Wednesday, November 25, 2020


As we head towards the first of two major holidays in the United States, the Covid numbers continue to climb at an alarming rate. Today marks day 188 of Safer at Home and day 245 of overall restrictions. To date, North Carolina has had 347,000 cases and 5,174 deaths. In the United States there have been 12.8 million cases and 261,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 60.1 million cases and 1.42 million deaths.

While North Carolina Governor Cooper’s latest restrictions were not set to expire until December 4th, he issued a new Executive Order effective November 25th which tightens the mask requirement that has been in effect since July. The new order, which also extends Phase 3 capacity limits and safety requirements, runs through Friday, December 11th.

Previously you were required to wear a mask when it was not possible to keep six feet apart from other people. The new guidelines say masks should be worn at all times when indoors in public places, and whenever you are with someone who doesn’t live with you. Additionally, gyms are being asked to enforce mask wearing, even while patrons are exercising. Before, masks could be removed while doing “strenuous” exercise.

Will this be enough to slow the spread of the virus as college students return home and people gather for Thanksgiving? In this case, truly only time will tell. In the meantime, I will be rocking my fall mask.

fall mask


Friday, November 20, 2020

Covidities - or My Covid Activities

 As we move through our 8th month of restrictions due to Covid, I have looked for additional ways to fill my time. I have made many jars of jam, sewn more than my fair share of masks, baked new types of bread, worked on my photography, pickleball and kayaking skills, and hiked many mountains in the area. But last week I tried something totally new and out of my comfort zone - a watercolor class.

fall leaves
We have many talented people in our community, many of them artists. While I do feel that I have an artistic side, it comes out in my photography, writing and quilting. I have never been confident with drawing or painting, and so I hesitated to sign up for the beginner watercolor class offered by one of the art teachers here. But Jim really wanted to take it so I thought, what the heck, this might be something we could enjoy together.

Due to Covid, the class size is small and it was only Jim and me at our table in the meeting room. We were to bring a leaf to class for our first project. Thankfully, we only had to trace it on the paper instead of drawing it freehand. But first we learned about wet versus dry painting, and how to blend our paints to get the color we want. It was fun, and I didn't think my leaf turned out too bad!

leaf watercolor

Eager to try something else while the class was fresh in my mind, I looked for inspiration online. I found a beautiful tree that I decided to use as a starting point. This one I had to create on my own as I had nothing to trace, so that was more of a challenge for me. I made a couple of mistakes, and found our how unforgiving watercolor paints can be. But overall, I am very happy with the end result. A cousin said that she sees the world's family tree in the painting. As a genealogist, no comment could have pleased me more.

I also created a painter's mark for myself, which appears on the bottom corner of the tree painting, as I didn't really think the KW I used on my leaf looked very cool. I absolutely love what I came up with, and will use it on all my future works. We have three more classes (one per month) so I know I'll have at least three more paintings - ha!

watercolor tree

Monday, November 16, 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Phase 3 Extended - Again

highway signs remind travelers to be safe

Yesterday Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina will remain in Phase 3 for at least the next three weeks, but he tightened one thing. Going back to a restriction he imposed on May 22nd of this year, beginning this Friday there is a limit of 10 people for indoor social gatherings, while the limit of 50 people for outdoor get-togethers remains. Phase 2.5, effective September 4th, had allowed indoor gatherings of up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 50. It is no coincidence that this tightening of the numbers takes us through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. There are huge concerns that returning college students, people traveling for the holiday, and large gatherings of family and friends will cause an additional spike in Covid-19 cases.

The numbers continue to be grim, not only in the United States but around the world. Here is where things stand: Today marks day 174 of Safer at Home and day 231 of overall restrictions. To date, North Carolina has had 298,000 cases and 4,685 deaths. In the United States there have been 10.3 million cases and 240,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 51.6 million cases and 1.27 million deaths. A faint glimmer of hope exists as a couple of the drug companies have reported a 90% effective rate in the trials of their Covid vaccine that they are conducting. Much more data and analysis is required, but it is nice to hear something positive for a change.

Speaking of change, the Presidential elections were held on November 3rd. It appears that Joe Biden will become number 46, and for the first time ever, the United States will have a female Vice President in Kamala Harris. It is an exciting time in American politics, and I wish them well as they try to deal with the effects of the coronavirus, a slumping economy, and a country that is far from being united. For many reasons, 2021 cannot get here soon enough.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

PIckleball Round Robin

Back in July we formed the Pickleball Imagery Club (PIC) in our community. Officers were selected and I am currently the club president. As it turns out, so far Jim and I are the most experienced players in the community so people thought it made sense for us to start the club. We currently have 64 members, which is pretty good considering the community only has about 172 closed homes and not all of those are occupied full time yet. Not all of the members are active, like most clubs I suppose, but the ladies play every Tuesday night and Thursday morning. The guys tend to play Monday and Wednesday nights, and every Friday one of the guys puts together mixed social play.

Saturday we held our first Blind Draw Round Robin social mixer. Our neighborhood has two dedicated pickleball courts, and the two tennis courts are striped for pickleball as well. It is not fun to play on those courts however, as the net is too high and if someone misses the ball, you have to run a long way to retrieve it. For the round robin we taped two pickleball courts on each of the tennis courts, and set up portable pickleball nets. This gave us six legitimate pickleball courts, which was great as 32 members signed up for our event.

Everyone brought their own food, drinks, chairs, paddles and balls. We had hand sanitizer and wipes available for safety, and we encouraged social distancing. The event ran from 2-5, and folks stayed from beginning to end. Part of that was due to the picture perfect weather on Saturday, and part because people are just starved for something to do in light of COVID. But I think it was mostly related to the fact that everyone here is just so darn nice and fun to be around. Our committee had rounded up some great door prizes, which added to the enjoyment of the day. 

Overall, I'd say the event was a success. It WAS our first rodeo, so we had a couple glitches that we will figure out before we host another one. But overall, everyone said they had a great time and would love to do it again.

Pickleball Imagery Club round robin

Monday, November 2, 2020

A Hiking We Will Go

We spent some time recently hiking at a couple of state parks in North Carolina. Deciding that day trips are our coronacation get-aways, we look for areas that are about a two hour drive from our house. We were in search of fall colors, but as that is a very popular thing to do this time of year, we stayed away from the large, more popular parks. Our experience has been that hardly anyone on hiking trails wears a mask even when passing close to others. And we always visit during the week - I can only imagine how bad it would be on the weekends.

We came upon the first park just by happenstance as we passed a sign for it while getting a carryout meal to eat before the hike. Elk Knob State Park was not one we had heard of, much less visited. Located near Todd, NC, the 4,423-acre park features one of the highest peaks (5,520 feet) in North Carolina's High Country. We drove for miles on a back country road before reaching the entrance to the park. It was blessedly uncrowded, and we quickly ate lunch. We elected to do the Summit Trail, which was listed as 1.9 miles long and moderate to strenuous in intensity. Little did we know that the distance was one way, and mostly at a pretty good incline. The views from the top were very pretty, however, and going back downhill to the car was not bad.

Elk Knob State Park

A few days later we drove to Morrow Mountain State Park. This 5,702-acre park is in the Uwharrie Mountains near the town of Albemarle, NC. The peaks of the Uwharrie Mountains average less than 1,000 feet in elevation due to erosion. You can drive to a scenic overlook at the top, but there are also several different hiking trails in the park. At the park ranger's suggestion, we chose the 4.1 mile Fall Mountain Trail as it meandered along the river before heading uphill. There were very few people in this park, which was great.

Morrow Mountain State Park

With the pandemic, any type of meaningful vacation is off the table for the foreseeable future. I am thankful that we live in an area where we can at least do these little day trips to take our minds off of politics and the virus.