 188 days and though I know few, if anyone, will ever read this, it has been therapeutic for me to do it.   Today I actually found one tiny good advantage of doing it.  I was checking on my online medical records at mychart.carilionclinic.org because I wanted to have one of my prescriptions renewed but at a different pharmacy.  I’ve been using Walgreens in Verona for my prescriptions but recently found out that they are no longer a preferred pharmacy in the Medicare drug plan I have with Wellcare whereas Kroger is a preferred pharmacy this year and will be one next, too.  I stand to save several dollars by having my prescriptions filled in a preferred pharmacy.  Anyway, while I was going online to request this prescription refill, I noticed a reminder that said I should get a flu shot ASAP.  Lynn and I got our flu shots over a month ago but apparently Walgreens never told Carilion that I had mine.  So I wanted to post a note on mychart.carilionclinic.org but I also wanted to tell them when and where I got the shot.  When was that?  Well, I quickly did a search for “flu shot” on this 291 page Word document and found that we had our shots on September 17.

Lynn is already watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark TV station.  The movies are so soapy and most all have the same theme.  There’s always a small town with a Christmas festival.  There’s usually an attractive young man or woman who grew up in the town and an equally attractive member of the opposite sex who comes to town.  There are sometimes two suitors for the pretty woman, one who is a very successful businessman and the other who loves nature, Christmas, and the simple life.  Guess which one ends up with the girl?

Mask wearing has definitely improved on our area.  Lynn goes to almost as many stores now as she did pre-pandemic.  Of course, she always wears her mask and, for the most part, everyone else is doing the same when inside a store.  This is in sharp contrast to the pictures I see on television where restaurants, parties, bars, churches, political rallies, and ball games are full of people standing shoulder to shoulder with no masks.  We did pass one church this evening with what seemed like hundreds of cars in the parking lot.  There’s no way this church could have social distancing.

We don’t wear masks when we’re on our property, driving in our cars, or walking in the neighborhood.  Some people do but we don’t feel like it’s necessary in those settings.  When I’m at Central working on the finances, I am by myself in the office so I don’t wear a mask.  If anyone walks in the door (a rare event), I slip mine on to talk.

Here are today’s coronavirus stats:

October 25           Infected                   Died

World               43,319,526           1,158,760

US                       8,888,056              230,497

Virginia               173,371                  3,579

Augusta County          654                         8

Five Mike Pence aides have now come down with COVID-19 yet he refuses to quarantine.  He is supposed to be the one in charge of the coronavirus task force!  Doctors on CNN news tonight blasted him for not self-quarantining.  The President continues to downplay the pandemic.  He says our high numbers are the result of all the testing that is done.  The hospitals beg to differ.  ABC news said today that the seven-day average for U.S. newly reported deaths has increased throughout the month, going from 703 on Oct. 2 to 807 on Oct. 24.  That didn’t happen because more people are getting tested.  Johns Hopkins University has fewer reported deaths than worldometers.org which I what I report each day.  But Johns Hopkins reported that there were 225,111 COVID-19 related deaths across the country as of Sunday afternoon.  By comparison, there were 291,557 American soldiers killed in battle during World War II, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  I wonder if, in the middle of World War II, what would have happened if FDR would have downplayed its significance and said that it would all just go away soon.

This time a year ago we were in Italy.  Today Italy’s leader imposed at least a month of new restrictions across the country Sunday to fight rising coronavirus infections, shutting down gyms, pools and movie theaters, putting an early curfew on cafes and restaurants and mandating that people keep wearing masks outdoors.  Italy has over a half million cases and, of course, was the first country hit hard in Europe.  There have been over 37,000 death in Italy since the start.  So sad!

South Korea has over 51,000,000 people.  As of today they have under 500 deaths.  The United States has over 328,000,000 people.  As of today we have well over 225,000 deaths.  Their people live in very crowded conditions.   Ours are spread out over 50 states.   New Zealand has around 5 million people yet only 25 deaths due to COVID-19.  Why have these countries been so successful with this virus and we have been so unsuccessful?  The answer is simple:  leadership.

October 26, 2020

Lynn has been having a tough time with the student she tutors in Waynesboro with the Migrant Education Program.  He is a high school junior who lives with his father.  Her job is basically to help him with his schoolwork but the issue is he hasn’t been attending school.  In Waynesboro all high school is currently virtual which means he is supposed to log in and “attend” class via Zoom or something similar but he has not been doing so.  His teachers are in contact with Lynn so she is well aware of this.  He doesn’t answer the phone when she calls or texts.  One of his teachers notified social services of his situation so Lynn agreed to meet the social worker at his house this morning.  They didn’t notify him in advance that they were coming.  I had to count at Central first thing but I met up and rode with her to Waynesboro.  It is never a safe thing or her to go to a students’ house by herself so I wanted to ride along.

We got to his house shortly after 10:00.  The social worker was scheduled to come at 10:30 and Lynn also made arrangements to Zoom with her Migrant Education supervisor in Albemarle County at 10:30 so all three adults would be in on the conversation.  The issue was that when we got to his house, she both called and texted but he didn’t reply to either. 

The social worker got here at 10:20 so they knocked on his door.  He answered and they brought him outside to talk.  One of the things they wanted to tell him is that Waynesboro was starting to allow some students to come to the high school two days a week and that he would be required to do so.  His teachers had tried to notify him of this but likewise had no response back.

Lynn has worked with this student for almost two years now.  Prior to COVID-19, he was regular in his school attendance and was actually doing well.  They would meet at the Waynesboro Public Library each week and go over his school assignments.

Lynn has worked with Migrant Education for about fifteen years now, tutoring at least one student every semester.  In fact, this is what prompted her to move from teaching high school Spanish to elementary school English Language Learners (aka ESL).  After twenty years of teaching high school Spanish she was somewhat burned out but needed ten more years of teaching to get full retirement.  She found the answer when she left Fort Defiance High School to go to Lacey Spring Elementary School in 2007.  She had ten really good and satisfying work at Lacey Spring then at Cub Run Elementary School in Rockingham County.  She developed lots of close contacts with the students she tutored, especially Nathan and Emily whom she first met over a decade ago.  They are somewhat adopted grandchildren of ours and will be coming to our house this Wednesday to celebrate Nathan’s tenth birthday. 

The conversation with her student lasted around a half hour.  She said they got everything straight and he should be attending at Waynesboro High tomorrow.  For sure, she’ll be checking on him.  She made an appointment to work with him outside his house Wednesday afternoon.  She seemed pleased that they had met with him and have a plan for moving forward.

This afternoon I was able to return to Central and finish all of my outstanding jobs with CUMC’s finance.  We have a finance committee meeting tomorrow evening via Zoom so I wanted to have everything in good shape prior to the meeting.

The White House today claims that Mike Pence is an “essential worker” and therefore doesn’t have to abide by the CDC’s recommendation about quarantine.  With multiple close associates testing positive, it is a no brainer to everyone with common sense that Pence should be staying away from others.  On the contrary, he is on the campaign trail trying to generate more support for a corrupt President.  And this is the same guy in charge of the coronavirus task force…

The President mocks the news about COVID-19 even though infection records keep being set in state after state. His own chief of staff last night said they could not control it.  I will be SO glad when Donald Trump is history.

Another set of records being set is the number of Americans voting early.  More than 62 million people have already voted.  According to ABC, most early voters are Republican.  Trump is banking on a huge turnout on election day.  Wouldn’t it be fitting if many can’t vote on November 3 because they’re in quarantine due to COVID-19?

With so many people voting early and some states not allowing ballots to be opened or counted until November 3, it is certainly possible that these states will not know who wins them until several days afterwards.  Some of these are crucial states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The graphs of coronavirus cases and deaths are both still increasing over the recent months.  You would think that by now we could have a better handle on this but it is clearly not the case.

Tonight we went on another short wild goose chase looking for some craft supplies for Lynn.  We went to a Dollar Tree in Fishersville, then one in Waynesboro.  Neither had the Christmas bells she was looking for.  We had nothing else to do so it wasn’t so bad.  Plus, Lynn had some coupons for a free junior Frostie at the Verona Wendy’s for each of us.

Republicans are rejoicing tonight because it looks like Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed tonight as the next Supreme Court Justice.  Given what the Republicans did to Barack Obama’s nomination of Merritt Garland four years ago, this is hypocrisy to its highest level.  She will be the first justice ever confirmed so close to an election day.  “Let the people decide” the Republican Senators cried in 2016 as they blocked Obama’s nomination.  Now their message is “Let the current Senate with a Republican majority decide.”  I’ve written before about how angry this has made me. 

Here are today’s COVID-19 figures:

October 26           Infected                   Died

World               43,761,833           1,164,184

US                       8,959,376              231,026

Virginia               174,275                  3,581

Augusta County          659                         8

Virginia only showed two new deaths in the past 24 hours.  Of course, this could just be a data entry mistake.  The other statistics are not good.  The US showed another 60,000+ infections.

October 27, 2020

I forgot to mention yesterday how good Lynn looked.  She dressed up because she was going to Waynesboro to meet with her student and the Waynesboro City Schools’ social worker.  I commented about how good she looked and she replied that it was the first time since the pandemic hit that she had worn a dress!  She had gone well over 200 days without dressing up.  This is sad and just points out how limited we’ve been in what we’ve done since March. 

Connie Rohrer was scheduled to clean our house today so we decided to vacate while she was here this morning.  We had a rather long list of groceries to get at Costco, especially for Central UMC, so we left in time to be there during their senior hour, 9:00 – 10:00.  After we got the items, we stopped by home briefly then I went to Central to drop them off while Lynn went to her Mom’s for lunch.

Lynn was happy to find out that the student she tutors in Waynesboro did go to school today.  The social worker e-mailed her.  Now he just needs to make this habitual.

I spent a good bit of time preparing for two meetings I had tonight—CUMC Finance Committee at 6:00 and Church Council at 7:00.  I’m the chairman of the former committee and secretary of the latter.  I always like to pre-prepare the minutes as best I can so that as soon as the meeting is over I can send the minutes out.  It helps that some people e-mail their reports before the meeting.

The meetings went well and each ended a little early.

I will be so happy a week from tonight, especially if Biden wins.  I am tired of the e-mails, texts, commercials, and news programs.  I need no more convincing that Trump is an evil, incompetent man.  If he does win this election I will have lost tremendous faith in humanity.  Tonight I believe that wisdom and science will prevail and Biden will win in a landslide.  In this part of Virginia, many more yards have Trump signs than Biden.  It makes me think that I am surrounded by idiots.

The news about coronavirus is no different—cases are still rising everywhere but people are tired of hearing about it.  Such a shame because it is clearly not under control:

October 27           Infected                   Died

World               44,235,091           1,171,274

US                       9,038,030              232,084

Virginia               175,409                  3,600

Augusta County          664                         9

Just look at these numbers—almost 80,000 new cases in America and 1,000 more deaths.  In Virginia, another 1,200 new cases and 19 more deaths including one more in Augusta County.  Does anyone care?

October 28, 2020

Today was another dry, pleasant autumn day.  Lynn and I were able to get in a walk today, something we haven’t been regular at now compared to the time before her broken foot.  We just walked our two mile hike on Leaport Road but it was nice. 

She went to Waynesboro to work with her Migrant Education student and I went to Central to do some bookkeeping tasks.  The Staff Parish Committee is almost to the point of hiring a new administrative assistant so my work there will be changing.  I’ll move from being bookkeeper to bookkeeper teacher.   There are several parts of the job that I’m not confident enough about to teach yet.

This is somewhat like my background in math.  There are multiple levels of understanding something.  The lowest level is to be able to mimic what someone else has shown you.   So when you learned to factor x2 + 5x + 6 as (x + 3)(x +2) you could use that example to enable you to factor x2 + 7x + 12.  A higher level of understanding is to be able to teach this skill to someone else.  In order to do this job, you have to understand the concept much better.  For example, you realize that you can’t factor x2 + 5x + 3.  Even better, you might have a graphical image of factoring where you visualize factoring as creating a rectangle with the two factors as dimensions of the two sides of the rectangle.  Using my examples above, you would create a rectangle with one side x + 3 and another side x + 2 and show that this rectangle has the area x2 + 5x + 6.

I understand pretty well the concepts of check writing, deposits, managing investment income, managing online income, generating reports, tracking credit card purchases, tracking individual giving records, and reconciling accounts.  I am not so confident yet in payroll, taxes, or paying apportionments.  My task today was to make my first apportionment payment.  It turned out to be rather easy because all I had to do was log in to an online portal and specify how much we were going to pay.  The money is then automatically taken out of our checking account.  Then I just had to document it in QuickBooks which was easy.

We won’t be making a payroll until the second week in November so I’ve got some time to learn more about it.  I did the current payroll but it was with our former bookkeeper, Sarah, helping me. 

This afternoon we had company.  Our “adopted” family of Nathan and Emily with their parents Elizabeth and Gilberto came over.  They had not seen our pergola and the weather was nice.  Plus, we had missed Nathan’s 10th birthday last Saturday so Lynn bought a cake and had presents for both children.  We were able to talk and swing outside for over an hour.  I should note that much of the talk was not understandable to me because Lynn and Elizabeth tend to talk in Spanish.  Their children are doing very, very well in school now.  Emily is in the sixth grade and Nathan the fourth.

This evening we had just enough time to eat dinner, run to Smiley’s for ice cream, and get back in time to Zoom with our family.  The Gutshalls weren’t able to join us; Betsy has dancing on Wednesday nights and the internet connection at their house isn’t good.  But Jim and boys plus Kay, Thomas, and Georgia joined Lynn and me.  The kids helped make the conversations very lively.  It was a lot of fun. 

A CDC tweet today said “As of October 25, #COVID19 cases continue to increase nationwide. Average daily cases in the previous 7-days increased 26% from the previous 7 days.”  Here are the statistics from worldometers.info:

October 28           Infected                   Died

World               44,739,124           1,178,514

US                       9,118,514              233,121

Virginia               176,754                  3,616

Augusta County          679                         9

More of the same…another thousand new deaths in the United States and well over a thousand new cases in Virginia.

October 29, 2020

I’m afraid our beautiful, sunny, dry autumn weather is history.  Today was wet and the next two days are predicted to be cold.  Plus, we return to standard time this coming Saturday evening which will mean it will be dark very early.  Right now it gets dark shortly after 6:00.  Next week this will be 5:00!

Central had need of some volunteers to help move a new refrigerator into the building this morning so I volunteered then stayed at CUMC to work a little with the books.  Meanwhile, Lynn went to see her mother then went to Walmart.  After I finished at Central, I went to Electric Connection in Staunton to buy two GFI receptacles and a replacement breaker.  Butch had told me we would need these when he comes next week.  Lowe’s didn’t have any GFI receptacles so I thought I’d try the Electric Connection.  I also went to Kroger to pick up a prescription.

My trip to the Electric Connection turned out better than I had thought it would.  The salesperson double checked with me to make sure I was getting the right equipment, then, as he rang up the purchase, he asked, “Did you teach math at Fort Defiance High School?”  Yes, I replied, and asked him his name.  It turns out that I remembered him pretty well.  He was very complimentary of my teaching, saying that he had gone on to get a degree in Electrical Engineering from Old Dominion University.  He said that he had two really good math instructors in his past, a professor at ODU and me.  I was humbled.

Lynn had a busy time this afternoon.  She had a Zoom IEP meeting with a parent in Rockingham County Public Schools which lasted an hour.  Then she fixed a delicious dinner.  After dinner, she had a Central Staff Parish Meeting via Zoom.  The purpose of her meeting was to decide about a replacement for our administrative assistant.  The committee did make a decision so soon I will become a QuickBooks teacher!

I’ve been planning to rewrite an abbreviated manual that Sarah Russell had made for the bookkeeper’s duties.  I’d like to make it much more detailed including screen shots that I’ve been making.

Five days to go before Election Day!  Trump boasted today about record growth in the Gross National Product over the last quarter.  The truth is, the job crisis is far from over.  Over 750,000 applied for unemployment just last week.  We still are ten million jobs below where we were before the pandemic hit. 

In the news tonight it was announced that a record of more than 85,000 new cases of COVID-19 had been identified in the United States in the past 24 hours.  Johns Hopkins said today that an American tests positive every 1.2 seconds and one dies every 107 seconds. 

Trump continued to have super-spreader rallies today in Florida.  That state is a crucial one for both candidates and today the polling shows the race is neck-and-neck. 

Here are today’s numbers:

October 29           Infected                   Died

World               45,278,643           1,185,130

US                       9,202,191              234,079

Virginia               178,183                  3,636

Augusta County          687                         9

I can copy and paste this sentence almost every day:  1,000 new deaths in the US and 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  As noted in the Johns Hopkins data earlier in post, the US number of cases increased by around 85,000 from the previous day.  Virginia actually had over 1,300 new cases. 

October 30, 2020

This election is so different from any I’ve experienced.  I’ve been through twelve Presidential elections.  In all previous ones, I’ve likely supported candidates many of my relatives and friends did not.  But we got along and didn’t let the election divide us.  True, we didn’t have social media when Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford but even if we did I don’t think we’d have seen the vitriol that has accompanied this year’s race.  Social media didn’t cause this.  Donald Trump did.  He is absolutely the most divisive leader I’ve ever experienced.  He doesn’t just divide Republicans and Democrats, he divides white and blacks, residents and immigrants, rich and middle class, police and public, and those who own and detest guns.  Previously, I was in half of each of those groups and got along fine with the other half.  Trump changed that.  I perceived previous elections being based on ideological differences.  This one is based on non-ideological differences:  differences in skin color, 401K status, and coronavirus spread.  I don’t want four more years of divisiveness.  Very reluctantly, I can perhaps even put back my rage at the way the Republicans handled the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett versus the way they handled Merritt Garland’s nomination.  I don’t believe Barrett is evil; I believe Trump is.  I can’t stand four more years of his lies, income tax coverups, nepotism, disregard for science, narcissism, and racism.  I didn’t vote for or particularly like Reagan or the Bushes but they didn’t destroy the America I enjoyed.  Trump did. 

Despite the cold weather, Lynn still welcomed her two friends Cheryl Wright and Cheryl Kent to an outside get-together this morning.  I went to Central where I moved my “office” into a room across the hall from the main office since the new administrative assistant will start on Monday and I wanted to be socially distant.  The treasurer’s computer connects to the network via WiFi so it didn’t really matter where I moved to as long as I could get it powered up.

By the time I got back, Lynn was ready to go.  I know we’re supposed to hunker down in these times but that just isn’t in Lynn’s blood.  She is safe when she goes out—always wears her mask, wipes her hands with sanitizer when she gets back in the car, and doesn’t spend long in stores.  But she still goes and goes and goes.  Today she went to the Rockingham County Public Schools offices to turn in monthly timesheets then to a Dollar Tree in Dayton.  She didn’t find the Christmas bells she wanted at that Dollar Tree so she called the one in Timberville and was excited to find out they had them.  So we then made a trip to Timberville then got home just in time to take off again, this time to Staunton where she stopped by her sister Kay’s house, then Cheryl Kent’s house, then to see her mother.  In the meantime, I went to Kroger to pick up a prescription.  We then drove straight to the Old Schoolhouse food truck in Weyers Cave for our weekly Friday night hamburgers.  So much for hunkering down!

We’re eight months into the coronavirus pandemic.  You’d think that by now this plague would have been put under control.  Would you believe that the United States set a record for the most infections in the past 24 hours?  More than 92,600 new cases!  Trump’s son said last night, “Why are they talking about deaths?  They’re almost nothing.”  Well, nothing today was 961 according to ABC news. 

Worldometers.info had even higher numbers, showing the US with more than 100,000 new cases overnight:

October 30           Infected                   Died

World               45,854,042           1,192,592

US                       9,304,510              235,092

Virginia               179,639                  3,643

Augusta County          701                         9

Virginia’s counts were way up again, too.  What’s puzzling is that I know people have gotten better about mask wearing.  Perhaps our social distancing isn’t what it should be. 

A year ago we were in Italy.  Today we got a pleasant reminder of that—Sandy Porterfield surprised us by sending a jigsaw puzzle of Cinque-Terre, Italy, one of the most beautiful places we visited. 

I’ve been reviewing our options for Medicare Part D for 2021.  Part D is the prescription drug plan which people subscribe to.  It can be changed every year.  We learned the hard way what happens if you don’t.  Lynn, who almost never has a prescription, has been with a Humana plan for years.  It is automatically drafted from our checking account.  Neither of us noticed that over the past couple of years the rates have doubled then tripled.  She currently pays over $50 per month for a service she almost never uses.  Meanwhile, I switched my plan to Wellcare which only costs about $14 per month.  But in doing our research for the upcoming year I’ve found a plan with Aetna that will cost us only $7.30 per month, each, a substantial savings.  I talked to an agent at Aetna today and got my questions answered.  And, the pharmacist at Kroger, where I picked up my prescription this afternoon, told me they had no trouble with this Aetna plan.  We have until early December to switch our plans and we will certainly do so.  The government provides an easy way to comparison-shop at medicare.gov where you enter your current prescriptions and the drugstores you want to use.  The website then shows you the anticipated annual costs.

October 31, 2020

I’ve stated in previous postings that I first write this in MS Word then copy and paste the new day’s writing onto my website.  According to Word, the page I’m writing on now is the 300th single spaced page I’ve done since April 20.

After an easy morning with just the weekly garbage to take care of, I settled in for a noon football game between my beloved Mountaineers and Kansas State.  Kansas State came into Morgantown with a 4-1 record ranked #16 in the US.  On any other year Lynn and I would have been in the stands for this one.  However, we would have had to be bundled up because the kickoff temperature was 43o in Morgantown.  Those metal bleachers would have been quite cold.

The first quarter had me screaming.  WVU intercepted early but then missed a field goal in what should have given them an early lead.  They did a good job of holding Kansas State to a field goal when K-State had first and goal on the three.  Then West Virginia had a good drive that got them first and goal from the one.  As has been the case so often, they blew it from there and had to settle for a field goal.  Terrible!

The second quarter was much better with the Mounties taking a 24-10 lead at halftime.  The second half was all Mountaineers.  The defense dominated the Wildcats.  The final score was 37-10, the best win of the season for WVU. 

Lynn made a special caramel apple dump cake for this weekend.  Since today was Halloween and there was no trick-or-treating due to COVID-19, she invited the Gutshalls to come over and enjoy some of it.  Plus, we prepared some treat bags with candy for each child.  It was only 50o outside but still we ate the delicious cake on the porch.

Jim sent a picture of Faron and Coen dressed for Halloween and Kay did the same for Thomas and Georgia.  I combined them with the pictures I took when the Gutshalls were here and created another (small) album of Halloween pictures for my website.  I now have 425 albums with a total of 52,179 pictures!

According to ABC news, forty-nine states and territories are in an upward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases, according to an internal Health and Human Services.  Nearly one-third of West Virginia’s COVID-19 patients were in the intensive care unit during the week ending Oct. 25, marking the highest percentage of COVID-19 patients in critical care in the region.  The U.S. recorded 537,501 new coronavirus cases during the week ending Oct. 29 — a 25.4% increase from the previous week, the memo said.  Deaths are up by 2.2% compared with the previous week.

The United States set a new record in single-day COVID-19 cases Friday, according to several data trackers.  There were 92,630 new COVID-19 cases reported between 5 p.m. Thursday and 5 p.m. Friday, according to date from Johns Hopkins University.  Another tally, by The New York Times, also saw a record number of new cases on Friday, with 90,728.  The COVID Tracking Project put the nation’s daily case numbers at 97,080, far surpassing Thursday’s record of 88,452. The current case surges indicate “uncontrolled spread” of COVID-19, the group said.  The site I use, worldometers.info, reported 95,885 new cases. 

Here are all the statistics from worldometers and the Virginia Department of Health:

October 31           Infected                   Died

World               46,347,055           1,199,373

US                       9,400,395              236,060

Virginia               181,190                  3,654

Augusta County          707                         9

Today was the day with 25 hours in it for us—we set our clocks back tonight as Daily Standard Time came to an end.  To make the time pass, we watched most of a second football game, Virginia Tech vs Louisville, and even a little of a third one, Virginia vs North Carolina.

We sometimes struggle for what television to watch at night.  Last night we stumbled onto a Netflix movie that turned out to be pretty funny, Hollidate.  Tonight we tried another Hallmark movie.

September 2020: Life in the COVID-19 Era

September 1, 2020

Gus, Betsy, and Freddie headed to school today for the first time since mid-March.  Gus and Betsy rode the bus to and from Stewart Middle School.  Freddie was dropped off by Josh then was supposed to have ridden the bus to our house at the conclusion of his first day in first grade.  Imagine my surprise when the bus stopped at the end of our driveway, where I was, and the driver told me he had left Freddie at Stewart Middle School so he could ride with Betsy and Gus home.  He said he wasn’t sure anyone would be here.  This was more than strange since someone has been at this house every day for the past several years to meet Betsy and/or Freddie.  We quickly called Ann who was nearby, on her way to our house to pick him up.  What made this even more confusing is that we had talked to Ann prior to the bus arriving.  She told us that Betsy and Gus were already on their way home on the bus and were the only two students on the bus.  In other words, Freddie had been left at the middle school and none of his siblings were there.  Ann was not happy, to say the least.  Fortunately, Betsy and Gus had their phones with them.  When Ann called Betsy she said their bus was turning around because it had to go back and pick someone up who had been left behind.  It was Freddie!

 

Oh, the troubles we go through because Augusta County redistricted the Gutshall’s house out of the Clymore Elementary School district!  For everyone’s sake, I wish Freddie could catch the bus with Betsy and Gus every day.  That way, no one would have to be here.  But that won’t happen because the only reason Freddie is given permission to go to Clymore is because we are listed as his afterschool care and we live in the Clymore district.

 

I think the full story is simply that Freddie’s bus driver screwed up.  From now on, I think he’ll be dropping Freddie here on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he has in-person school.

 

This morning I made a trip to the bank.  The main branch of Wells Fargo in Harrisonburg, had been closed since the pandemic hit.  We have our safety deposit box there and I wanted to update the external hard drive I keep in it with new pictures and files.  Plus, Lynn’s passport needed to be returned to the box and I wanted to double check on some items for Lynn.  In order to do these things, I had to make an appointment to meet a Wells Fargo employee at the bank in order to get access to the box.  I had no trouble getting all of these done though it took longer than usual thanks to all the inconveniences I had to go through just to get in to the box.

 

What I had to check on for Lynn was to see if a copy of her Advanced Medical Directive was there.  It was.  I had copies of mine here but couldn’t find a copy of hers.  Likewise, I have copies of my will here at the house but she doesn’t.  Hers was in the safety deposit box so perhaps someday I’ll get copies of those documents, bring them home and copy them, then put them back.  Since it is somewhat of a hassle to do this now, requiring a bank appointment, I may wait until later.

 

This afternoon we had a third contractor come by to measure our windows and show us what his company offered.  Once we get this quote we’ll be deciding.  Our windows are really in bad shape.

 

Today is Josh’s birthday and to help Ann out we made a trip to Smiley’s Ice Cream to pick up an ice cream order she had purchased for him.  She worked all day, of course, then had to deal with the bus mixup plus cook a big dinner for the birthday boy and family.  When we got there all three kids who had been to school reported that it went OK for them today.

 

Today our lunatic President promoted a conspiracy theory he had described the day before about a supposed plane full of black-clad protesters he claimed had aimed to disrupt the Republican convention last week. He said that someone told him about a mysterious plane. “That person was on a plane, said that there were about six people like that person, more or less, and what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters — people that obviously were looking for trouble,” Trump said before departing on Air Force One en route to Kenosha, Wisconsin.  He also told a reporter from Fox News that “people that are in the dark shadows” have “control” over his Democratic opponent for the presidency, former Vice President Joe Biden.  What a weirdo!

 

Yesterday I wrote that James Madison University, which just began classes a week ago, had 390 coronavirus cases already.  Tonight the big news is that JMU is stopping in-person classes.  According to a press release from the university, JMU will transition to primarily online learning, with some hybrid instruction for accreditation and licensure requirements, graduate research and specialized upper-class courses requiring equipment and space, through the month of September.  Classes will take place as scheduled for the remainder of the week unless students are otherwise notified by their instructors. In-person classes will transition to online no later than Monday, September 7. The release also says that residents will be asked to return home by September 7 unless they seek an exemption to stay.

 

I wonder how long it will take Augusta County Schools to do the same….

 

Here are today’s numbers:

September 1        Infected                   Died

World               25,888,249              860,249

US                       6,256,206              188,869

Virginia                121,615                  2,612

Augusta County          369                         4

The data shows an increase in US infections in the past 24 hours of over 50,000.  There were over 1,200 new deaths in the US and over 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Plus, Virginia’s number of deaths were 32 in just one day—much higher than normal.  Are we winning or losing this battle?

 

September 2, 2020

Lynn has been on a wooden sign kick.  Two days ago she finished her “Happy Fall, Y’All” sign which will go on the front porch soon.  Yesterday she made another one for Christmas which she finished today.  She is such a crafty person!   They all look professionally done.

 

The news today was that JMU had over 500 cases of coronavirus in just one week of in-person classes.  That’s why they sent everyone back home for the month of September.  Dr. Fauci urged states to not let Labor Day celebrations ruin the fall.  Ohio had the largest single day jump since July with school reopening there.  But JMU’s idea of sending kids back home is what Dr. Fauci says “It’s the worst thing you could do…Keep them at the university in a place that’s sequestered enough from the other students,” he added. “But don’t have them go home because they could be spreading it in their home state.”

 

Today was an early day for us.  Lynn had an appointment at Augusta Health for an x-ray on her foot at 7:45 followed by a 8:15 appointment with the orthopedic doctor.  The doctor said that her foot was healing albeit slowly.  He told her to start wearing tennis shoes around the house but not to go on long walks with me yet.  I guess this is what we both expected.

 

Today was Henry’s day to attend school for the first time since March.  He wanted to go on the Wednesday-Friday schedule because most of his friends were on that plan.  I hope Fort Defiance High School students do a better job of social distancing than some of the pictures that were on the news today of other schools.

 

ABC news ran a story about the false claim that the coronavirus death totals are exaggerated:

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report is being twisted by conspiracy theorists to imply the COVID-19 death toll is not as serious as it sounds, health experts say. In response, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical authorities say unequivocally that at least 180,000 Americans have died because of this virus.  And if anything, the figure is likely an undercount, say health experts. “Let there not be any confusion,” Fauci said after President Donald Trump retweeted an article that inaccurately suggested the real number of COVID-19 deaths is 9,000. “It’s not 9,000 deaths from COVID-19. It’s 180,000-plus deaths,” Fauci told Good Morning America. “The point that the CDC was trying to make was that a certain percentage of [deaths] had nothing else but COVID,” Fauci said. “That does not mean that someone who has hypertension, or diabetes who dies of COVID didn’t die of COVID-19. They did.”

 

A school that I have direct ties to just lost its secretary to COVID-19.  She was at Montcalm High School, which absorbed my alma mater Bramwell High School when it closed.  Montcalm is the school where the Hill family scholarship has been given for the past forty years in memory of our parents.  Mercer County (WV) has had 24 deaths from COVID-19; the other 23 occurred at a nursing home in Princeton.

 

As usual, Lynn went to help her mother with lunch today.  While she was gone, I decided to walk, something I have done very little of since she broke her foot.  My plan was to walk the one mile out and back for two miles.  When I passed the Michael’s house, the dog Remy came running at me, as he typically does when he isn’t tied up or in the house.  After I got past him, I decided that I didn’t want to fight him again on the way back so I’d keep walking on the Leaport loop.  This is the opposite direction that Lynn and I typically walk the 3.5 miles circuit and it means that three miles out I’d be coming to the steepest part of the route as you ascend up Limestone Road to Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church.  My legs didn’t hurt that much but I discovered that today is horribly humid.  I made it without stopping but really sweated.   By the. end of the day I had accumulated around 4.5 miles and 11,300 steps.

 

Part of those steps were earned cutting the grass since I did both the riding and pushing.  This year has been terrible for grass cutting.  I have to cut every 4-5 days and even then the yard looks bad.  And what happened as I finished mowing today?  It rained again.  Tomorrow’s forecast includes a tornado warning.  What’s next?

 

Tomorrow is September 3, the day we were supposed to be leaving on our Brazil and Argentina trip.  Maybe next year…  Brazil is almost as bad as the US in terms of handling coronavirus.

 

The CDC sent a letter to state health officials saying they should be ready to issue a vaccine by November 1.  Is this just a coincidence that the election takes place on November 3?   Critics worry that the vaccine might be rushed.  Dr. Fauci said the end of the year is a better time frame.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

 

September 2        Infected                   Died

World               26,150,138              866,020

US                       6,295,733              189,892

Virginia                122,542                  2,641

Augusta County          372                         4

 

Another thousand Americans dead since yesterday.  Almost 900 more Virginians infected in 24 hours and 29 more dead.  This is a broken record—same old, same old.

 

Tonight was Zoom night for the Hill family.  Ann’s family didn’t join but the others did.  Jim and boys didn’t last the full time but we enjoyed chatting with Thomas, Georgia, and Kay.

 

September 3, 2020

Lynn has been interpreting for many Rockingham County Schools’ IEP meetings lately.  She had three yesterday and another one today, all via Zoom.  She amazes me when she does this.  On the call will be a Hispanic mother, SPED teacher, principal, perhaps another teacher or specialist, and Lynn.  The only way the mom can understand anything the others say is via Lynn.  And she is quick—whether she’s asked to relay conversation or read from a document that is shared.  Either way, her Spanish skills are so superb!  I don’t know who leaves the call with more appreciation, the teachers or the mother.  Actually, I think I am the one who appreciates her the most.

 

The Gutshall kids have made it through three days of school so far.  Freddie loves his school so much he wishes it would meet five days a week instead of two.  I met the bus at the end of our driveway today.  Ann wasn’t far behind picking him up.

 

I spent time today at Central UMC getting some files that are needed in order for Central to request forgiveness for one of the US Government PPP loans.  We just have to provide evidence that despite the coronavirus epidemic the church did not reduce staff or reduce salaries.  The bookkeeper, Maddie, wasn’t there when I got there so I logged onto the treasurer’s computer and found the files I thought I would need.

 

When I got back home I found that I need more evidence so I’ll be making another trip there tomorrow.  I do have a desire and need to learn QuickBooks so I can act as a backup for the church in using the financial software.  I watched the first 25% of a four hour tutorial on it this afternoon.

 

Our President, speaking to fans of his in North Carolina, said that they should vote by mail then try to vote in person, too.  He was trying to make the point that the mail-in process was corrupt and they would likely be able to vote again in person.  But what he asked every one of them to do is to commit voter fraud, a crime.  Can you believe this idiot?  Dan Rather posted that it was illegal to vote twice but not to get impeached twice.

 

Tonight John and Ginny Bauman came over to swing and talk.  John lost his mother last week so both families had something in common.  We chatted for nearly two hours.  It was nice having another couple to talk with.

 

Here are the daily statistics:

September 3        Infected                   Died

World               26,456,505              872,473

US                       6,334,593              191,027

Virginia                123,668                  2,652

Augusta County          373                         4

Nearly 40,000 new cases in the US and over 1,000 new deaths.  Virginia has over 1,000 new cases.   I think I can just copy and paste those sentences every day now.

 

September 4, 2020

I spent most of the morning at Central UMC.  First I recorded the congregational prayer I had written for this Sunday’s (virtual) service.  Then I logged onto the Treasurer’s computer and produced some additional documents I needed for the PPP loan forgiveness application.  I also scanned some other documents to a flash drive then uploaded all of these documents to the online form for applying for the $18,237 loan to be forgiven.  I submitted it before lunch and got back a reply from our local bank that it all looked good.  The government has 90 days to reply.

 

After I got back I decided to make a run to the trash dump.  We had our normal load but the Gutshalls had a huge load.  They must be cleaning out in preparation for moving though it will likely be after October when they move.

 

Lynn had some friends over this morning while I was at Central.  She had another friend who planned to come over this afternoon but, no surprise, it rained again.  I guess I’ll be cutting grass in another two or three days.

 

Now that there’s a hint of a coronavirus vaccine that may be ready by the end of the year there’s a discussion about who should get vaccinated first.  I believe the plan is to vaccinate front line health care workers first, followed by nursing home residents and others at a high risk of infection.  I wonder if I’ll be in that category with my respiratory history.  I’m anxious for the vaccine to be available, of course, but I also want hard evidence that it hasn’t been rushed to the public without sufficient testing.  Who knows what long term effects any vaccine could have?  We’ve only had this virus for around nine months.

 

We had another great dinner featuring rib eye steak from the grill, corn on the cob, baked tomatoes, and a salad.  No wonder I weighed a little up this morning.

 

After dinner we went to Kohl’s in Waynesboro.  We had nothing else going on and Lynn had a $10 coupon so we went there to buy some wash cloths.  She also got some paint at Michael’s.  She has making more porch signs in her plans.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 4        Infected                   Died

World               26,722,291              877,229

US                       6,378,419              191,809

Virginia                124,779                  2,662

Augusta County          380                         4

I read one projection today that the US will have 400,000 deaths by the end of the year.  We had 800 more today.  I did the math and if we keep this up we’ll be near 300,000.   Another 1,100 cases in Virginia.  No surprise.  I wonder if any of the 7 new cases in Augusta County were connected to a school.  Augusta County still looks much better than Rockingham and Harrisonburg where the total number of cases is near 2,000.   There are over 50 deaths there and nearly 200 still hospitalized.  RMH must be near full.  I’m glad we went to the Waynesboro Kohl’s instead of the Harrisonburg store.

 

The weather has taken a turn for cooler temperatures.  It is supposed to be in the 50’s overnight and highs for the next two days not getting out of the 70’s.  There is no sign of rain for the first time in weeks.

 

September 5, 2020

What a beautiful day!  Low humidity, nice temperature, no rain.

 

One of the tasks we did in the morning was to change some travel plans we had for 2021.  We had booked a vacation with Globus for September taking us to Brazil and Argentina featuring a stop at Igwasu Falls.  But given how bad coronavirus has ravaged Brazil, we decided to change this trip to a Lisbon – Northern Spain – Barcelona trip in July.  Fortunately, Globus was able to make this change, and supposedly transferred the deposit we made for the first trip to the second.  I say supposedly because we later got an e-mail from Globus showing that we had a deposit due on this new trip by Monday, September 7.  It didn’t show that our original deposit had been transferred.  I emailed the agent but we haven’t heard back from him yet.

 

Today I finished a task I had begun yesterday of fixing the water damage to the walls and ceiling in our living room.  There wasn’t that much that some spackling and paint didn’t fix though it took a little while and multiple coats of spackling.  I still had the paint from when we had painted the living room in 2007.  I also had to cover up some water marks on the ceiling.  I had bought some paint specifically for that task and it seemed to work.  I’d have to say that the room looks much better now.

 

With such good weather I felt like I had to get outside today.  So while Lynn and her friend Cheryl did some work on Lynn’s Cricut machine, I went to Fort Defiance High School and walked 12 laps around the football field.  Then I drove across the street to Stewart Middle School and walked one lap around the trail there and then around the school itself.  By the end I had walked 11,335 steps, 5.2 miles.  Since most of it was level it wasn’t that hard.  Lynn doesn’t like to walk around the football field—she says it is too boring.  I don’t mind because my mind is on freeplay the entire time I’m walking so it doesn’t really matter to me where I’m walking.

 

I’ve enjoyed listening to Sirius Music Channels 58 and 59 lately.  Both play older country music which I like.  In mid-July I wrote about how we had re-subscribed to Sirius after they sent us an offer to come back for $5 per month.  I play it on the Amazon Echo in the kitchen we got for free when we re-subscribed with them.   I also listen to it on my radio (through my phone) when I’m in the car.  Lynn does the same since her car has the original radio with Sirius on it.

 

Lynn has been working on another one of her signs.  Actually she’s creating signs on the back sides of the signs she has already made.  For example, on the back of her “Happy Fall, Y’all” sign she’s doing one which says “Give Thanks” for Thanksgiving.  Her signs are quite professional looking, as I’ve said before.  She and her Cricut are a good combination.

 

Tomorrow Lynn plans to stain her Pergola.  Her friend Cheryl is going to help her and I know I will, too.

 

People are better nowadays about wearing masks.  I’ve noticed this when we go out because I typically stay in the car while Lynn goes in to stores.  Last night, for example, we were at Kohl’s and Michael’s in Harrisonburg.  Previously we were at Lowe’s and Walmart in Staunton.  I’d estimate that 95% of the customers wore their masks.  Of course, signs at every store say they are required but no one seems to enforce that.  The other interesting thing is that at least 10% of those who wear masks wear them improperly, usually by not covering up their noses.

 

Our grandson Thomas got his first haircut since the pandemic began today.  Kay sent us before and after pictures.  He looks great now.

 

There wasn’t a lot of news today about COVID-19.  I don’t think that’s because it is more under control.  I think it is just because the stories are so repetitive.  For example, here are today’s repetitive statistics:

September 5        Infected                   Died

World               27,018,734              882,699

US                       6,427,289              192,784

Virginia                125,727                  2,677

Augusta County          382                         4

As usual, there are 5,000 more deaths internationally, near 1,000 more in the US, another and 1,000 new cases in Virginia.  Augusta County now has 20 people currently hospitalized.  That doesn’t sound good.  Virginia had 15 deaths in the past 24 hours.  I hope the news media hasn’t become callous regarding these statistics.  I don’t think I am.

 

ABC news said tonight that the number of coronavirus cases is still rising in thirty states.  Health officials are concerned that all the Labor Day celebrations taking place this weekend will lead to more outbreaks.

 

September 6, 2020

Today was Sunday so I had responsibilities this morning playing the piano for Sunday School via Zoom.  It was another beautiful day, low humidity, and temperatures in the low 80’s.

 

This afternoon Henry, Betsy, and Cheryl Kent came over and the five of us started staining the Pergola.  I had disconnected the swings and gotten them out of the way so the five of us got the entire frame stained.  It took about two hours and we used nearly the entire gallon of stain.  So when we finished Lynn and I ordered another gallon of stain for pickup at Lowe’s for the swings.  We went there tonight and picked it up.

 

I actually spent over an hour after dinner staining one of the five swings.  It wasn’t easy because there are all kinds of tough-to-reach sections and shiny bolts to be avoided.  I got the one swing pretty well finished though there are some areas which need touching up.  Lynn came out just as I was finishing and found several places she wants redone.  Lynn is much more of a perfectionist than I am when it comes to this sort of thing.  It’s probably a good thing because I know I tend to go too fast with many jobs.  However, without getting mad about it, I told her that tomorrow she and Cheryl can do the other four swings.

 

Lynn has been finishing up another of her signs today—the Thanksgiving sign which is on the back side of the Fall sign.  Showing her perfectioinist nature, she has redone it several times from scratch and finally has it the way she wants it.

 

I keep telling her that she can’t be that much of a perfectioinist because she is married to me and I have many flaws.  I’m sure she’d like to have me redone from scratch.

 

Lynn has continued to help her mother with lunch.  Mrs. Hanger’s health is basically the same as it has been for the past couple of weeks.  It isn’t particularly good since she needs help with so many daily functions, but it isn’t getting worse, apparently.

 

This evening Kay texted us and asked if we could meet her and her family tomorrow halfway between our houses, perhaps around Front Royal.  Lynn got her sister Jane to take the lunchtime duties so we plan to go.

 

There’s not much news today about the coronavirus.  Like last night, I hope we’re not forgetting about it.  Here are the daily statistics:

September 6        Infected                   Died

World               27,275,151              887,094

US                       6,458,906              193,214

Virginia                126,926                  2,678

Augusta County          385                         4

The numbers show a little lower increase today than we’ve seen.  Let’s hope the trend continues.

 

September 7, 2020

WVU suspended 29 students and switched from in-person to virtual classes today in the midst of an uptick in coronaviruses in Morgantown.  They are scheduled to return to in-person classes in three weeks.

 

Today was Labor Day.  Kay texted us and asked if we could meet them earlier than she had requested last night because they had an appointment at noon to pick apples in an orchard near Winchester.  We suggested that we just meet them at the orchard and they agreed.  So we left home around 9:00, stopped at a Jo Ann fabric store in Winchester so Lynn could buy some things on sale, then got to the orchard around 10:45.  The Foys weren’t far behind.

 

We had a very good visit with them.  As it turned out, I went apple picking with them while Lynn stayed behind with her broken foot.  We ate a good lunch there.  Lynn and I had taken our usual yogurt lunch but we also bought some apple pie flavored ice cream.  Kay and family got some sandwiches at the orchard market and we enjoyed a good picnic lunch there.  I was able to take some good photos.

 

The apples that we picked were Honeycrisp.  I don’t know that I’d ever had any of this variety before.  They were crisp and very sweet—quite delicious.  They were also expensive.  They were $2.49 if you picked them yourself and $2.99 for pre-picked ones.  Since I went to the orchard with Kay and her family, we got around 1/3 of a bushel.  The cost was around $1 per apple.

 

After our great visit with Thomas, Georgia, Kay, and Andy, we drove back home where Cheryl Kent met us shortly after we returned, around 3:30.  She, Lynn, and I spent the next three hours staining the swings on the Pergola.  The swings weren’t easy to stain because they have narrow slats that you have to get stained on all four sides plus chains and bolts to avoid.  But we got it done although I didn’t finish cleaning up until 8:00 tonight.  I had picked up hamburgers from the Old Schoolhouse food truck at Valley Pike Market for our dinner while Lynn and Cheryl finished the last of the swings.

 

I wish I could say our work on the Pergola is over but I think we’re going to give the swings a coat of polyurethane just for the sake of keeping them from weathering.  I don’t know when that will happen.  The Pergola looks very good now with all of the posts, beams, and swings each coated with a cedar colored stain.

 

Our holiday today consisted of just these two events—visiting with Kay & family at the Winchester orchard and staining the remaining four of the five Pergola swings.  All in all it was a good Labor Day.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 7        Infected                   Died

World               27,479,194              896,421

US                       6,485,567              193,534

Virginia                127,571                  2,684

Augusta County          384                         4

Virginia’s numbers look better than usual—under 600 new cases and only 6 additional deaths from the previous day.  Augusta County’s number of infections actually went down by one—must have been an error in the previous day’s numbers.

 

September 8, 2020

Ordinarily today would be a “back to normal” day.  It is the first workday after Labor Day.  Schools are back in session most everywhere though most are virtual.  It is hard to call this a normal day, though.  Oh, how we long for normal!  Thomas and Georgia are in school, 100% online.  Henry, Gus, Betsy, and Freddie are back in school two days per week with the rest virtual.  Faron and Coen started their Pre-School in person.

 

Lynn’s schedule today looked like a pre-COVID day.  She had two phone IEP meetings in the morning, followed by a meeting at Central UMC, then to Legacy to help her Mom with lunch.  Then she has another interpreting phone call in the afternoon.  My schedule was much lighter with only a Food Bank pickup scheduled.

 

I did some photo work in the morning, uploading pictures from yesterday’s visit with the Foys and some recent Pergola pictures.  It takes a while to get all of this done because the process involves several steps:  1.  Transfer the pictures from the camera to the downstairs iMac   2.  Upload each of them to the Photos app on that computer   3.  Create a new album with them on Photos   4.  Upload the pictures to Flickr    5.  Create a new Flickr album with them   6.  Edit the Flickr album, selecting which picture is to be used as the album’s representative picture and copying the album link   7.   Open my homepage (www.joehillfamily.com), sign in as administrator, and edit the list of albums by adding the new link   8.  Send a message including the link to those who might want to view it   9.  Review each of the pictures and select then copy those which should be added to my Favorites folder   10.  Copy the new folder and the new favorites to an external drive which is connected to the iMac   11.  Transfer the new album and favorites to my new laptop.  Eventually all new photos/albums will also be transferred to other external media including the hard drive in our safety deposit box.

 

From ABC news this morning, a little bit of improving news:  there were 24,257 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the United States on Monday, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.  It’s the first time since June 21 that the United States has reported under 30,000 new cases in a day. Monday’s tally is also far below the country’s record set on July 16, when there were 77,255 new cases in a 24-hour-reporting period.   An additional 267 coronavirus-related fatalities were also recorded Monday, the country’s lowest daily death toll since July 4 and down from a peak of 2,666 new fatalities reported on April 17.

 

When I went to the orchard yesterday with Kay and her family, we chatted for a while about her visit last weekend with Butch.  She told me she had noticed how different the two of us are.  For example, she said that he is much more outgoing and personable.  He had taken her to various places and, at each, she said he had many friends whom she was introduced to.  In confess, I have very few close friends.  In fact, I think it is fair to say that I only have one, Lynn.  I am just not comfortable in social settings like he is.

 

That being said, one thing has happened recently that has helped me.  And it came as a surprise.  I will fully admit that I was not in favor of building the pergola.  I thought it was a frivolous addition to our backyard, would be lots of work for me to construct, and would mean grass cutting inconveniences for the rest of my life here.  Of course, Jim was the real hero in getting it built.  Since the pergola has gone up we have had more people visit us in the yard than we have had in the 32 years we have lived here.  I doubt that I can remember them all, but here is at least a partial list:  John and Ginny Bauman, Cheryl Kent, Cheryl Wright, Mary Gooden, Jan Painter, and Pat Collins.  Tonight, Bee and Janet Myers came down to swing and talk.  Later this week some old friends who now live in eastern Virginia, Howard and Carolyn Miller are coming.  Next weekend our covenant group, consisting of five couples, is coming over.  One positive thing about COVID-19 is that it has encouraged outdoor meetings and our pergola has fit the bill!

 

Lynn has been working on yet another sign today.  This one says “Let it Snow.”  It is on the back side of her Christmas sign.  As usual, it looks very professionally done.

 

I’ve told Lynn that I fully expect Trump to come up with some nefarious hoax/plan in the last two months prior to the election.  We’re in that period now so I’m still wondering what he’ll do.  I’m sure he’ll announce some coronavirus vaccine prior to November 3.  Lynn thinks he’ll try to ramrod through Congress another pandemic relief package which will put money in everyone’s pocket, making them happy with him so they’ll vote for him.  But I think he’ll resort to some dirtier tricks; I’m just not sure what this will be.  I’m looking for him to come out with some big lie about Biden or other “discovery” that will make him look good because right now, according to the pollsters, he’s behind.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 8        Infected                   Died

World               27,721,061              900,845

US                       6,513,302              194,013

Virginia                128,407                  2,686

Augusta County          387                         4

Again the data is improving, though not good.  The US had under 500 new deaths compared to the 1,000+ I had been reporting for weeks.  Virginia only added two though there were over 800 new cases.  Augusta County is creeping towards 400 infections though the number of deaths has remained at four for quite some time.

 

September 9, 2020

Lynn had a full schedule today but we began with an early trip to Costco.  We had lots of items to get both for ourselves and for Central UMC.  It was a quick and seemingly safe trip.

 

When we got back, I started working on some of my picture files while Lynn had her Zoom meetings.  She had four in all today, all IEP updates that came about because of Rockingham County Public Schools changed its daily schedule due to coronavirus.  As I’ve said before, she handles these meetings extremely well.

 

The work I’m doing on my pictures is all selfishly done and is work I enjoy.  The Macs I have allow you to set a folder as the target folder for its screen saver.  When the screen saver kicks in, it displays multiple pictures from the target folder, changing each picture every couple of seconds.  It makes for a great way to display your favorite photos.  Indeed, that’s what I’ve done for the past several years—created a folder, for example, called 2019 Favorites in which I’ve put a copy of my favorite photos from all the photos I took during the year.  For my screen saver on my big screen iMac, I created a folder called Recent Favorites and inside that folder dropped the 2020 Favorites, 2019 Favorites, 2018 Favorites, 2017 Favorites, and 2016 Favorites.  Now the screen saver randomly picks photos from any of these nested enclosed folders and displays them.  It gives me a snapshot of many places we’ve gone in the past five years, family events, grandkids, celebrations, etc.  Plus, since all of the photos are good ones—those I’ve handpicked to be my favorites—the photos are all pleasant to view.  Well, nearly all except the 2016 Favorites.  I had not done a job with the 2016 Favorites folder.  I had merely copied all photos in that folder from an event I wanted to highlight, whether the photos were good or not.  And I had left out lots of things we did in 2016 such as our Peru trip.  So for the past day or so I have cleaned up the 2016 Favorites folder, making sure that all the photos in there were good ones and making sure all of the 2016 events were included.  It was fairly easy to do since I have all of my pictures arranged by events, such as 2016 Peru or 2016 Thanksgiving.

 

This job has given me something to do anytime I have spare time—work on creating a 2015 Favorites folder, then a 2014 Favorites, etc.  When the screen saver kicks in you get a really nice mix of pictures featuring the kids at different ages.  Plus you can manually kick off the screen saver by moving the pointer to any of the four extreme corners of the screen.   On the big screen iMac the pictures look especially nice.  Of course, I can copy my Recent Favorites folder to each of our laptops when I want to.

 

I worked on the pictures for quite a while, almost too long.   Near 3:00 I realized that it was going to rain later today and likely each day for the next several days.  It hasn’t rained for the past four or five days so it was important for me to get our grass mowed today.  Plus, we were getting company tonight and I wanted the yard to look good.  So for the next 90 minutes I mowed, both riding and pushing, and finished just in the nick of time to head to Penn Laird to pick up our pizza.

 

We had previously arranged with Howard and Carolyn Miller that we’d have pizza here when they stopped here at 5:45. We’ve done several things with them in the past including a couple of bike rides.  Carolyn not only taught with Lynn at Cub Run Elementary but is an excellent artist.  We have three of her paintings framed in our bedroom.  Howard is a Mennonite minister, a very bright and easy-to-talk-to fellow.  We enjoyed their company a lot.  We ate some Smiley’s sorbet for dessert.

 

No sooner did they leave than it was time to start the family Zoom meeting as we do each Wednesday night.  Everyone was able to join us tonight which made for an enjoyable call.  What a good day this was!

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 9        Infected                   Died

World               28,019,771              907,919

US                       6,549,475              195,239

Virginia               129,289                  2,697

Augusta County          398                         4

The number of cases in the US is still dropping but there were over 1,000 new deaths.  In Virginia, the number of cases is back to around 800 and there were 11 new deaths.

 

AstraZeneca was one of the companies in Phase 3 of vaccine testing.  But the news now is that they’ve had to suspend its Phase 3 testing because a woman who was given the vaccine developed some weird neurological issue.  The issue may or may not be related to the vaccine, it was reported.  Some in the medical field said this is actually good news because it shows that safety is coming first in the vaccine trials, not politics.

 

We both were up much later than usual this evening.  We even made a trip to Kroger in which we didn’t get back home until after 9:30. Usually we were in bed by then.  Lynn continues to do lots of craft work during her spare time though she doesn’t have much spare time thanks to all of the IEP meetings she is having via Zoom.

 

September 10, 2020

Today turned out to be more pleasant than forecast.  I thought it was going to be another rainy day especially since it rained a lot overnight but the day was actually very nice.

 

I spent four hours today at Central trying to learn more about QuickBooks and fix the errors that our new bookkeeper had made.  It took me a long time but I actually think I got the books in much better shape.  The reports now correctly show her salary—before since she started working the monthly reports showed her as being paid nothing although she was receiving checks twice each month.  And she had several other entries in the ledger coded incorrectly but I think all is well now.  I’m feeling much better about stepping in to do that kind of work if I need to in the future.  Like I’ve said before, I am not looking for another job but would like to be a backup for the person who sits in the bookkeeper’s seat.

 

That’s probably all I can attest to getting done of any value today—an easy, boring day.  I did meet Freddie’s bus in the afternoon along with Josh.  The four of us had a good chat on the pergola.

 

I also cooked some baked potatoes and grilled t-bone steaks for dinner.  Yum!  We really do eat well nowadays.

 

After dinner I drove Lynn into Staunton so she could visit with her Mom.  Unlike me, she had a very busy day again today, doing some IEP meetings plus some training with Albemarle County Schools, with whom she does the Migrant Ed tutoring of her student, Juan Pablo, at Waynesboro High School.  She also talked with Juan Pablo on the phone.  Sometime he won’t answer her calls but with school starting there are a few things he must do so Lynn stays on top of it.  His teachers will e-mail her if he isn’t getting his work done or is missing class.  Missing class nowadays means not signing into the online portal when the class is taught.

 

Jim commented last night that teaching virtually isn’t all that bad.  He says he doesn’t have any classroom management problems because he can always just mute a student who is making noise.  What a blessing it would be to have this option in an in-person classroom!

 

In a series of interviews with Bob Woodward, whose book Rage is being released very soon, Donald Trump acknowledged in February that coronavirus was much deadlier than the flu and that he deliberately downplayed the virus to the American public so as to not create panic.  This is a mighty flimsy excuse he’s come up with to defend how inept his initial response was to COVID-19.  Had he been honest with the American public, been more forceful from the beginning, maybe we wouldn’t be looking at 180,000+ American deaths now.  That’s not just what I believe, it’s what the Biden campaign is now arguing.  “He knew how dangerous it was, and while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose.  It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people,” Biden said.

 

Next week I’ve made arrangements to start working on the annual Central UMC audit.  This usually takes Sam Richardson and me at least two full days to get done.  Hopefully we won’t run into any headaches for the books from 2019.  This time next year we’ll be auditing the 2020 books and that may prove to be more of a job because there are likely other issues like the one I spent four hours working on today.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 10      Infected                   Died

World               28,288,753              912,659

US                       6,583,407              196,089

Virginia               130,525                  2,708

Augusta County          408                         4

Virginia’s total infections are up over 1,200 cases in one day.  The number of deaths in the US increased by 800.  Augusta County hasn’t had more deaths in a while but still has 20 hospitalizations.  Rockingham County and Harrisonburg have over 200.

 

ABC news reported that at least six teachers have died due to coronavirus since school opened this fall.  And yet Augusta County schools are still open for in-person classes…

 

September 11, 2020

This is the 19th year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy that took place in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  I remember being at Turner Ashby High School that day working in their library when we noticed the news on the tv screen.  It was certainly a very low period in American history.  An even lower period is what we’ve been going through since February of this year.

 

I’m still angry at our President for lying to the American people in February.  He knew, he knew that coronavirus was extremely dangerous and spread quickly through the air yet he told the American public things like it was a Democratic hoax, it wasn’t a serious disease any more than the flu, and that America had it all under control.  In February he said it would all be over soon.  Now here we are, over 180,000 Americans dead thanks to his inept and untruthful response.  There are over 11 million fewer jobs than when the pandemic hit.  Schools are a wreck.  Travel has ground to a halt.  And he still makes no apologies for his coverup; he just says he was trying to keep people from panicking.  They should have panicked.  They still should.

 

I do mourn the lives lost nineteen years ago.  But keep these statistics in mind:  the 9/11 tragedy was a one day event that cost America 3,000 lives.  COVID-19 is a six month nightmare which has already cost over sixty times the number of lives than 9/11.  And it is nowhere near its end.  The CDC says that by October 3 we may have as many as 217,000 dead.  Worldwide, we lose over 5,000 every day due to the virus.

 

Lynn and I returned to Costco during the senior hour this morning.  It wasn’t very crowded and we weren’t rushed so we had a chance to browse for a while.

 

I spent over an hour back at Central today working with QuickBooks.  I found two errors that Central’s bookkeeper made in July which cause errors in monthy reports for July and August. The errors are relatively minor and don’t affect bank balances but are related to the account to which checks were charged.  I had found several similar errors yesterday which were easy to fix.  The two today won’t be so easy—they have to do with a check was written with QuickBooks for each but it should have been a “payroll liability check” instead of a standard check.  I couldn’t figure out how to fix this while I was at the church today but when I got home I found a series of steps online that will enable this to be remedied.  I guess next week I’ll sit down with the bookkeeper and get this taken care of.  I’ll be there a good bit anyway since we’re doing the church audit several days during the week.  Once again I enjoyed learning more about QuickBooks.

 

This afternoon I did a one mile walk, the first I’ve done in several days.  I hope to make this a regular occasion over the next week.  The weather forecast for next week is good.

 

I also made a trip to the dump taking our trash and the Gutshall’s.  This gave me a chance to check on Betsy, Freddie, and Gus since they were home by themselves all day.  They were fine.

 

This evening I placed an online pickup order for Lowe’s for two items.  One was a package of cup hooks that I plan to use to hold the solar lights to the pergola.  The lights were ordered on Amazon and will be here next Wednesday.  I also ordered some Drano for our shower drain which sometimes needs some assistance.  After dinner we picked our order up.

 

Lowe’s has never had good customer service, in my opinion.  Sometimes when I’m in the store I can’t find anyone to help or answer my questions.  But I will say that their pickup service has been great.  I place an order online, drive there, call to let them know which space I’m parked in, and someone brings my order out to the car.  Today the young lady at one point came out and told me they were having trouble locating the Drano I had ordered but she, like me, had seen that supposedly they had nine of them in stock.  A few minutes later out she came with the item in her hand.  It is a good service.  We’ve had good experiences with Walmart and Kroger pickup, too.

 

Here are the statistics for today:

September 11      Infected                   Died

World               28,604,124              918,116

US                       6,627,706              197,223

Virginia               131,640                  2,711

Augusta County          414                         4

Another twelve hundred Americans lost their lives due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Another thousand Virginians became infected with it since yesterday.

 

There are a hundreds of thousands of people in the west told to evacuate due to the huge fires there.  There have been entire cities burned down and scores of deaths.  Three dozen fires are burning in Oregon with dozens of people missing.  Half a million, ten percent of the Oregon population, have been told to evacuate.  California has several mammoth fires, too, with many homes burned.  The air quality is awful in California, Oregon, and Washington.  Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco are blanketed in smoke and have the world’s worst air quality.  The California governor blames much of this fire damage on climate change which has left his state in such a tinder state.

 

Our non-empathetic President has said nothing about the devastation in the west due to the fires.  Why?  Because California is a strong Democratic state and he only cares for those who support him.  He is not a President for all of America.

 

On ABC news tonight, the CDC says children can easily transmit COVID-19 from school to home.  A recent CDC study verified this.  Dr. Fauci says it will be well into 2021 before we’re back to normal and have been protected by a vaccine.  He said he would be happy if a vaccine were 70-75% effective.  He again emphasized that being in a group indoors endangers everyone.

 

September 12, 2020

Today had a busy morning and an afternoon I’ve been looking forward to for months.  The busy morning included a trip to Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville for my favorite apple, Golden Delicious, followed by a stop at the Popcorn store in Harrisonburg for Lynn, then to get some tomatoes at our favorite market, Overlook Produce.  We then got some ice cream at Smiley’s and headed home before noon.

 

At noon, WVU’s football season opened against Eastern Kentucky at Morgantown.  The game was so unusual—no fans were allowed except for family.  Eastern Kentucky was not a tough opponent—they lost 59-0 last week against Marshall.  Thus, anything closer to that score would be proof that Marshall is as good as WVU, something that no Mountaineer would want to admit, true or not.  The final was 56-10 and was an easy win for the Mountaineers.  Eastern Kentucky was no match.  The next eight games will be much tougher since they are against Big 12 opponents.  Their next game is in two weeks at Oklahoma State.

 

During the second half of the football game I worked on editing my 2015 Favorite pictures.  As I mentioned three days ago, this project is time intensive but I like the results.  My downstairs computer now randomly chooses favorite pictures of mine to display from 2015 through 2020.  I guess I’ll work on 2014 next.

 

Lynn and I watched the women’s finals of the US Open this afternoon between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka.  Like the WVU football game, there were no fans to watch.  This is so strange!  The match went to three sets.  Osaka won 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

 

This report from ABC news doesn’t really come as a surprise but it worth restating:  As restaurants attempt to keep their kitchens open amid the pandemic, a new study has linked a possible increased risk of infection to dining out.  The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined close-contact exposures contributing to the spread of the virus, and it found that adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have reported eating at a restaurant within 14 days of infection compared with those who tested negative.  Interestingly, the research found that eating inside at a restaurant was more related to transmission of the disease than other activities such as shopping, gatherings in a home, using public transportation, or going to an office setting, salon, gym, or church or religious gathering.  Though prior to the pandemic Lynn and I frequently ate at restaurants, this research certainly gives us reason to continue to avoid that now.

 

North Dakota and South Dakota lead the country in new COVID-19 cases per capita over the last two weeks, ranking first and second respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.  As ABC news put it, the Republican governors of both states have eschewed mask requirements, tapping into a spirit of independence hewn from enduring the winters and storms of the Great Plains.  The South Dakota governor, Kristi Noem, has never been seen wearing one.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

September 12      Infected                   Died

World               28,896,556              923,385

US                       6,670,395              197,972

Virginia               132,940                  2,722

Augusta County          421                         4

The results are so predictable:  another 43,000 infections in the US in one day and 700 deaths.  Virginia has 1,300 new cases and 11 more deaths in the past 24 hours.  Augusta County has 21 people currently hospitalized.

 

And, here’s a story in the Staunton News Leader today about Augusta County Schools:

Augusta County now has a second positive case of COVID since the beginning of the school year.   Soon after confirming that there was a case at Wilson Memorial High School this week, Superintendent Eric Bond confirmed by email that there was also a case at Hugh K. Cassell Elementary School.

“A parent at Cassell Elementary School has reported their child’s diagnosis with COVID-19,” Bond wrote in an email. “The division has worked with the local health department to assist in contact tracing. This individual was not on school premises when the symptoms began and it is believed he/she contracted the virus within the community.”  Bond said that the Virginia Department of Health determined that, based on the timeline of the illness, there was no exposure in the classroom or at school.

It just keeps creeping closer and closer to us…  I remember early on when Augusta County had no cases.

 

September 13, 2020

This was a typical Sunday for me including playing the piano via Zoom for the CUMC Sunday School Class.  For Lynn, it was a superbly productive day.  She froze tomatoes, baked bread, made an apple cake, washed several loads of clothes, cut my hair, and helped her Mom with lunch.

 

I mentioned yesterday that I worked on editing my 2015 Favorite pictures.  I finished them and did the 2014 Favorites today.  I’ve now begun the 2013 ones.  It is so much fun for me to see these old pictures which remind me of where we’ve been to and how the kids looked when they were much younger.  I’m also reminded of how much more I used to weigh!

 

Lynn invited the Gutshalls over tonight because we’ve seen so little of them lately since school has started.  The apple cake she made was enjoyed by all of us.  It is always good to see and talk with them.

 

I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to a barber shop now that Lynn has been cutting my hair.  She does a fine job—as good as what I’ve gotten in a barber shop.  Currently, we do have to borrow the clipper set from the Gutshalls.  When we first looked, a few months ago in the height of the pandemic, they weren’t available on Amazon.  I just checked and put a set in our Amazon cart.  However, it does say that it will ship in 3-5 weeks.

 

I discovered something interesting today.  I looked in the driveway and saw that all of the windows in my Honda Civic were rolled down.  I did not do this.  This happened one other day.  Perplexed, I looked online and found the answer.  Honda made their key fobs with the ability to do this.  If I click on the unlock key twice quickly then hold it down with the third click, the windows roll themselves down.  Apparently I had accidentally done this today and previously.  At least the mystery is solved.  I’m not sure I like this option because if I were to accidentally do this on a rainy or snowy day my car’s interior could be messed up.

 

I’m a little concerned about Lynn’s foot.  This Tuesday will be seven weeks since she broke it.  She still keeps her foot in a boot and reports pain sometimes in the evenings.  She has tried to go a little while without the boot, as directed by her doctor, for the past week but every time she does her foot hurts.  I was hoping that she’d be back to walking a little by now.

 

Without her, I’ve walked very little in the past six and a half weeks.  What’s disappointing is that the weather is starting to be ideal for walking.  This week, for example, there is no rain in the forecast, low humidity, and highs in the 70’s each day.  Today I walked a little over two miles by myself but it just isn’t as much fun as when she walked with me.  We didn’t even talk all the time when we walked but still it is more fun to do it in her company.  Maybe I’m just making an excuse for being lazy now…

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 13      Infected                   Died

World               29,254,001              927,696

US                       6,706,219              198,470

Virginia               133,814                  2,724

Augusta County          423                         4

The US totals are lower than usual.  Virginia still showed 900 new cases.

 

Nearly 5,000,000 acres have now burned in California, Oregon, and Washington.  There are 25 confirmed dead from the fires and there are dozens still missing.  The flames have incincerated at least six entire towns in Oregon.  Actually there are at least 100 different fires burning in ten different states.  From our local church, two of the young members, Brent and Marina Foltz, who are foresters have been sent to the west to help fight the fires.

 

ABC news reported that Pfizer says their vaccine could be ready by the end of the year.  Trump says the US is “rounding the final turn” in fighting the virus but Dr. Fauci disputes that.  Most Americans are skeptical of President Donald Trump’s performance on the coronavirus pandemic — disapproving of his response, disbelieving of his rhetoric on the virus and critical of what they view as his lagging approach to containing it, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday finds.  Trump’s approval for his handling of COVID-19 lands at 35% in the new survey, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, compared to 65% who disapprove. This marks the fourth straight poll with Trump’s COVID response approval hovering in the low-to-mid 30s since early July.

 

September 14, 2020

I spent the entire morning working on my Favorite picture project and finished it.  I discovered that in 2012 I had created a favorite picture folder then so I didn’t have to go back beyond 2013.  I did add some photos including some from the photos I converted in 2019 from old slides to digital, pictures from Jim’s and Kay’s rehearsal dinners that I had scanned of their childhood, and a collection I had of pictures of Lynn and me.  I ended up with 6,592 favorite pictures!  They are all neatly organized now and stored on multiple storage devices including my laptop, downstairs iMac, and external hard drive.  These pictures are one of my greatest possessions because they represent what a good life I’ve had with photos of family and destinations.   I’ll probably keep working on this project, fixing red-eye issues with some of my older photos and removing those pictures which aren’t clear.  All in all I think the result is in pretty good shape and I’m happy with it.

 

My end result is one huge folder called Favorite Pictures.  Inside that folder are these separate folders:  2020 Favorites, 2019 Favorites, 2018 Favorites, 2017 Favorites, 2016 Favorites, 2015 Favorites, 2014 Favorites, 2013 Favorites, 2012 Favorites, 1999 – 2011 Favorites, 1974 – 1980 Favorites, Jim’s Childhood, and Kay’s Childhood.  I know I spent nearly an hour today just watching my screen saver randomly display pictures from these folders.  I do love my pictures…

 

Today was Georgia’s 8th birthday.  We did a Facetime call in the evening with her.  We’ll do our best to go to her birthday party when we know when and where it will be.

 

I had a special Central Zoom meeting called for 7:00 this evening.  It had to do with allowing groups who formerly used our church for their activities plus responding to requests for some other groups to begin using it.  The major question was whether they can immediately resume using the building or should they wait until the morning worship services are scheduled to begin which is currently set for October 4.

 

I walked a little today, about a mile, up and back to Mount Pisgah UMC.    I also weighed this morning and found that I have picked up a couple of pounds.  Lynn went without her boot on her broken foot for a while today but it will still be a long while before we’re able to walk together.

 

Today’s statistics:

September 14      Infected                   Died

World               29,476,635              933,449

US                       6,749,406              199,018

Virginia               134,571                  2,743

Augusta County          429                         4

 

September 15, 2020

Today’s blog may not be very long because basically I spent most of the day working on Central UMC’s finances.  This includes working with Sam Richardson on the annual church audit for 2018 from 9:00 – 12:30, working with Maddie (CUMC Bookkeeper) fixing errors she had made in July in QuickBooks and changing her payroll setup from 12:30 – 2:00, and working at home on the audit again from 6:30 – 8:30.

 

The audit is not a simple process.  Sam and I have done this for many years and it always takes us days to get it done.  Central has money in three banking institutions:  City National where it has three checking accounts that have to be reconciled; First Bank where it has a large endowment which is used for mission funds, large maintenance jobs, and other general funds as necessary; and with Charles Schwab where we have two different investment accounts that are used for the Pastor’s housing allowance and for providing extra money for our apportionments.  In addition, there are two other sources of revenue from former members who left money in an account which pays its interest and dividends to us quarterly.  There are money market funds, United Methodist Women, and United Methodist Men all of which have financial records to be checked.

 

Today, we got January through June checked for all of the above except for the UMM and UMW accounts.  Those two accounts are very easy to audit and will probably take less than a half hour totaled.  But the other accounts each have their own quirks which make the process slow and tedious.

 

To be honest, what we really check with each account is that the bookkeeper and financial institution agree to the penny with all balances at the end of each month.  We also make sure that the numbers which are reported to the congregation by the bookkeeper are accurate.  Keep in mind that the bookkeeper can’t just report what the bank says we have because there might be outstanding checks or credits which aren’t on the bank statement.  So Sam and I check all this and summarize everything in a report for the entire year.

 

A true audit would go further.  It would look at the expenses, for example, to make sure all were appropriate and documented.  We do this kind of detail for the deposits but not for the expenses.  A true audit would check documentation for checks written and make sure that the church’s money is always spent wisely.  This is just too big a job for two old people like Sam and me.  I do not believe that Central’s income or disbursements are tainted in any way by fraud.

 

The only other thing I got done today was to install the solar lights we bought for the pergola.  We bought a string of lights containing 15 bulbs which are powered by a solar collector and connected by a 48 foot long cord.  I used metal cup holders to string the lights around the pergola’s braces at its top.  That way the lights can be easily removed in the winter.  The lights are mostly ornamental; they do not provide enough light to read by, for example, but they do keep those who are swinging from being in the pitch dark.  However, if we want pitch dark there is an on/off switch that can be flipped.

 

Lynn and I have discovered two very cheap ways to purchase prepared food.  For the three previous nights, our main meat course has been chicken.  All three nights’ supply of chicken came from the purchase of a single broiled chicken at Costco for $5.49.  Tonight we picked up our dinner from Cracker Barrel.  We both like their country ham meals.  We each get two country ham biscuits.  She gets a hash brown casserole and I get fried apples.  We also asked for three extra biscuits with jelly.  The total cost for this dinner for both of us was approximately $10.00.

 

Lynn had more IEP meeting interpreting today and is scheduled to do another one tomorrow.  Without her help, these meeting would not be taking place.  She does them all virtually so they’re easy for her to “attend.”  As I’ve said before, she is amazing in converting the English conversations and documents to/from Spanish, all on the fly.

 

COVID-19 is inching closer to us, I’m afraid.  Today Ann called us before Freddie got here on the bus and told us to be sure to keep him outside when he arrived.  It turns out that his elementary school, Clymore Elementary, has now had its first positive case.  All the parents were called, I understand, and she was told that Freddie was not in contact with the infected person.  Augusta County has had cases in four or five schools now.  I wonder how long it will be until the schools revert to 100% virtual….  I don’t know the answer to that but I’ll simply add that I hope they do before I get coronavirus.

 

On the one hand, it feels like the virus is stalking us, getting closer all the time.  On the other hand, if, indeed, our grandchildren aren’t within 10 feet of an infected person then they are as safe as if they weren’t within 10 miles of him, I suppose.  They’ve been within 10 miles of hundreds of infections lately, I’m sure.

 

Here are today’s numbers:

September 15      Infected                   Died

World               29,715,502              938,406

US                       6,787,737              200,178

Virginia               135,514                  2,839

Augusta County          437                         7

The local death numbers are frighteningly higher.  Virginia’s death total in one day increased by 96.  The Augusta County death total had been at 4 since July 28.  Today it jumped to 7.  The Virginia Department of Health had this announcement on its website today: “Regarding the death data for Tuesday, September 15, 2020, there is an existing data backlog.  VDH is working diligently to identify COVID-19 related deaths using vital record death certificate information.”  What do they mean?  Are there really more fatalities??

 

ABC news had this story on its website today: “An August 7 wedding and reception in Maine’s Millinocket region has been connected to 176 coronavirus cases, according to the state.  Seven coronavirus-related deaths have been linked to the wedding, according to Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. None of those seven people attended the wedding, Maine’s CDC said.”  The way I read this is that a wedding was held with little or no regard to coronavirus safety.  The attendees then returned to their homes and spread COVID-19 to 176 people, 7 of whom have now died.  We’ve seen this repeated in so many similar ways:   a choir practice in Washington, a funeral in Georgia, and now a wedding in Maine.  What if the next scenario is a classroom in Virginia….

 

Tonight on ABC Trump held a town meeting with so-called undecided voters.  Really?  Is there anyone in America who hasn’t decided who he will vote for by now?

 

So much for this blog being shorter than I expected…

 

September 16, 2020

Our stupid President said during last night’s town hall meeting that coronavirus would just “go away.”  He contradicted himself saying he didn’t downplay the pandemic even after he was heard on tape telling Bob Woodward that he did exactly that.  He showed his ignorance by saying America would develop “herd mentality” without a vaccine when the correct term is “herd immunity” even though this won’t happen unless a majority of Americans are vaccinated.  Yet he is the one who calls Biden mentally incompetent.  How can anyone, ANYONE support this man?  I have no understanding whatsoever how a clear thinking adult can vote for him to return as President.  Those who did so the first time can be forgiven but I’ll have much more trouble with forgiveness the second time.  I know that’s not the Christian attitude but I am hoping we’ll get a much more Christian-like man in the office.

 

Sam and I worked from 8:30 until 1:30 but we got 99% of the audit behind us.  My work late last night helped make the morning go faster.  All we have left to do is to audit the United Methodist Women’s checking account which will only take a few minutes.  Sam and I are scheduled to do the weekly count this coming Monday so we’ll just finish the audit after we do the count.  I’m glad to have this behind us.

 

When I got home I cut our grass.  I can’t get over how often I’ve had to do that this year.  We have little to no rain forecast for the next week so maybe it will slow down now.  I hope so.

 

President Trump contradicted the CDC director Robert Redfield today.  Redfield said most Americans won’t get a vaccine until well into 2021.  Trump said he was planning on shipping doses in October.  Redfield said that it will not be generally available to the public until mid-2021.  Trump said he made a mistake when he said that and called Redfield confused.

 

In the town hall last night, Trump said some Americans don’t want to wear masks.  The CDC director said that they were the most important tool we have.  He said that it is more guaranteed to protect him than a vaccine.  Trump again said Redfield is wrong.  This is his own CDC director that he contradicted twice today.

 

ABC news had an online article entitled “Wall Street does not represent Main Street.”  In the town hall meeting, Trump showed that he is pathetically ignorant about most Americans’ finances.  Here’s what he said: “Stocks are owned by everybody,” he said. “I mean, you know, they talk about the stock market is so good. That’s 401(k)s.”  Trump claimed the benefits of the stock market directly benefit everyone, when in fact the vast majority of stocks are owned by the rich. The wealthiest top 10% of American households own over 80% of stocks, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, and almost half of U.S. households don’t own any stock at all, including 401(k)s, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances. The unemployment rate skyrocketed from around 3% pre-pandemic to nearly 15% in April. It now sits at 8.4%, meaning more than half of the Americans who lost their jobs are still out of work. Consumer confidence is also down — a measure that show Main Street is struggling even if Wall Street is staying afloat.  Trump only cares about Wall Street, not the American public.  How can the rest of the population not see this?

 

Here are today’s statistics:

September 16      Infected                   Died

World               29,996,527              944,148

US                       6,824,089              201,231

Virginia               136,359                  2,884

Augusta County          443                         7

We’re back to same old, same old.  Over a thousand more deaths in the US in just one day.  Another 800 cases in Virginia.  Forty five more deaths in Virginia.

 

The wildfires in the west continue to ravage homes and businesses.  Entire cities have been burned.  The air quality there is awful.  Skies all the way to the east coast have a haze to them from the fires.

 

Tonight was Zoom night.  Kay joined in as did Jim.  Faron, Coen, Thomas, and Georgia had cameo appearances.  It was a good, though short, call.

 

September 17, 2020

It seems like every day I have more news to report about Trump’s stupidity and poor performance as our nation’s President.  Today is no exception.  In a news conference yesterday he blamed the Democratic states for the COVID-19 high numbers.  “So we’re down in this territory,” Trump said, pointing to a graph that the White House first unveiled in the spring which showed two estimated ranges of possible death tolls depending on efforts to slow the spread of the virus. “And that’s despite the fact that the blue states had had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level. But some of the states, they were blue states and blue state-managed.”

 

The only bit of truth to this comment is that initially New York and New Jersey, both democratically controlled states, had the highest coronavirus cases and deaths.  And California, another blue state, now has high numbers.  But how about Texas and Florida, both red states?   The Washington Post jumped on this.  In an article today, the Post said “It is true that the early surge in deaths was heavily weighted toward states that had voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. New York and New Jersey in particular recorded hundreds of deaths a day in April, quickly contributing to the country’s total number of fatalities.  Over time, though, the percentage of total deaths that have occurred in blue states has dropped. The most recent data, through Tuesday, indicates that about 53 percent of deaths have occurred in blue states — meaning that 47 percent have occurred in red ones.”  The article goes on to say “In other words, more than 90,000 deaths have occurred in red states. If that were the country’s total, we would have seen the second-most number of deaths globally, trailing only Brazil. The United States would still be responsible for 11 percent of global deaths, despite constituting only about 4 percent of the world’s population.

Why has the ratio of blue-state to red-state deaths shifted? Because most of the newly occurring deaths are happening in red states. Since mid-June, a majority of the new coronavirus deaths each day have occurred in red states. Since mid-July at least 70 percent have.”

 

So the death rate is now rapidly declining in blue states and rising in red states.  Is anyone surprised by this?  Trump has rallies with thousands of people in attendance with no social distancing, no masks.  The example he sets is as a COVID-19 super spreader.   Republican governors have a hands-off attitude regarding requiring masks.

 

Trump is always trying to find a Democrat to blame for his own failures.  Sometimes it’s Barack Obama, sometimes it’s Joe Biden, sometimes it’s Nancy Pelosi, sometimes it’s Chuck Shumer, sometimes it’s the Democratic governors, and sometimes it is groups which have high percentages of Democrats such as the Black Lives Matter people.  His own family turns against him.  Many former Republican politicians now endorse Biden.  Why, oh why, do people still support this maniacal, self-absorbed, rude, intolerant, lying, egotistical, unsympathetic, uncaring, racist, narcissist, bullyish, arrogant, incompetent, unqualified, elitist man?  He is, without a doubt, the worst politician at any level I have known in my lifetime.  He is the antithesis of what a President should be.

 

Joe Biden had a comment today I fully agree with: “I trust vaccines.  I trust scientists.  But I do not trust Donald Trump.”

 

ABC news tonight had more about the dispute between Trump and CDC Director Robert Redfield.  Trump is claiming the vaccine will be available before the election and readily available then.  As I said yesterday, Trump said Redfield was “confused.”  The top medical experts backed Redfield.  Dr. Fauci said the general population won’t get the vaccine until the middle of 2021.  This is also what the head of Trump’s own “Operation Warp Speed” said—middle of 2021.  ABC said that of the eight companies working on a vaccine, just three are in the final stages of trials.  Only one, Pfizer, says it may know next month if its vaccine is safe and effective or not.  I’ve been saying that the pharmaceutical people are not the ones to trust because they are definitely in Trump’s camp.  They don’t want anyone with any sort of affection for universal health care to be in office because it would erode some of their monumental personal profits.

 

ABC also reports that a poll from the Pugh Research Center said that only 51% would take a vaccine if it were released now.  In May this figure was 72%.  Those who changed their mind say their fear that the vaccine would be rushed through the approval process for political reasons.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 17      Infected                   Died

World               30,310,507              949,702

US                       6,868,530              202,112

Virginia               137,460                  2,920

Augusta County          452                         7

Another 900 more deaths in the US and 1,000 more cases in Virginia.  36 new deaths in Virginia.  ABC news tonight said that Europe is seeing a resurgence in cases; many countries have put into effect more stringent quarantine requirements.  There were over 5,000 deaths in the world in the past 24 hours due to COVID-19.

 

Yes, I have gotten some things done today in addition to watching the news about COVID-19 and ranting about Trump.  I’ve got the church audit ready to be printed and shared as soon as we go through the UMW checkbook.  I’ve almost finished Central’s budget for 2021.  All of these things have to be done before our annual Charge Conference which is scheduled on September 29.  That’s why Pastor Won is urging all of us involved with it to complete our reports as soon as possible.

 

I also did some standard computer work today such as making a Time Machine backup of my new laptop and synching my iPhone with a reduced song list on it to free up some room on it.  My iPhone only has 16 GB of storage so I fill it up easily.  I also helped Lynn submit an application to the Greenbrier “Dream Tree for Kids” program which provides Christmas presents to children in poverty.  She submitted a last minute application on behalf of Central UMC.  Sometime in December we’ll go to the Greenbrier to help wrap presents with this program as we’ve done for many years.

 

Finally, after dinner, Lynn and I went to the Walgreen’s pharmacy in Verona and got our flu shots.  This is earlier than we usually do but we’ve read a lot about the special need to get this vaccination this year because no one wants to get both the flu and coronavirus.  We celebrated getting our vaccine by going to Smiley’s for ice cream!

 

We were scheduled to have more neighborhood friends over tonight to visit in our pergola, Dave and Teri Grembi.  However, it rained from early afternoon on so their visit was postponed until tomorrow night.

 

Lynn is trying to go without her foot brace now.  She reports some pain but is definitely getting around better.  I sure hope she’s well on her way back to normal.  I look forward to walking with her again.

 

September 18, 2020

I’m surprised at how busy I was today when the calendar had zero items on it for me today.  I decided early on to go to the Greenville dump and take the metal barrel that has been in our back yard for at least twenty years.  It had a little fuel oil in it from the occasion we had years and years ago to replace our in-ground tank.  I thought I was going to have to wait until Augusta County has one of those special hazardous waste days to take it.  Ironically, that day is tomorrow and since I’m going to Roanoke to get Jim’s lawn mower I couldn’t take it to the Government Center then.  So I called the Service Authority and was told I could bring it to the Greenville dump, pour the fuel oil in a canister they have to gather used oil, then drop the barrel in the metal recycling location there.  I also loaded up a broken down kid’s bike and some old lawnmower batteries.  By 9:15 I had deposited everything where it was supposed to go at the dump—a very successful trip.

 

I went from there to Central UMC.  I had noticed some things on a report the bookkeeper had done for August that weren’t right and I wanted to fix them myself.  She doesn’t work on Fridays so I knew I’d have the treasurer’s computer to myself.  It took me a couple of hours but I got it done (except for a misplaced 10¢ that I just couldn’t locate).  I sent her a note that I wanted to go over some of what I’d done on Monday morning when Sam Richardson and I are there for the weekly count and to complete our audit.

 

When I got home in the afternoon I did a few chores Lynn wanted me to do including planting some bushes that the Myers had brought to us this morning.  Then I decided to get my trailer attached to the truck so it would be ready to head out early tomorrow morning.

 

A problem showed up…the lights didn’t work on the trailer.  I had used it about a month ago and it all worked fine then but today I couldn’t get the trailer lights to come on.  This bothered me because I wanted it to be working well for my trip down I-81 tomorrow morning.  So I hopped in and headed to Staunton to the Leonard USA place where I had originally bought the trailer.  They’ve done other work on it in the past.  Today was a very interesting experience:

 

When I got there, it was obviously open but I had trouble finding anyone working.  Finally one man came out and I explained my issue to him.  He stopped whatever he was doing and walked out to the garage section of their property and got some electrical tools.  In the meantime, other customers drove up and he had to leave me waiting to go wait on them.  I quickly figured out that he was the only person working at Leonard today.  After he came back to my truck, perhaps fifteen minutes later, he used his equipment to first determine if the fault was somewhere within the trailer itself.  No, the lights worked fine when he connected them to a battery source.  He wondered if the truck had a blown fuse so we then located the fuses associated with the trailer connection on my Toyota Tacoma but all of the fuses checked out OK.  I had suspected that the problem was the harness that connects the trailer to the truck.  It is a removable part about 6” long.  He went back inside his store, brought out a new one but it worked only sporadically—for example, only one side of the trailer’s lights came on.  He went back inside (a pretty good walk from where my truck was) and came back with a second candidate.  Same problem.  He must have spent 45 minutes diagnosing the issue and finally told me that for sure the problem was in that harness but his replacements must be bad.  He said I should just take the trailer to Auto Zone and buy a replacement one there.  I asked him how much I owed him for his time and effort.  He said nothing.  I mildly objected but decided to take his advice.

 

I drove to Auto Zone.  The person working there found the replacement part for me instantly.  It cost only $10.  I went back to the truck, connected the truck and trailer with this replacement harness, and my lights all came on.  Sure enough, the Leonard employee’s diagnosis was spot on.  Rather than drive home, I drove back to Leonard, showed him that everything was working fine, and this time I insisted that he take $20 in cash for his help.  I felt like I had done the right thing because he is the one who solved my problem.  He still hesitated to take it but this time I insisted and he did.  I feel like it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a while.

 

Early voting started in Virginia today.  Lynn and I are definitely going to vote early—perhaps next week.  Our plan is to vote then go to Smiley’s to celebrate.  Sounds like a good thing to do.

 

Here are today’s coronavirus statistics:

September 18      Infected                   Died

World               30,608,969              954,271

US                       6,914,405              203,013

Virginia               138,702                  2,949

Augusta County          454                         7

A note on the Virginia Department of Health website says “VDH is working diligently to identify COVID-19 related deaths through vital record death certificate information. A backlog of death data is expected to be added from September 15 through September 21.”  In the past 24 hours, Virginia has added over 1,200 new cases and 29 more deaths.  Can you believe that the world now has over 30 million cases?  Another 5,000 new deaths were recorded yesterday world-wide.  The US had 50,000 more cases and 1,000 more deaths.

 

Augusta County Schools has confirmed that the case at Clymore Elementary had to do with an employee.  This is from WHSV news: “In a letter to parents on Thursday, Augusta County Public Schools Superintendent Eric Bond confirmed a staff member at Clymore Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19.  The letter states it is believed the individual contracted the virus within the community.  Bond said the local health department determined there was limited exposure to students and their families have been contacted. He also stated that the areas the COVID-19 positive individual occupied in the school have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.”  I certainly hope Freddie was not near any of these areas.

 

This afternoon Lynn had to help her mother with dinner.  We ate a hasty dinner of toasted cheese sandwiches featuring her freshly baked bread and fresh tomatoes.  Then we got ready for company as Dave and Teri Grembi came over to chat in our pergola.

 

We just got the news tonight that Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died.  This is so sad.  She was a marvelous influence on the Supreme Court and America in general.

 

In February of 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died.  One month later, in March, President Obama nominated Merritt Garland to fill the vacancy.  Republican senate leaders, most notably Mitch McConnell, said that they would not approve of any nomination prior to the election since 2016 was an election year.  Here’s exactly what McConnell said:  “The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.” Do you think he’ll say the same thing now, especially since this is seven months later than Obama’s nomination?  Fat chance.  He’ll try to railroad a Republican judge through in record time.  He’s got no interest in letting the American people have their say.  I’m going to be more than furious if this happens.

 

More bad news tonight.  Virginia had its first case of a teenager dying from coronavirus.  The details are sketchy but it appears that the teenager lived in the southside area, south of Roanoke, perhaps in the Brunswick area.

 

September 19, 2020

Today turned out to be one of the best days we’ve had in ages.  All three of our kids were home today.  Jim came up to help cut my grass, see his sisters, and visit his grandmother.  Kay brought Georgia and Thomas.  The two of them went with Lynn to visit Lynn’s Mom who was doing fairly well today.  Ann sent flowers.

 

While they visited with Mrs. Hanger, I had Thomas and Georgia here.  Thomas had a zoom Tae Kwon Do class meeting.  Georgia and I chatted.  She is such a fluent and well spoken eight-year-old!

 

Afterwards, all of us headed to Mt. Crawford where we met Ann and family at the Overlook Farms corn maze.  The corn maze turned out to be a great event—all twelve of us did it and had a great time.  The weather was sunny though cool.  Afterwards, we all went to Smiley’s for ice cream, then to Overlook Produce to buy some vegetables.  Then all of us came back here where the adults sat on the pergola and chatted while the kids had a great time playing in the back yard.

 

It was a great afternoon.  Everyone got along well and had a good time.  We concluded with take-out dinner from Chicano Boy though Kay and her kids had gone back home by then.

 

I signed an online petition today to demand that the next Supreme Court justice be chosen by the newly elected President.  Hundreds of thousands of people signed that today.  I seriously doubt that it will have any influence whatsoever on such worthless individuals as Mitch McConnell but it was the least I could do.

 

Here are today’s COVID-19 statistics:

September 19      Infected                   Died

World               30,975,747              960,863

US                       6,967,389              203,824

Virginia               139,655                  2,990

Augusta County          460                         7

Yikes, another 41 new deaths in Virginia in the past 24 hours.  The site says it is trying to get caught up on this data but the numbers are still frightening.

 

Just when everything seemed to be going great today, I got a notice from Pastor Won that he wouldn’t have his sermon on YouTube in time for tomorrow morning but that he hoped to have it done by Monday.  I decided to update our church’s website with this information.  When I did so, I saw that there were three “plug-ins” on WordPress that needed to be updated.  Usually all I have to do is to click the update button and everything is fine.  But tonight when I did that the website suddenly was messed up.  All you got when you tried to access the church’s website was this ugly message that said “Parse error:  syntax error etc.”  Worse yet, I couldn’t get back in to WordPress to edit anything.  I called GoDaddy, which hosts the site.  I was on hold for about 45 minutes before I talked to a person.  That person tried to help but could get no further than I did, so I got passed to a second person.  After another lengthy hold on the phone, tech support person Michael answered and took care of our messed up website.  I am SO thankful!  Plus he gave me good advice on making a local backup of the site and switching to a different hosting service at GoDaddy which would have prevented this error from having occurred.  I can go to sleep now—before Michael I was too worried to.

 

September 20, 2020

Exactly five months ago I began this blog, writing that I was like a baseball writer covering a ball game starting after the game had begun but noting that I didn’t know which inning we were in.  I think we’re now in one of the middle innings.  Vaccines are being talked about more and more but none is out yet though rumbles exist of one or more coming soon.  The game is still being fiercely contested and perhaps our side trying to take the lead from COVID-19 team despite the many hits and runs scored by the opposition.  Our team has been plagued by lots of errors.

 

The news today is full of stories about the fallout about the next Supreme Court justice’s appointment to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  It’s a shame that instead of celebrating this lady’s wonderful life and legacy the rhetoric is now all about her successor.

 

Here’s the textbook definition of hypocrisy:  the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.  Many Republican senators preached in 2016 that we should “Let the people decide…wait until after the election to nominate the Supreme Court justice” and promised “we will not approve a nomination during an election year.”  Indeed, they did not even allow Obama’s nominee Merritt Garland’s to even get a hearing for eight months prior to the 2016 election.  Now those same senators have in mind to railroad through a Trump nominee in near record time just to beat the November 3 election.  Hypocrisy, pure and simple.

 

Of course, I personally cannot prevent this from happening.  But I will do whatever I can to help, whether it is the donation of some money or protesting in public.

 

One CNN reporter today commented about how this situation has magnified the divisiveness in America.  Indeed, we’re becoming more than a two party system; we’re becoming a two sided war.  This is sad.

 

Today I reflected about some of the people I have known in my past besides family members.  In particular, I thought a lot about the Rockingham County Public Schools technology staff that I led.  I hired every one of them.  They were quite diverse.  Many had habits or lives outside of work that I would never have.  One was a chain smoker.  Several loved to gather one night each week at a local pub to drink beer.  Two were avid motorcycle riders.  One was a Seventh Day Adventist.  One spoke very poor English when she was hired.  One was the son of a local mega-millionaire.  Each had his/her peculiarities.  However, all were good human beings.  All were good workers, good hearted-people.  Our bond was that we had a common goal to provide the best technology service we could provide for staff and students.  It didn’t matter that we were different people.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he had a dream that a person would be judged by his character, not the color of his skin.  I think that the same can be generalized to say that a person should be judged by his/her character regardless of what other circumstances there might be.  My tech staff is a good example.  They were good people regardless of the differences we had.

 

So here’s my point.  So many people are treating this election as a one-issue election.  For example, if you’re against abortion, then you’re voting for Trump.  If you own a lot of stocks and bonds, you’re voting for Trump.  I believe every voter should look at the character of each candidate, the full spectrum of what each person stands for.  If this is done, how on earth can anyone, ANYONE choose Trump?  He stands for hypocrisy, dishonesty, white supremacy, arrogance, … sorry, I shouldn’t get started on these descriptors again.

 

Governor Northram says that the COVID-19 positivity rate has been decreasing in the state.  He said, as I’ve been reporting here, that there are 1,000 new cases each day statewide and testing has a 6.8% positivity rate.  Southwest Virginia is somewhat of a hotbed with a 8.1% positivity rate.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

September 20      Infected                   Died

World               31,219,214              964,735

US                       7,000,896              204,115

Virginia               140,511                  3,015

Augusta County          462                         7

Tonight was Covenant Group night at our house.  We had eight at our pergola:  Tom and Connie Davis, John Myers, Bill and Martha Bushman, John Bauman, Lynn, and me.  It was a chilly night for us to meet but we bundled up and started earlier than usual, 6:00.  We’ve been discussing Francis Collins’ book, The Language of God.  Bill and Martha were high school classmates of Francis Collins at R. E. Lee High School in Staunton.

 

September 21, 2020

Brrrr, the weather is much colder now, unseasonably cold.  Some places in the area had frost this morning.  We were in the high 30’s.  We’ve made good use of our fireplace propane insert to heat up the kitchen.  The forecast for the week is for warming temperatures, thankfully, and no rain.

 

Today was a Central UMC counting day for me.  Sam and I made the bank deposit for Central and finished our audit of the church’s finances.  I had hoped to then spend time working with the bookkeeper Maddie but she had called in sick.  So I helped the custodian with am e-mail issue, finished up some work I needed to do on the Central budget, submitted the report I was required to submit for Central’s finances, and came home.

 

I got home just in time to grab a bite of lunch and return to Central, this time in my truck.  First I stopped at the Food Bank in Verona and loaded up 838 pounds of food for our Food Pantry.  At Central there were plenty of people waiting to help unload it.  I  was back home before 2:00.

 

Lynn and I then went to the Government Center and voted.  The actual election is still over 40 days away but we wanted to make sure our votes counted no matter what may happen between now and then.  Plus, by voting now we thought it would be safer from coronavirus.  Actually there was a line of about ten people ahead of us but the process went smoothly and quickly.  I’m proud to possess a sticker that says “I Voted.”  I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people in line to vote.  Yes, this is rural Virginia so many of them probably didn’t vote the way I wanted them to but at least they took part.  We’ll see how things come out November 3.  Actually, we may not know the final result of the election until a few days afterwards.

 

I then dropped Lynn off at The Legacy to see her Mom while I waited in the parking lot.  When she had finished we went to Aldi’s to buy a few groceries.  Aldi’s is one of the safer stores around here regarding mask wearing.

 

Here’s an interesting article from ABC news:  As President Donald Trump continues to tout the progress of the coronavirus vaccine development, going so far this week as to promise delivery to everyone in the U.S. by the spring, a majority of Americans report having no confidence at all in him to confirm the safety of a potential inoculation, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday. Fewer than 1 in 10 — 9% — Americans have a great deal of confidence in Trump to confirm the vaccine’s effectiveness, with another 18% reporting only a “good amount” of confidence. In contrast, 69% don’t have confidence in the president vouching for a vaccine, with 16% saying “not so much” and 53% saying “none at all.”

 

Also on ABC news:  President Donald Trump on Monday gave himself an “A+” grade on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he and his administration had done a “phenomenal job” even as the death toll neared 200,000 Americans. Once again, he bucked all the experts by ambiguously promising “you’ll have” a vaccine “long before the end of the year, maybe, maybe by the end of October.”  In reality, the only thing public health officials and experts have said could possibly happen by the end of October — under a best-case scenario — would be one or more pharmaceutical companies obtaining enough data from ongoing vaccine trials for regulators at the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate whether the vaccine was safe and effective. If they approve its use, only then could a vaccine start to be rolled out to Americans on a limited basis.

 

Here are today’s statistics:

September 21      Infected                   Died

World               31,471,337              968,905

US                       7,046,135              204,506

Virginia               141,138                  3,021

Augusta County          469                         7

 

September 22, 2020

Today we made an early morning run to Costco to get some items for ourselves and for Lynn’s friend Cheryl Wright.  We shopped during the senior hour, 9:00 – 10:00.

 

The Republicans say they have enough Senators on board to approve Trump’s nominee prior to the election.  If they do, I say that Democrats should not forget this and make them pay big when the tables are turned, perhaps after the election.  Indeed, it is possible that after November 3 the House, Senate, and Presidency will all be Democratically controlled.  If this happens, let the paybacks begin.  Nancy Pelosi says she has “lots of arrows in her quiver” though she hasn’t said exactly what’s there.  I’m sure there will be many ways of extracting revenge.  How unfortunate!  This could all have been avoided if the Republicans would just stick to the exact words they uttered in 2016.

 

From ABC news this morning:  An internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency shows that the number of new cases and the number of new deaths recorded in the United States are both increasing in week-over-week comparisons. Twenty-three U.S. states and territories are in an upward trajectory of COVID-19 infections, while 14 jurisdictions are at plateau and 19 others are in a downward trend, the memo said. There were 283,332 new cases confirmed across the nation during the period of Sept 14-20, a 17.2% jump from the previous week. Meanwhile, 5,319 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded during that same period, a 2.4% increase compared with the seven days prior, according to the memo.

 

Isn’t it amazing that it is not a big news item that our President has lied to the public?  He does this so often that we have become used to it and it becomes a non-news item.  Yesterday he falsely claimed at a Monday night campaign rally that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody” below the age of 18 and is mainly a risk to elderly people with heart problems and other preexisting conditions.   ABC news reported that in Florida’s Alachua County, 90% of recently reported cases are among individuals between the ages of 15 and 25, and 70% of those cases are college students, according to the memo.  Trump should tell his lies to the family in southern Virginia where a teenager died last week from COVID-19 or to the family of the California PA College football player who died after contracting it.  Pennsylvania’s Centre County, home to Pennsylvania State University, remains a COVID-19 hotspot, reporting a 291.3% relative increase in new cases during the period of Sept. 9-15 compared with the previous week. The county’s hospitals are under strain, with inpatient beds at 88% capacity and intensive care unit beds at 81% capacity, the memo said.  But wait, how could those hospital beds be filling up when it affects no young people?  We have a buffoon for a President.  How many ways can I say this?

 

Later today ABC amplified the previous story with this data:  Since March, evidence has been building that young people aren’t as impervious to coronavirus as initially thought. According to the CDC Covid Data tracker, a recent analysis of 143,273 deaths revealed that 843, about 0.6%, occurred in people younger than 30, while 88, about 0.06%, occurred in people younger than 18.

 

Johns Hopkins now says more than 200,000 Americans have died due to coronavirus.  The source I use, worldometers.info, has the American count at over 205,000.  Either way, that’s way too many.

 

I wrote about our Covenant Group was reading Francis Collins’ book on Sunday night and commented how he was well known to some of our group.  Now he is head of the NIH and today had this quote: “We ought to all look at the evidence and then make an individual decision to live up to that, because that’s our best hope. Until that vaccine is in hand, and lots of people have been able to receive it, we’ve got many more months yet with lives at risk. And the best way to save them is for us all to take this on our own shoulders.”

 

As told by her niece who recorded their conversation, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said her dying wish was to “not be replaced until a new president is installed.”  Today it is very apparent this will not be the case.  Trump promised he would nominate someone by Saturday.  The Republican leadership, under Lindsay Graham and Mitch McConnell, have promised that a vote would happen before the election.  As I’ve said before, these are the same two low-life hypocrites who in 2016 said that no judge should be appointed during an election year.

 

In lamenting the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths in America, ABC news tonight pointed out that COVID-19 cases are still rising in 33 states (Virginia is not one of them).  Deaths are rising in 15 states. The US has 4% of the world’s population but more than 20% of the coronavirus deaths.  Meanwhile, tonight Trump is heading to another big rally in Pennsylvania where almost no one will be wearing a mask.

 

Here are today’s statistics from worldometers.info:

September 22      Infected                   Died

World               31,741,884              973,930

US                       7,094,558              205,379

Virginia               142,010                  3,060

Augusta County          469                         7

Same old story:  5,000 more worldwide deaths, nearly 1,000 more American deaths, and 39 more Virginia deaths since yesterday.

 

September 23, 2020

Central’s secretary/bookkeeper, who was on the verge of losing her job for excessive absences earlier this month, has now missed all three days of work this week.  I think her future at CUMC is in serious jeopardy.  That means I may need to step up with QuickBooks.  I’m certainly not looking for a job now, especially that one, but I’ll do what I can do help Central.

 

Lynn is having issues with the Waynesboro High School student she’s been tutoring for the past two years.  WHS is 100% virtual now but he is not participating as he is expected to.  Their classes are synchronous which means he’s got to be online when the class is being taught.  He has a Chromebook at home and supposedly has Xfinity internet service.  He sometimes joins his English class but claims he can’t connect to this ESL class.  The teachers communicate via e-mail with Lynn so she is keeping up with his poor grades due to lack o