Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Three Score and Five Years Ago

Today is my 65th birthday. I am officially a card-carrying member of Medicare. It is hard to comprehend that I am of that age. I certainly don't feel it, and many people say I don't look it. Most years I don't give too much thought to the new number I become on October 28th, but somehow applying for Medicare changes all that.

For the last 5 or so years we have traveled for my birthday, normally on a cruise with our old (perhaps I should say long-time?) friends from high school and college. This year travel is off the table due to COVID. We do plan to go out to dinner but will go early. It is rainy so we will have to eat inside. Last year on my birthday the moving truck arrived with all of our St. Louis belongings. After the movers left, we found a Mexican restaurant to try for my birthday dinner. It was large, clean, and had great food and margaritas. We will go there and see if it seems "safe" to dine in.

This afternoon I composed the poem below and placed it on one of the photos I took in Hilton Head early this year before the coronavirus shut the country down.

Happy birthday to me

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Phase 3 and Holding

Last week Governor Cooper decided to keep North Carolina in Phase 3, which we entered on October 2nd. That was to expire on October 23rd, but with the increase (again) in cases, he decided to keep the mandates in place for an additional three weeks. 

Here is where things stand: Today marks day 159 of Safer at Home and day 216 of overall restrictions. The number of cases continues to be grim. To date, North Carolina has had 262,000 cases and 4,200 deaths. In the United States there have been 8.78 million cases and 226,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 43.6 million cases and 1.16 million deaths. 

Experts are predicting that here in the United States we are going into a two to three month period where the growth in cases will be exponential. Part of the increase in numbers will no doubt be the result of holiday gatherings. Whether it is college students heading home or families congregating to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and other occasions, get togethers inside put everyone at a higher risk of exposure. But after eight long months of being separated from loved ones, it will be hard to convince Americans that they can't get together to participate in their normal holiday activities. After all, no one likes a Grinch.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Covid Voting

Today was our first time voting in our new state of North Carolina. In Missouri you had to have a stellar reason for not being able to vote in person before you could obtain an absentee ballot. Here, no reason is necessary. In light of Covid-19, we decided not to risk voting in person. We had submitted via email a request for absentee ballots, which arrived in the mail in a prompt manner. Then we studied the ballot and researched our various choices for the different offices or positions. We are quite unfamiliar with the various candidates for state and county offices since we haven't lived here that long.

After we completed the ballots and had them witnessed, we drove them to the Gaston County Board of Elections office so that we could drop them off in person. With the contentious nature of politics these days, I did not trust putting the ballots in the mail. When we arrived, the parking lot was a zoo! There were no spots, and cars were circling the lot waiting for others to leave. There was a long line of cars, and a sign that said "Curbside Voting". What the heck is that? We assumed it didn't mean us since we were just dropping off. 

On my second trip through the lot, I asked a man sitting in a chair behind his car if he knew where we were supposed to go. He was dressed head to toe in support of his presidential candidate, so I guess he was trying to influence the long line of folks waiting to vote in person. He was very kind in telling us which door to approach, and even offered to let me park next to him while we dropped the ballots off. "As long as we were voting the right way," he added with a smirk.

outside the Board of Elections office
We headed to the proper door, masks in place. We rang a bell, and a woman came out with a clipboard and a piece of paper we had to fill out, establishing who was dropping off the ballot(s). Once we completed that, we were on our way. Easy-peasy, once we knew where to go. The only thing I felt bad about was the fact that we didn't get an "I Voted" sticker. I like to wear mine with pride.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Masks R Us

 We are two weeks into Phase 3 in North Carolina, and coronavirus case numbers continue to climb. Later next week Governor Cooper will announce whether the state will remain in this phase, or perhaps regress to one of the earlier phases. Regardless of what he does, I think mandatory mask wearing is here to stay for quite a while. That being the case, I decided to go ahead and make some seasonal masks for myself.

Recently I completed a Halloween, fall, two Christmas, and winter masks. I'm trying to maintain my sense of "glass half full" attitude, so I didn't go on to Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day, or beyond that to Easter. Hopefully those fabrics will only have to come out if I decide to make a holiday-themed quilt. I still don't enjoy wearing a mask for long periods of time, but at least I am giving others something fun to look at while I'm doing it!

holiday face masks

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Finding Fall


maples in St. Louis
One of the things I miss about living in the Midwest is the incredible fall foliage we experienced. Even walking around our neighborhood you could see a burst of colors from red, to orange to yellow. We moved during the fall last year, and the colors were poor to say the least. North Carolina had been in a drought, so that impacted the changing leaves. Even a drive to the higher elevations did not result in any pretty colors to photograph.

Tuesday we decided to see what colors were happening in the Beech Mountain area, which is about a two and a half hour drive from here. The colors were fairly vibrant, but mostly yellows. I guess that there are not too many maples in North Carolina. I want to research that a bit, as I would like to plant a couple in our yard if they can grow okay here.

At any rate, it was a pretty day for a drive. It looks like COVID will limit our travel for the foreseeable future. Our coronacations will consist of local drives for the most part. Luckily, our location is great for making day trips to see the beauty of this state.

leaf peepers

One year ago today we signed the closing papers on our new home on Mountain Island Lake. I have not regretted for one moment our decision to make the momentous move from the city that had been our home for our entire 41 years of married life to a place where we knew no one. It has been an incredible journey!

signing the papers

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Waves of Grief

sunrise on Mountain Island Lake
For the most part, I think I am still in denial about the fact that my only sister is dead. But for some reason, last Tuesday reality hit me like a tsunami. My husband was out of town, and I woke up very early in the morning. Sensing that additional sleep was out of the question, I made some hot tea, got dressed, and then grabbed my camera to catch the sunrise on the lake. 

I felt my sister's presence as I watched the night turn into day. It was comforting but sad at the same time. I wish that she had gotten the opportunity to come here for a visit as she would have loved sitting and looking at the lake with me. Thanks to COVID, she was not able to do any traveling as she was afraid of contracting the virus.

All day I felt very weepy, though a call from my niece helped as we could talk about the way we are both trying to deal with Kathy's untimely passing. Planting some fall flowers made me feel better, but playing pickleball with my ladies group here in the community was just a bit too overwhelming for me. I left after a few games. Maybe I just felt guilty for living when my sister had her life cut short. 

After I got home, my phone buzzed with a message from one of the sweetest women in my neighborhood. She said she had left something on the porch for me. Opening the door, I found a lovely card and a beautiful plant. She wanted to tell me that she and her husband were thinking about me. I texted her to let her know her timing could not have been more perfect as I had been feeling so down. It was a gentle reminder to me that I should be appreciative and enjoy my time with the living before it is too late.

sympathy greetings from friends

Friday, October 2, 2020

North Carolina Phase 3

Mount Holly Farmers Market
Governor Cooper has moved North Carolina into Phase 3 of easing restrictions imposed due to COVID19. Beginning today at 5:00 p.m., we will remain in this phase until at least October 23rd. Essentially Phase 3 enables meeting spaces to host functions (subject to restrictions), large outdoor venues of 10,000 or more capacity to open at 3% capacity, bars can only open for outside beverage consumption at 30% capacity or 100 people (whichever is less), movie theaters may open at 30% capacity, and amusement parks may open at 30% capacity, but only for outdoor attractions. All other restrictions in Phase 2.5 remain in effect during this phase.

Today marks day 134 of Safer at Home and day 191 of overall restrictions. The number of cases continues to be grim. To date, North Carolina has had 215,000 cases and 3,625 deaths. In the United States there have been 7.35 million cases and 208,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 34.4 million cases and 1.03 million deaths. 

Today also marks the day that President Trump and his wife Melania announced that they have tested positive for the virus. It is an unfortunate turn of events, but perhaps just the thing that Americans need to hear to take a more proactive stance on keeping themselves and others safe from COVID. Too many people think this is either fake news or just a virus that is no worse than the flu. Apparently over a million deaths worldwide does not do the trick.